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    Cracks in your smooth plaster walls can be a homeowner's worst nightmare. But don't panic! While some cracks might be mere cosmetic concerns, others can signal a deeper issue. Walls will crack in every house at some point, no matter how old or new it is. In most cases, small cracks in plaster are normal and nothing to worry about.

    This blog post will shed light on how to identify the culprit behind those cracks and determine if a DIY fix is possible, or if it's time to call in a professional for a lasting solution. Our helpful guide will help you figure out when these cracks are a cause for concern.

    What Causes Plaster Cracks?

    Plaster walls, while beautiful and durable, are not immune to developing cracks over time. Natural settling, minor temperature fluctuations, and even everyday wear and tear can contribute to these imperfections. The key lies in understanding the severity of the crack and whether it's a superficial concern or a symptom of a deeper structural issue.

    While settling and environmental changes are common culprits for plaster cracks, there are a few other possibilities to consider. Houses on high-traffic roads can experience minor cracks due to vibrations from passing vehicles. Replacing old windows with uPVC double glazing, especially if the original timber frames lacked proper support (lintels), can sometimes lead to cracks around the window openings.

    The good news is that most plaster cracks are minor and can be addressed with a simple cosmetic fix called a "plaster skim" to restore a smooth finish. However, if the cracks are larger or accompanied by other issues, it's best to avoid caution and seek professional help.

    Don't be overly worried about every small crack. But, for larger cracks or situations outside these typical causes, consulting a professional is always recommended for a proper evaluation and potential repair solutions.

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    Different Types Of Cracks

    Size Matters

    The first step in assessing a plaster wall crack is to grab a ruler. Here's a general guideline to help you determine the appropriate course of action:

    • Hairline Cracks (less than 1/4 inch): These narrow fissures are often harmless cosmetic blemishes. You might consider a DIY approach using a patching compound specifically designed for plaster (consult a hardware store professional for recommendations). However, if you're uncomfortable tackling the repair yourself or the crack disrupts the visual flow of your space, seeking professional help is always a safe bet.
    • Moderate Cracks (1/4 inch to 1/2 inch): Cracks within this range warrant a closer look. While some settling cracks might fall into this category, it's best to err on the side of caution. Consult a professional for an evaluation. They can assess the cause of the crack and recommend the most suitable repair method, whether it's simple patching or a more complex solution.
    • Large Cracks (wider than 1/2 inch): Don't delay! Large cracks pose a significant concern and could indicate foundation problems or structural movement.  In such cases, calling a professional plasterer or structural engineer immediately is crucial.

    Crack Patterns 

    The size of the crack isn't the only factor to consider. The pattern the cracks form can also offer valuable clues about the underlying cause:

    • Vertical Cracks: These straight, vertical lines are typically the least worrisome. They often occur due to the natural settling of the house and can often be addressed through patching.
    • Horizontal Cracks:  Horizontal cracks, on the other hand, are a cause for concern. They can indicate foundation issues or problems with the structural integrity of the wall. A professional assessment is essential.
    • Stair-Step Cracks: Stair-step cracks, resembling jagged steps along the wall, are a red flag. These cracks signify significant structural movement and require immediate attention from a qualified professional.
    • Multiple Cracks: The presence of multiple cracks, especially when clustered in one area, suggests widespread damage. Don't hesitate to call a professional for a comprehensive evaluation.

    Movement Of Cracks 

    Cracks that remain static might not pose an immediate threat. However, if a crack widens over time, it indicates ongoing structural issues that demand professional intervention. Additionally, if doors or windows become misaligned or stuck due to crack movement, it's a clear sign of significant structural movement and necessitates immediate professional attention.

    Another crucial factor to consider is moisture. Water damage can exacerbate cracks and lead to mould growth. If you notice moisture around a crack, don't attempt a DIY repair. Call a professional to address both the crack and the moisture source to prevent further problems.

    When Do Cracks in Walls Become Serious?

    While hairline cracks are generally nothing to fret about, larger ones warrant closer inspection. Here's when a plaster crack might be a sign of a more serious issue:

    • Cracks exceeding 5 millimetres (roughly ¼ inch) deserve attention.
    • Diagonal cracks running across the wall are a cause for concern.
    • Jagged cracks that seem to zigzag along the wall require professional evaluation.
    • Cracks appearing around door and window frames can indicate underlying problems.
    • Any crack allowing light to pass through shouldn't be ignored.

    If you notice any of these characteristics in your plaster cracks, don't hesitate to seek professional advice. With a qualified professional's help, you can address the issue before it leads to permanent damage.

    Benefits of Hiring a Professional

    While some hairline cracks might seem like a DIY project, there are numerous advantages to hiring a qualified professional for plaster wall crack repair:

    Expert Diagnosis

    A professional plasterer can identify the root cause of the crack, whether it's foundation issues, moisture problems, or simple settling. This ensures the repair addresses the underlying cause, preventing future cracks from appearing.

    Flawless Finish

    Professionals possess the expertise and experience to utilise proper crack repair techniques, ensuring a long-lasting and virtually invisible repair. They can also ensure the repaired area blends seamlessly with the surrounding plaster, preserving the aesthetics of your wall.

    High-Quality Materials

    Professionals use top-of-the-line materials specifically designed for plaster repair. These materials offer superior strength, flexibility, and durability, ensuring the repair withstands the test of time.

    Peace of Mind

    Perhaps the most significant benefit of hiring a professional is the peace of mind it brings. Knowing that your home's structural integrity is secure and the cracks are repaired according to industry standards allows you to relax and enjoy your space.

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    Finding the Right Fit: Tips for Hiring a Qualified Professional

    Now that you understand the importance of seeking professional help for certain plaster wall cracks, here are some valuable pointers to assist you in finding the right contractor for the job:

    • Harness the Power of Recommendations:  Seek recommendations from friends, family, and neighbours who have recently had plaster wall repairs done. Satisfied customers are your best source of reliable information.
    • Embrace the Power of the Web: Online review platforms can be a goldmine of information. Research local plasterers and structural engineers, reading customer reviews to gauge their experience, professionalism, and quality of work.
    • Don't Settle for the First Quote:  Get quotes from multiple qualified professionals. This allows you to compare pricing structures and services offered, ensuring you find a contractor who aligns with your budget and needs.
    • Verify Credentials and Ensure Security:  Always verify a professional's licensing and insurance before signing any contracts. This protects you in case of unforeseen circumstances during the repair process.

    Conclusion

    Promptly addressing plaster wall cracks is crucial for maintaining the structural integrity and aesthetic beauty of your home. By understanding the types of cracks and the situations that necessitate professional intervention, you can make informed decisions about your repair approach. Remember, early detection is key! Addressing smaller cracks before they become major problems can save you time, money, and stress in the long run.

    Don't let cracks take control of your peace of mind. If you're facing a plaster wall crack concern, take the first step towards a lasting solution. Here at Plastering National, we offer a free consultation with our team of experienced plaster repair professionals. We'll assess your crack, identify the cause, and recommend the most suitable repair solution for your specific needs. Contact us today for a free consultation, and let us help you restore your walls to their pristine glory!

    Content Summary:

    • Cracks in plaster walls can be a concern, but don't panic! Small cracks are usually normal.
    • This guide helps you identify the culprit behind cracks and determine if a DIY fix is possible.
    • Plaster walls develop cracks due to settling, temperature changes, or wear and tear.
    • Traffic vibrations or replacing windows without proper support can also cause cracks.
    • Most minor cracks can be fixed with a simple "plaster skim" for a smooth finish.
    • Consult a professional for larger cracks or if the cause seems unusual.
    • The size, pattern, and movement of cracks can reveal the underlying issue.
    • Hairline cracks (less than ¼ inch) are usually harmless and can be DIY repaired.
    • Moderate cracks (¼ inch to ½ inch) warrant professional evaluation.
    • Large cracks (wider than ½ inch) require immediate professional attention.
    • Vertical cracks are common due to settling and can often be patched.
    • Horizontal cracks suggest foundation issues and need a professional assessment.
    • Stair-step cracks signify significant structural movement and require immediate professional help.
    • Multiple cracks in one area indicate widespread damage and need professional evaluation.
    • Cracks that widen over time or cause doors/windows to misalign require professional attention.
    • Moisture around cracks necessitates a professional to address both the crack and the moisture source.
    • Larger cracks exceeding 5 millimetres, diagonal cracks, or jagged cracks warrant professional attention.
    • Cracks around door/window frames or those letting light through require professional help.
    • Hiring a professional offers expert diagnosis, flawless finish, high-quality materials, and peace of mind.
    • Professionals can identify the root cause of the crack to prevent future ones.
    • They use proper techniques for a long-lasting and invisible repair.
    • Professionals use high-quality materials for superior strength, flexibility, and durability.
    • Hiring a professional ensures your home's structural integrity and brings peace of mind.
    • Seek recommendations from friends, family, and neighbours for qualified professionals.
    • Online review platforms can be a goldmine of information about local professionals.
    • Get quotes from multiple qualified professionals to compare pricing and services.
    • Always verify a professional's licensing and insurance before signing any contracts.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    No, not all cracks are a cause for concern. Hairline cracks (less than ¼ inch) are quite common and often result from natural settling or minor temperature fluctuations. However, larger cracks, cracks with specific patterns (diagonal, stair-step), or cracks that show signs of movement require professional evaluation.

     

    For small hairline cracks, a DIY approach might be possible using a patching compound specifically designed for plaster. However, for larger cracks, cracks with unusual patterns, or if you're uncomfortable with DIY repairs, it's always best to consult a professional for a proper assessment and lasting repair solution.

     

    Hiring a professional plasterer offers several advantages. They can diagnose the root cause of the crack to prevent future occurrences. They use proper techniques and high-quality materials for long-lasting and virtually invisible repair. Additionally, professionals provide peace of mind, knowing your home's structural integrity is secure.

     

    Seek recommendations from friends, family, or neighbours who have recently had similar repairs done. Online review platforms can also be helpful in researching local plasterers and structural engineers, allowing you to compare their experience, professionalism, and customer reviews. Always get quotes from multiple qualified professionals and verify their licensing and insurance before signing any contracts.

     

    Traffic vibrations from busy roads or replacing old windows without proper support (lintels) can also contribute to plaster wall cracks. Additionally, moisture damage around cracks can exacerbate them and lead to mould growth. If you notice moisture around a crack, don't attempt a DIY repair – call a professional to address both the crack and the moisture source.

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