DIY Tips & Advice

DIY Tip: Filling ceiling cracks

Ceilings are flat. Stick anything onto the surface and it shows. They are so difficult to get and keep flat that builders rarely bother anymore - why do you think Artex was invented?!

Trouble is, in period houses Artex looks awful. Often people resort to covering ceilings with lining paper. This doesn't always look great either. And, if you've only got cracks and no dropped or sagging sections, isn't entirely necessary. Nor is pulling down the whole ceiling and putting a new one up or even skimming the whole thing, as long as we're just talking about a few expansion / settlement cracks on a largely level and sound surface.

Here's how to fill those ceiling cracks permanently.

Use a flexible decorator's caulk or gap filler. It must be the type that is workable with water and a finger or brush and described as "permanently flexible". Don't use filler for sanding; it's only going to sit on the surface, look like the Himalayas and crack under the same forces as caused the original damage.

Start by brushing the crack with a clean paintbrush to get all the loose stuff out.

Then brush some undiluted PVA right into it. This will create a sound surface for the gap / decorator's filler to adhere to.

Next squirt a thick bead of decorator's or gap filler right into the crack, over filling it slightly. Work quickly and accurately so that the filler is still workable without water.

Now take a scrapper or putty blade and run it along your bead, forcing it into the crack and flatting it out.

Finally get a stiff paintbrush and some water and brush away the filler at the sides of the crack. Try not to get water into the crack itself.

If it's a deep crack you may need to repeat this final stage several times.