Commercial Construction: How to Prevent Drywall From Cracking

It’s not uncommon for drywall to crack either during or after installation. While small hairline cracks are usually harmless, larger cracks can create weakness points within the walls and expose framing studs to moisture. However, there are steps that commercial construction companies and contractors can take to protect drywall from phenomenon.

Choose the Right Type

First, choose the right type of drywall for the job. Although most drywall is made of calcium sulfate dihydrate (gypsum), there are variations, each of which has its own unique characteristics. Mold-resistant drywall, for instance, features a paperless backing and chemically treated surface to discourage the growth of mold. Fire-resistant drywall, on the other hand, is designer with thick fire-resistant materials. Choosing the right type of drywall will minimize stress and reduce the risk of cracking.

Use the Right Compound

It’s also important to use the right compound when installing drywall. Also known as joint compound, this product is used to seal joints between drywall sheets. Skip the lightweight compound and, instead, choose a general-purpose compound for stronger adhesion and longevity.

Avoid Overcutting

Use caution when cutting your drywall to ensure that you don’t accidentally cut too much. Overcutting, even if it’s only by a few inches, will affect the way in which the drywall fits. The presence of large gaps and openings may stress the drywall to the point where it develop cracks. You can prevent this from happening by cutting your drywall to the correct size. And remember, you can always cut away additional drywall material, but you can’t add it back.

Don’t Break Paper With Fasteners

When securing drywall to the framing studs, try to avoid penetrating the outer paper layer with the screw or fastener head. Some contractors believe that driving fasteners deeper into drywall creates a stronger hold. However, it actually weakens the drywall by making it susceptible to cracking and other forms of damage. Drive fasteners just deep enough to secure the drywall to the framing studs, without penetrating the outer paper layer.

Sand Gently

After securing drywall to the framing studs, you may want to sand it down to create a smooth surface. To protect against cracking, however, you should sand gently while applying only minor force. Start with 12-grit sandpaper and gradually work your way up to larger grit paper.

Dealing With Cracks

You don’t have to replace a sheet of drywall just because it’s cracked. You can often fill small holes and cracks with joint compound. If it’s a large hole or crack, adding fiberglass mesh tape to the area before applying the compound can help hold it together.

As a commercial installer, UBS is a leader in metal stud framing. Contact us for a quote on your next office building, high rise or apartment complex. 303.466.7200.