How to Repair Drywall Tape That Is Separating from Your Walls

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Drywall tape separating from ceiling

Peeling drywall tape may cause tiny vertical or horizontal gaps in your wall to open up, exposing unsightly cracks and allowing moisture to enter where it shouldn’t. Fortunately, repairing peeling drywall tape is just little more complex than normal patching. If the rip is modest, strengthen the tape below by patching over it before the peel becomes too severe. Scrape a part of tape out and replace it with a fresh piece of mesh tape before mending larger or more obvious peeling.

1. Repairing Minor Peels

1. Wipe down the wall with a clean towel. Apply a clean, dry cloth to the part of peeling tape that you’re going to fix. Rub softly to remove the majority of the dust or dirt that is covering the area you are going to clean. Allow any drywall or paint chips to fall to the floor.

  • If you have a little peel that isn’t exposing a lot of drywall, this approach is preferable. This patch will not stay forever, but it will prevent minor problems from worsening. If a length of tape longer than 1 foot (0.30 m) is falling off, consider replacing it totally.
  • If you’re concerned about making a mess on your floor, place a drop cloth under the patched area.

2. Using a putty knife, apply fast-setting joint compound to a mud pan. Standard setting compound may be used if desired, however fast-setting joint compound will prevent moisture from being trapped in the walls. Scrape some putty from the container with your putty knife. Insert your putty knife into the mud pan and glide your loaded blade over the mud pan’s sharp inside edge to retain the compound within.

  • To fill a hole in drywall, you may use any kind of spackling paste, although fast-setting joint compound will be stronger and cure faster.
  • Standard setting compound must be combined with water to form a thick paste.
  • If your peeling tape hole is less than 1 foot (0.30 m) long, you won’t need more than 1 scoop of joint compound.

3. Spread the joint compound over the peel and flatten it. Scoop some joint compound from the pan using the blade of your putty knife. Place the blade at the top or bottom of the wall gap. Keep your index finger on the blade and drag your putty knife at a 45-degree angle over the hole. Firmly yet lightly press to leave joint compound behind. Continue applying compound until the hole is completely filled and the compound is largely flat.

  • Cover the hole 4–5 inches (10–13 cm) in both directions of the rip to prevent the tape from peeling in the future.
  • Scrape a region 2-3 times to apply more pressure and drive the compound all the way into the gap.

4. Allow the fast-setting joint compound to dry for at least 12 hours. On the package of your fast-setting dry compound, the waiting period may range from 30 minutes to 6 hours. To be on the safe side, let the compound at least 12 hours to dry fully. When your compound is completely gray in color, it is dry, and it is completely dry when you touch it.

  • Run your hand over the joint compound after 12 hours. If it’s chalky and dry, you’re OK to go.
  • The larger the hole in your wall, the longer you will have to wait. Twelve hours should be plenty of time to dry up the fast-setting compound.

5. Sand the mended surface using 120-grit sandpaper. To remove layers of joint compound, use sandpaper or a sanding sponge. Scrape in the same direction you applied the joint compound with back-and-forth strokes. Remove any bigger bits of compound that are sticking out and stop when the mended area is flush with the wall.

  • By running your palm over the joint compound, you can see whether it is flush with the wall. If you feel lumps or grooves in the patched wall when you run your fingers over it, you haven’t finished sanding.
  • It does not have to be flawless. It should be OK if it’s flat enough for you and the peeling tape is entirely covered.

6. Using a brush or roller, paint the mended area. After sanding, wipe the mended area with a clean cloth before repainting it. Fill a paint tray with a paint that matches the color of your walls, then use a brush or roller to paint the patched area. If the paint seems uneven or to be the incorrect hue, try repainting the whole wall for a more consistent appearance.

  • Depending on the paint, the size of the patch, and the kind of joint compound, you may need to prepare the wall beforehand to prevent the compound from showing through.

Keep an eye out for bubbles that appear after you’ve finished painting. If the paint begins to bubble, it implies that the joint compound was not completely dry when you painted over it. If this occurs, use a scraper to remove the wet compound after the paint has dried and restart the job. Allow another 48-72 hours before repairing the drywall again.

2. Replacing Entire Tape Strips

1. Dig beneath the drywall covering the tape with a scraper or putty knife. With your dominant hand, push a scraper or putty knife on the wall. With your index finger, press the blade into the wall. Push the blade against the wall at a 45-degree angle, perpendicular to the crack, many times. Stop after you’ve removed any hanging drywall or paint and you can see the tape below.

  • Drywall or dried paint may come loose from the wall. Don’t be concerned if it seems like you’re creating a shambles. Before you can replace it, you must first remove all of the damaged surface.
  • If you’re concerned about getting drywall dust all over your floor, lay down a drop cloth.

2. With your putty knife, pry one edge of the tape out and pull it out. Once you’ve exposed a length of tape, pry beneath it with a putty knife. Dig your fingers beneath the tape and pull it out in both directions. Once it reaches a place in the paint where it is securely set, it will rip on its own. If the tape breaks when prying it up, just pull it out in both directions until it rips on its own.

  • Only the length that is weak enough to be taken out on its own has to be re-taped.
  • This might range from 2–3 inches (5.1–7.6 cm) to 5–6 feet (1.5–1.8 m). The length of tape you need to replace is totally influenced on how fragile the tape is in the peeling area. It might be the full length of the tape or a short part where an air bubble became stuck.

3. With 150-grit sandpaper, sand the removed area. Remove the tape and scrape away the extra drywall and paint using 150-grit sandpaper or a sanding sponge. Sand back and forth until you’ve completely covered the area where the paint was. To obtain both sides of the space between the drywall and the paint, sand on the outer borders where you still have your original paint.

  • You’re going to repaint anyhow, so don’t be too stingy with the sanding.
  • Avoid grinding the drywall paper at all costs. Where the tape was, there should be a coating of joint compound on top, but if you see a layer of paper beneath, you’ve gone too far.

4. To clear the dust, vacuum the length of the sanded wall. Get a vacuum with a hose attachment and turn it on full power. To eliminate the dust that has accumulated on your walls, run the hose along the length of the wall that you sanded. This will protect it from becoming entangled in your new tape.

  • If your vacuum does not reach the sanded area, just wipe it down with a dry towel to remove the dust.

5. Replace the removed tape with a piece of mesh tape. Remove a length of mesh drywall tape that is the same size as the piece you removed. Put one end at a time and draw it out towards the other. Smooth the tape down with your hand or the edge of your putty knife as you apply it.

  • It’s acceptable if 1–2 inches (2.5–5.1 cm) of tape overlaps. However, try not to trim it too short.
  • If you need to re-tape a corner, you may use the pre-folded paper tape. This sort of paper is intended for use in corners only.

6. Using your putty knife, fill a mud pan with joint compound. Using a putty knife, scoop out the putty compound and place it in the mud pan. Scrape the putty into the pan using the mud pan’s sharp edge and the flat blade of the putty knife.

  • It’s more convenient to buy pre-mixed joint compound, but you may acquire the cheaper joint compound and mix it with water yourself if you prefer.
  • The quantity of joint compound required is determined by the size of the sanded-down wall section. In average, 1 square foot (0.093 m2) of wall requires.05 pounds (23 g) of joint compound.

7. Scrape the joint compound over the mesh tape in the direction of the tape. Scoop up some joint compound using the tip of your putty knife. Holding the blade at a 45-degree angle, rub the tip of the putty knife over a portion of the tape. Rub the joint compound into the affected region, then scrape it out with the empty putty knife. Rep for any spot that is lacking paint or has been sanded down.

  • You don’t want massive globs of joint compound stuck to your wall. The compound should be virtually flat with the wall, but thick enough to cover the tape noticeably.
  • If you leave clumps of joint compound, you’ll have to sand it down to bring it flat with the wall.
  • If you’re working in a corner, start where the walls meet at a 90-degree angle and scrape away from the junction to apply the compound. Repeat in both ways.

8. Allow your joint compound to dry for at least 36 hours. Joint compound may take a long time to dry, and if you don’t let it to air out, your wall will begin to bubble. Inspect the compound after at least 36 hours to check whether it is a light gray. If certain portions are darker than others, it hasn’t completely dried. If it’s gray, softly run your hand over the area where you applied the chemical. It’s entirely dried if the wall is firm and chalky.

  • Turn on the fan if there is one in the room. The compound does not need to be ventilated to dry, although it will dry more fully if there is some air movement in the room.

9. To smooth the surface, sand the area where you put the joint compound. Sand the surface with 100-150 grit sandpaper or a sanding block. Scrape in the direction of the tape with hard back-and-forth strokes to remove any joint compound that isn’t flush with your wall. Continue sanding until the unrepaired wall and the joint compound are flush.

  • It might be difficult to determine when you’ve finished sanding. In general, you’re good if you’ve sanded every piece at least once and the wall seems smooth enough to you.
  • If any large pieces of joint compound come off, you must re-patch them using the same procedure. However, let at least 72 hours for the second coat to dry.

10. Paint over the joint compounded-over region. After smoothing down the whole region, apply paint to the patched area using a brush or roller. If you simply want to paint that tiny piece, you may use the same color as the rest of your wall, or you can repaint the whole wall to give it a new appearance.

  • If your walls are quite old and haven’t been painted in a long time, you’ll need to repaint the whole wall if you want the paint job to be consistent.

Tip: Depending on the kind of joint compound, the size of the patch, and the type of paint used, you may need to prepare the wall beforehand to prevent the joint compound from showing through. If you’re using flat paint, a larger patch, or slow-drying joint compound, prime the area you’ve repaired first.