Plaster is one of the most common materials used in construction across Australia given it is relatively inexpensive, simple to work with and easy to repair. However given our climate, especially in extremely dry or humid conditions, plaster can quickly show signs of general wear and tear or damage.
By knowing what types of problems can occur and how to rectify them, you can resolve them before they become bigger and more expensive issues.
One of the main problems with plasterboard is cracking which can be caused by a variety of reasons including building movement, different soil types and moisture damage.
Cracks can be repaired if only minor however for larger or more heavily damaged areas it is usually easier and provides a better finish if you replace the affected area.
There are several common plaster issues:
Hairline cracks - these are small cracks that can run vertical, horizontal, or diagonal. They are normally the most minor and unless they are growing only need attention for aesthetic reasons.
Settlement cracks - especially common in new or renovated homes and are a result of soil or foundations settling. These cracks can be recognised by a groups of cracks converging in one direction and should be monitored. If they continue to grow or more cracks appear, you should get an expert to investigate.
Delaminating cracks - a sign of plaster pulling away from the wall or ceiling stud behind it. These cracks tend to run parallel to your studs on both ceilings and walls, and there is the possibility of the plasterboard coming away which presents a risk. These need repairing or replacing as soon as possible.
Discolored plaster - can be the sign of water damage. Stains will start to show soon after a leak begins. The amount of repairs or the need for replacements will depend on the level of damage however, you need to find the leak and fix it to eliminate ongoing problems.
Bubbling/bulging plaster - if water damage or moisture becomes severe then the plaster can begin to bubble or bulge. This can occur without any visible water stains. Like delaminating cracks, these issues require urgent attention by a professional.
Prevention is key for any home maintenance. Depending on your level of skill small jobs may be fine to attack DIY but for larger, more complex jobs you should seek professional advice.