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Drywall and Cracking at Expansion Joints

Drywall Expansion Joint
Drywall, which is made from pressed gypsum particles, is smooth and provides a professional wall surface, but it can’t withstand pressure from foundation settling or structural shifting. Expansion joints, also called control joints, are installed in predetermined areas when constructing long wall expanses or building on soil known for its instability. Expansion joints serve as the weakest points in the wall, and their purpose is to relieve pressure on drywall that otherwise would result in cracks.

Drywall expansion joints are plastic or vinyl strips that feature a V or U shape down the center of the strip. When installed in a wall, the V or U shape expands slightly, allowing the wall to shift imperceptibly without cracking the drywall. Expansion joints are visible and are not covered by drywall joint compound.

The longer a wall or the larger a ceiling, the more it requires the installation of drywall expansion joints to reduce cracking. The joints are not common in standard residential construction unless the soil is known to move. In commercial construction, however, expansion joints are common, and architects and engineers use them to control cracking during future movement of a building.

Drywall expansion joints fit in the seam between two drywall panels. The joints are made in different sizes, and a contractor must leave a gap between the drywall panels when he attaches them to the framing beneath. Depending on the anticipated movement, an expansion joint may require a gap of 1/4 inch up to 1 inch. The expansion joint features fins on each side that attach to the adjacent drywall panels with drywall nails or spray adhesive. After the joints are in place, the contractor applies joint compound only over the fins, not over the joint.

Made of vinyl or other flexible materials, an expansion joint will expand and contract, but it should not crack unless it was taped over during installation. You may brush paint over expansion joints to minimize their appearance in a wall, but do not fill them with joint compound as you would other drywall seams.


  1. Flexo Tech Product is the leading manufacturers and suppliers of expansion belows and expansion joints in bangalore, India. expansion joints manufacturers

  2. Thanks to post about expansion joints. I follow about to know on expansion joints so I read on datonginc always. Your post is helping me to know more.

  3. Expansion joints are used in constructions to cater for shifting nature of weather. Heat can cause certain parts of constructions to expand and reduce, but the joint themselves enable them to do so without damage to the overall structure of a construction to be compromised. I hope this can be helped too. Thanks!

  4. Yes! Expansion joints allow for the wall in which they are placed to move without restraint, and they control where the movement manifests, avoiding random cracking in finished walls.

  5. Hi,
    Expansion Bellows should be used with lots care, it is really very important.

    We are leading manufacturers of Expansion Bellows, Solenoid Valve, Centrifugal Pumps, Syntho Glass.

  6. One of the best manufacturer of expansion joints in the Philippines that I know is GCK International Inc. which delivers the best and the highest quality.

  7. I wasn't aware that longer walls and ceilings need drywall expansion joints to reduce cracking. There is a crack that is forming along one of the walls in my house. I'm beginning to wonder if the problem might be related to this.

  8. I have a home that I am interested in purchasing and there are 4 expansion joints in only one room of the home, the dining room. In this dining room, there are two of the 4 joints installed above the new french doors installed. The other 2 are on the walls on either side of the french door wall. Would the reasoning for the joints be because of the french doors installed? I have never seen these in the 16 years in the business so at a loss. It appears to be due to movement and need to know if I should be concerned.

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