For ceiling cracks, do you like tape, or mesh, and why? Also what compound are you using?

Fixing Ceiling Cracks:
-The cracks are from settling and were only a hairline crack and there is no movement. I chipped out a small groove and put screws on both sides just as a precaution and to allow more mud to stick in the crack.

I typically use tape or mesh tape, and then use an Easy Sand light type setting compound mixed from powder (20, 45, or 90) for the 1st coat to help bond well to the existing sheetrock/plaster, or a pre-mixed all-purpose style compound since they have lots of adhesive in them. I'll normally finish off with a pre-mixed bucket for last coat.

What's your preference, Tape or Mesh for these shallow jobs? Which compound are you using, light joint setting powder, or a pre-mixed pail?

  • 1
    I'd challenge your assertion. Most such cracks are from seasonal movement, not initial settling. You haven't said how old your home is or where the cracks exist. Details matter with answers.
    – isherwood
    Sep 7, 2022 at 18:21
  • FYI, mesh is tape. You're asking about paper vs fiberglass.
    – isherwood
    Sep 7, 2022 at 18:21
  • 1
    This question falls fairly squarely in the "what's your favorite?" category. Many products will do the job. You've basically posted an opinion poll. See diy.stackexchange.com/help/dont-ask.
    – isherwood
    Sep 7, 2022 at 18:23
  • @isherwood It is settling from age, the home is over 50 years old. Most homes I've seen have far worse settling, this was as small as a hair but I want it gone as we are fixing everything else. Good point, most talk about it as tape or mesh, but I do hear paper and mesh a lot, so getting technical you are spot on. Mesh Tape vs Paper Tape. In regards to opinion poll, partially agreed, people are strong in their convictions on using certain things for parts of the job so I was looking for what the industry may agree on, but possibly that doesn't exist and is just a preference thing.
    – RocketManZ
    Sep 7, 2022 at 19:00
  • Where are these cracks? Straight along panel joins, inside corner, or random "squiglies" or... ? What's preventing you from applying setting compound in the groove without any tape?
    – P2000
    Sep 7, 2022 at 19:05

1 Answer 1


It is plaster board with plaster rough coat and finish coat laid on top from the 1940's-1950's. The cracks were strategic, assuming along a joint or settling point in the house.

Under these conditions, mesh won't do much, paper might help, but building it up like that with tape won't necessarily prevent a hair crack in the weaker finishing layer overtop the tape. Paper tape is great on moving joints, and mesh is great for holding setting compound in place over larger gaps.

If this is a pesky re-occurring problem I'm afraid the proper solution is to review and stiffen the framing behind it.

The reason why mesh sometimes does help here is because it forces you to apply a thicker layer of compound. This buys you time.

For your scenario I would cut a shallow groove (a V or U groove) along the length of the crack, fill it with setting compound (best if it can bond to the plaster board, but do not cut through full depth), and cover it with premix topping compound for a feathered smooth finish. No tape.

  • Great feedback and guidance, thanks for all of that info. I ended up screwing the crack on both sides for the random chance it continues to settle, but I'm now realizing maybe I shouldn't have bothered. Now that I have screws outside of the crack, do you recommend I use a tape over the crack and screws to minimize the chance of those new screws popping and showing later?
    – RocketManZ
    Sep 8, 2022 at 13:38
  • @RocketManZ just mud over the screws, that's how it's done with the usual paneling screws. No tape. Make sure they are sunk a tiny bit. Drywall screws for paneling have a special flute shaped head which is sunk without tearing the outer paper layer. If your boards have no paper, just sink the screw a tiny bit.
    – P2000
    Sep 8, 2022 at 14:09

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