It’s essential to take care of your walls to keep your house in good condition. A good wall appearance can brighten up every room and add value to your home. Clean walls with no cracks or neglect signs also signal that a house receives good care. It’s imperative if you are getting ready to put your house on the market and have a home inspector coming to your place.
Why walls matter: your safety and your wallet
Wall maintenance might not sound like an important part of your to-do list. On the contrary, regular upkeep of your walls can have a substantial impact on your home’s perceived value and your family’s safety.
- Proper cleaning cuts down on dust and dirt and keeps your wall paint in good condition. This means you won’t have to repaint as often, saving you $950 or more for a professional.
- For bathrooms, humidity can exacerbate the impact of dirt and can introduce mold on (and in between) surfaces. Bathroom tile can be $1,500 or more.
- Mold remediation as a result of poor wall maintenance can cost $2,000 or more, depending on the size of your house.
- Clean, bright walls can increase your home’s value by $2,000 or more if you’re looking to sell. Wall treatments can further increase your home’s value by adding a sense of luxury.
- The presence of dust, dirt, and mold in your walls decreases air quality in your home. Poor air quality can trigger coughing, shortness of breath, and asthma attacks.
- Termites and carpenter ants can impact the structural safety of your home and cost thousands of dollars in damage to your home.
- Wall, foundation, and floor leaks can lead to water damage that can rot floors, walls and more.
How to determine the condition of your walls
The condition of your walls could have a significant impact on the value of your home. Although problems with your home’s walls might be immediately apparent, there are some things you can do to determine what’s going on with them.
Consider your house age
The condition of your walls is a good indicator of your house’s age. Walls in older homes can also show signs of foundation problems.
Load bearing, non-load bearing, or shear walls
Knowing what type of wall you are inspecting can be beneficial in your examination process. Certain types of walls have specific characteristics and can prompt the issues other types don’t have.
- Load bearing – If a wall has a beam, column, or another wall directly below or following its exact path, it’s a load-bearing wall. Load-bearing walls are usually more than 6 inches thick.
- Non-load bearing – Non-load bearing walls do not support any structural weight of a building. They do not support any other parts of the property’s structure besides its own. Non-bearing walls are also known as “curtain walls” and are used primarily as room dividers.
- Shear walls – The shear wall is part of a structure that helps resist lateral forces such as wind. Shear walls are often used in high-rise buildings subject to lateral wind and seismic forces. In reinforced concrete framed structures, the effects of wind increase in significance as the structure increases in height.
Signs of pest damage
When inspecting your walls, don’t forget to check if you have any uninvited guests. Termites and carpenter ants are the most common insects that could damage your walls. Walls are especially susceptible to termite damage because termites can get inside them from the ground and use a considerable amount of space available inside.
Although termites can stay hidden in the walls, you can still notice some signs of their presence. Here are some of the symptoms of termites:
- Pin holes on the drywall or wallpaper.
- Faint lines on drywall. When termites begin to move through the paperboard, they will typically leave behind a map of their tunnels which is visible from outside the wall.
- Peeling or bubbling paint
- Jammed doors or windows – if termites damage your home’s structure, your house could start moving in a way that might affect doors and windows.
Although finding out whether your home has termites can be challenging, you can conduct professional instructions to help determine their presence and mitigate the problem before it worsens.
Insulation is key
Your insulation has a significant impact on your home’s energy efficiency. Insulation helps to keep heat and air conditioning inside the house. A well-insulated place helps your HVAC system, as it will not have to work hard to keep the right temperature in your home.
Insulation on exterior walls creates a barrier between a living area and outdoor temperatures. Insulation on the interior walls is not always deemed as necessary but has certain benefits. For example, insulating interior walls can help reduce the amount of noise, provide fire protection and lower the chance of moisture problems like mold.
Check your walls for harmful materials
Checking your walls for harmful materials is extremely important. While it’s a good idea to hire a licensed inspector to do it, you can also do a basic inspection yourself to determine if the walls inside your home have any issues. Look for these types of harmful building materials:
- Asbestos in your insulation
- Chromated copper arsenic (CCA) in pressure treated wood
- Formaldehyde in pressed woods and adhesives
- Perfluorinated compounds, including PFOA in water and stick-resistant materials
- Phthalates in waterproofing
- Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in flame retardants
- Short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs) on metals
The most common problems with the walls are water damage and mold. You should contact a home inspector if you notice any discoloration or water damage. They can provide a more accurate estimate and possibly refer you to a qualified professional who can fix the problem.
Some home inspectors also offer mold remediation services, but you would need to pay extra for it, as it’s considered an additional service. A home inspector can also determine if asbestos is present, which could require significant remediation work.
Basic wall maintenance
Home maintenance is one of the most important tasks of a homeowner. To maintain the integrity of your home, you need to pay attention to the condition of all components, including walls. Regular upkeep of your home’s walls will keep them in good condition and also help prevent significant issues that could cost you thousands of dollars.
Look for signs of issues
When examining your walls, look for any imperfections. It’s the best free way to determine if a wall has issues is to do a quick check to see if you have any of the following signs:
- Cracks – cracks in the walls are relatively common in old and new homes and can be easily fixed by retaping the joints where dry panels meet. Sometimes, cracked walls could indicate a more significant problem – such as a shifting foundation.
- Watch out for jagged or diagonal cracks caused by moving or sinking the foundation. Cracks larger than one-quarter of an inch are a major red flag and call for a professional inspection.
- Holes – holes and cavities in the wall usually indicate the presence of termites. Walls are especially prone to termite damage for many reasons: they are accessible from the ground, and their surface area is considerable.
- Mold – Mold inside the walls is a common problem that can lead to the deterioration of insulation and drywall and create health hazards. When mold moves to the drywall paper, wallpaper, paint, or baseboards, it usually looks like clusters of small spots. Mold can be black, white, gray, or green.
- Streaks – streaks or stains on the walls, especially in the dark color, usually indicate some moisture or dampness inside the walls.
Easy tips for cleaning your walls
- Paint – It’s relatively easy to care for painted walls. All you need is a bucket of water, a suitable detergent, and a sponge. An old-school method also suggests adding two to three tablespoons of distilled white vinegar to a gallon of water for maximum results.
- Wood – For wooden walls, use a dusting cloth to remove dirt and lint, which can often accumulate on wooden services. You can also use an extendable duster to clean hard-to-reach areas.
- Tile – Tile walls are usually found in kitchens and bathrooms. Mix half a cup of dishwashing soap with one cup of hot white vinegar to clean the tiles. Apply the solution to the tile and scrub before rinsing and wiping it dry.
- Wallpaper – First, determine what wallpaper you have. Vinyl wallpaper is pretty easy to clean. If a coated fabric wallpaper is covered with acrylic or vinyl, it’s fairly easy to wash. Plain paper should not get wet and should be spot-cleaned.
Mix some water with soap or a cleaning agent to clean wallpaper, but ensure that the soap or detergent is colorless to avoid stains. Apply the mix gently to your wallpaper not to damage it.
- Chalkboard – a chalkboard is reasonably easy to clean, and you can do a regular dish soap. All you need to do is dip a cloth into the solution and wipe your board. Scrub the tough spots or streaks. Rinse the board with clean water a few times before air drying. Voila!
- Fabric – vacuum cleaning is the best way to clean walls with the material. You can suck out all the dust or use a broom to reach the far corners.
Six tips to keep your walls well-maintained
- Remove dirt and dust to keep your walls clean.
- Check for damages – this could be mold, termites, or unusually wide or diagonal cracks.
- Repaint old, shabby walls that could use a fresh coat of paint
- Check your walls for dampness – If you see crystalline or white puffy formations on the wall, or if the paint is popping off or peeling, your walls requires some attention. It can indicate leakages, so check your roof and ceiling before moving further.
- Pay close attention to what materials your walls are made of – this will help you maintain them correctly.
Upgrades that’ll make your walls look great
- Paint is the most practical choice, as it requires little maintenance and can be changed easily.
- Wallpaper – Wallpaper is one of the most common design choices among homeowners. It makes a homeroom cozier and is also easily replaceable.
- Tile – Installing wall tile is an excellent way to spruce up the look of your home. Tile is easy to maintain, durable and stylish. It’s available in various materials, patterns, shapes, and colors, which means it works great for any room.
- Shiplap – Shiplap is a type of inter-locking board, similar to tongue-and-groove but with a tighter fit. These wooden panels are easy to install and are a growing trend in interior design.
- Textiles – Adding textiles to your walls can give your place a more homely feel and add more design touches.
- Mirrors – mirrors are perfect additions for places like bathrooms and hallways, but they are also popular in bedrooms and living rooms.
- Wall art – if you want to add a touch of creativity to your walls, put some wall art around. It can give your home some personality and add some character.
- Accent wall – An accent wall is a wall that can have a different color, design, or material from the other walls around it. Accent walls can be used in any room.
- Shelves – shelf add a style to your living room and hold all your books and trinkets.
- Fabrics – macrame and tapestry can make your place look cozier and go with virtually all designs. Just use some fantasy to give your home a makeover.
- Greenery – adding some plants to your interior is a great way to make your place more lively.
While a home inspector can determine the condition of your walls and find the most significant issues, it’s essential to maintain your walls regularly. If you take good care of your walls, they are likely to stay in good condition, and you will also be able to catch any developing problems before they progress and cost you tens of thousands of dollars in repairs.