A friend of mine has a single-fronted, semi-detached, Victorian-era period home (c1900), in the inner northern suburbs of Melbourne.
Due to a number of factors (reactive soil in the area, large trees on neighbouring properties etc...) there are cracks through several of the internal walls (and external walls too), up to 1cm wide in some areas.
A recent Archicentre building inspection has noted these cracks to be quite significant, but common amongst properties in the area and of this age. Essentially, the house is not expected to fall down, but fixing the cracks permanently is very unlikely. Restumping, underpinning etc...may still not prevent further cracking.
My friend has done some basic things like removing a large tree in the rear yard close to the rear and side wall, and improving subfloor ventilation, as simple ways of helping to reduce the problem of cracking. They are considering a new damp-proof course, but this appears quite expensive, and as it is an investment property, she is not keen to do this at present.
The property is rented out at present.
The question here is -
What can be done to cover up the cracks, cosmetically?
ie, given that permanently fixing the cracks is unlikely, what can be done to improve the cosmetic appearance of the walls?
1. The simplest thing, I presume, is filling the cracks with plaster and repainting...but with a change in climate and further movement, they will obviously just re-open.
2. Another option, using a fibreglass or paper plaster tape to cover the cracks, then repainting. I am not sure how lasting this method would be? Will it last longer?
3. Another option, using plywood or pine-panelling as the internal wall cladding, would these materials be less likely to crack?
I am looking for the simplest and most lasting solution to this problem of cracks. Mainly a superficial, cosmetic solution, so that when my friends property is re-valued by the bank, or is for sale, or open for new tenants, it looks good on the outside...
Any thoughts or ideas would be much appreciated...