Step one: If this job got subbed out to you and you have done guesstimate site unseen. When you get there contact person who hired you and let them know if there will be a price increase based on what you see. (They may have to okay the price w/who hired them.)
Step two: Push up on the ceiling (as someone just pushed down on it) to see if the screws pop. If they do pop, this is not necessarily a bad thing, because now you can see where the ceiling joists are. Put new screws in about 1 inch away from any pops.
Step three: ‘V’ out joints so they will accept mud. Also cut out anything soft aka: loose paper, mud… Anything that ain’t solid. We want to start with a solid foundation.
Step 3 1/2: Check to make sure crack/damaged area is level. If not sink in a few more screws to suck that ceiling up.
Step four: prefil
Step five: Depending (maybe on the length of the crack) use tape. Most of the time I don’t use tape as it will hump the joint/crack and a lot of times is simply not necessary. Although if the crack comes back you may get a call back.
Step six: Apply mud.
Step seven: Cover all walls. Hopefully by now you have rosin or plastic the floor.
Step eight: Mix texture, strain & spray.
Note: If screws don’t pop, you may want to use stud-finder to locate studs. This beats having to further damage the ceiling, as you will probably have to hack into it w/drywall hammer to find them.
Note #2: Depending on the amount of damage, part of the ceiling may have to be cut out and replaced. A lot of times this is simply just not necessary.
Step nine: Clean up, get out of there and mail out your invoice.
Step ten: GET PAID!