Stucco Maintenance Ensures Longevity
Stucco is used for facing in a wide variety of commercial and residential structures. It may be applied directly to a solid base such as masonry or concrete walls, or it can be applied to a metal lath attached to frame construction, solid masonry, or concrete construction.
All types of cladding need a certain level of maintenance to ensure the longevity of the structure. Preservation of a structure’s cladding, which begins with the installation of proper moisture management solutions, can be accomplished with a few simple steps. Minimal care can keep stucco attractive for many decades. In addition to the proper specification of wall protection solutions, two of the most important things you can do are cleaning and general application observations.
CLEANING – When cleaning stucco applications, the walls should be wet from the bottom up. This method of treatment prevents “dirty” water from being absorbed into the wall below. A constricted garden hose nozzle, like those available at most hardware stores, provides more than enough ammo to do the job. It is important to not stream high-pressure water close to the roof or wall, because this can cause the stucco to crumble or become compromised. Once the structure has been rinsed, remove any excess dirt or stains with a stiff nylon brush. A mixture of hot water and dish detergent teamed with a little bit of effort should remove most problem areas. Make sure to avoid excess scrubbing as this can loosen and damage the cladding. After ridding the stucco from all dirt and debris, use the garden hose to thoroughly rinse away all residual soapy water.
OBSERVATION – The cleaning process is a perfect opportunity to examine the stucco for any problem areas or signs of deterioration. Visual inspections should be done every three to five years. During these observations, review the condition of trim accessories, joints and cornerbeads. Crucial issues like visible cracks, mildew and stains should be addressed as soon as possible to ensure the life of the stucco. Staining at areas below a window and below a roof-to-wall intersection are signs of improper flashing and installation and need to be addressed immediately as well. Finally, make sure the weep screeds are open at bottom of the wall in order to allow trapped moisture to escape, and that the landscaping/mulch is not in contact with bottom of stucco.
Stucco remains a durable cladding choice that offers the look of other options at a fraction of the cost. Take the time to keep it looking good by sticking to a regular maintenance schedule.
Durability and breathability are the major sustainability benefits of cement stucco. Stucco is a water-shedding, hard, impact-resistant, fire-resistant, and color-retentive, exterior finish material. Because plaster is breathable, or able to transmit moisture vapor, water that gets behind it does not become trapped. This means stucco is resistant to rot and fungus, helping to protect indoor air quality. Stucco has proved to be a durable wall cover in all climates, whether wet, dry, hot, or cold.
The final appearance of the finish coat can be varied by changing the size and shape of the aggregate, using colored cement, adding pigments, changing the consistency of the finish mix, or changing the method or equipment used for plastering. By using integral color, the need to paint is eliminated.
Texture. Texture is achieved by selecting aggregate size, controlling finish mix consistency, and using special treatment techniques during and after application of the finish coat plaster. Texture gives substance and character to the plaster surface. It can be used to provide highlights, depth, continuity, segmentation, and even achieve the look of a completely different construction material such as wood timbers, brick, or stone masonry construction. A sample panel should be requested prior to construction to confirm the suitability of a desired color and texture.