Stucco Tips and Answers to FAQ

Q. Can stucco be painted?

The short answer: Don’t!  But if someone has already committed this sin, go ahead and add more. There are paints designed for stucco, but each paint layer negatively affects the exterior’s breathability (or “perm rating”). The less an exterior system breathes, the longer it takes for moisture to leave the wall cavity, creating a potential environment for mold. Stucco doesn’t bond to paint, so eventually you’ll have to sandblast it off your house. It’s a noisy, messy process that won’t make you popular with your neighbors. The best solution? Re-stucco by applying a thin layer of colored cement with a new texture.

Q. What should I do about the cracks in my stucco?

Nothing, in most cases. Small, hairline cracks are normal and generally don’t compromise stucco’s integrity. Stucco is not waterproof; rather it is inherently breathable so moisture can leave the wall cavity. It is the tarpaper layer that protects the interior of your home from the elements and the stucco protects the tarpaper. Two things can damage the tarpaper moisture barrier: ice or cracks caused by structural shifting. If cracks are more than 1/8” wide or there is an accompanying bulge, you should call us for a free estimate to take a look. Please note that caulking cracks won’t seal the moisture barrier and will make a re-stucco job more difficult.

Q. How long will stucco last?

Longer than you or I. Great-grandpa Donnelly always said it should last for seven generations. I’ve found his words true if a house remains structurally sound. Stucco continues its hardening process with age. In fact, on some patch jobs, I’ve seen stucco holding the house together even though the framing has degraded. Or think about this: stucco jobs more than 5,000 years old can still be seen today in the pyramids of Egypt! So why do people re-stucco? People re-stucco to freshen up or change the color or texture.

Q. Can you match a stucco patch to my original color and texture?

The only way to achieve a uniform color and texture is to re-stucco the entire wall. That said, patching may provide some with a more economical and feasible option. To achieve a quality patching, our crews carry samples of the 32 most common conventional stucco colors with the “recipes” that produce them. While the stucco patch color can be lighter than the original for several months, we consistently hear from delighted customers that their stucco color matches after curing.

Q. What colors are available?

This depends on the type of stucco. There are two types of stucco: synthetic and conventional. Synthetic stucco offers most color choices available from paint stores and must be applied to a relatively smooth surface (we can smooth out any stucco surface). Conventional stucco consists of earth-based materials (crushed rock, iron oxide) so choices are limited to earth tones that are lighter in intensity.

Q. How do you apply stucco?

Just as artisans have for centuries, we apply stucco by hand. This is where the “art of stucco” comes into play. A stucco wall can’t be fabricated in a factory and attached to a wall. It needs to be applied by craftsmen who know the tools and material and have mastered the specialties of the art.

Q. How long does the process take?

This depends on the job. Think Stucco can perform small patch jobs in a single workday, while a typical re-stucco job (finish coat only) can take 1-3 “good weather” days. For larger, more complex jobs (additions, new construction or re-stuccos with significant patching), the process may stretch over several weeks.

Q. What is the best temperature for stucco application?

Above freezing.

Q. What are these ugly stains on my stucco wall and how can I clean my stucco?

Mother Nature’s interactions with your stucco cause most stains. Most result from concentrated dirty water run off (rain, pollen, dust and organic material) absorbed into the stucco’s porous surface. To clean stucco, start by saturating the entire wall from the bottom up to prevent absorption of dirty water created during cleaning. Use a hard, nylon-bristled brush with mild laundry detergent to scrub the stain. If unsuccessful, move to more stringent cleaning solvents like tri-sodium phosphate (TSP) or Lime-A-Way. As a last resort, try using diluted muriatic acid, but be careful as it can damage plants, some building materials and skin and eyes. If you desire a pristine wall, you probably need a re-stucco.

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Cruz Custom Stucco & Plastering, Denver, Colorado

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