Pros and Cons of Residential Stucco
Residential stucco is an attractive, customizable choice for the exterior of your home. However, like all siding materials, it has pros and cons you should consider.
Leaky stucco walls can be an issue, especially if the house needs to be flashed properly or insulated. You should install weep screeds and casing beads to reduce moisture.
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Stucco, derived from the Italian word for crust, resists fire and is more durable than vinyl or wood. However, its composite materials are prone to water damage and must be properly maintained.
Stucco is an affordable option when you’re ready to revamp the exterior of your home. It also provides an environmentally friendly alternative to other siding materials. Its composition is composed of a mix of cement and sand, naturally retaining moisture and heat. Stucco is also known to resist mold, rot, and termite infestations.
When constructing your stucco walls, make sure to use sheathing materials that are approved for structural purposes. That may include plywood, oriented strand board (OSB), cement board, or exterior grade gypsum sheathing. It’s possible to stucco over open framing, but this will result in a weaker and less stable wall system; it is recommended that you install a cement-based primer over the sheathing before installing your stucco to protect the underlying wood framing from moisture damage.
Depending on the type of stucco used, you may add a weather barrier such as asphalt-saturated paper or one of the many manufactured plastic-based sheets commonly referred to as building wraps. That will help to prevent the moisture from damaging the underlying sheathing and causing cracking in the future.
While stucco does not require much maintenance, it is important to perform routine inspections and repair any small cracks as they occur. In addition, you will want to clean your stucco walls regularly to remove dirt and debris. You should use a medium-bristle brush and a garden hose sprayer to clean your stucco for best results. A high-pressure power washer should be avoided as it can damage the surface.
To avoid mildew and fungal growth, use one part of the non-chlorine bleach solution and three parts of water. Apply the mixture directly to any stains and rinse with your garden hose.
To minimize the risk of cracking, you should also install control joints in your stucco walls. These should be spaced no more than 18 ft (5.5 m) apart and placed at the corners of your house and where two dissimilar walls meet.
Stucco is one of your home’s most unique and attractive siding options. It is known for its durability and aesthetic, but it can also add to your home’s resale value.
There are two types of stucco: traditional and synthetic. The latter is a popular choice among builders as it is more affordable and easier to install than the conventional material form. However, the resale value of both will depend on how your contractor applies the product.
A key factor in resale value is how well the stucco protects the underlying framing from moisture damage. Moisture infiltration can cause mold, wood rot, and other structural problems. Stucco creates a barrier around the structure that prevents this moisture from coming in contact with it, which can greatly reduce the risk of these issues.
Additionally, stucco is an excellent fire-resistant material. A one-inch layer of stucco provides a fire rating of at least one hour. That makes it a good choice for homes in areas with strict fire codes or in multifamily dwellings. It will not provide as much fire resistance as a brick masonry wall, but it will still far exceed the protection offered by vinyl.
Finally, stucco can be finished with various textures and colors to stylize your home’s facade. For example, lace and skip finishes can make the surface look rough, hiding imperfections, or you can choose an English finish to give your home a more aged appearance.
Another reason you should consider having your house clad in stucco is that it can help save on energy costs. Since it is an insulator, it will keep the hot air out in the summer and the cold air in the winter, preventing you from constantly turning up your thermostat.
If you are considering stuccoing your house, talk with a professional before starting. They can help you determine the best type of stucco for your needs and budget and walk you through some of the available styles and finishes. They can also help you determine which type of sheathing to use. Some common sheathing materials include plywood, oriented strand board (OSB), and cement board.
Stucco is naturally fire-resistant, and while it isn’t as inherently durable as stone or brick, it still stands up much better than vinyl. The mix of noncombustible and flame-retardant materials used in stucco creates a barrier that takes much time to burn through, giving you more time to get your family out of the house safely. It’s a great option for homes in dry climates or for anyone wanting to add extra peace of mind.
As with all siding options, there are advantages and disadvantages to using stucco in a home. One of the most important considerations is whether it fits your location well. It’s relatively brittle, which can cause problems if you live in an area prone to earthquakes or shifts in the soil beneath your home. That can lead to hairline cracks in your stucco, which should be addressed with elastomeric sealants.
Another drawback of stucco is its inability to repel moisture, which can be mitigated using a proper vapor-permeable weather barrier. Typically, this is an asphalt-saturated paper or one of the many manufactured plastic-based sheets known as “building wraps.” The weather barrier should be applied at least up to the bottom of the wall, covering any wood framing below it.
Although it does a good job of repelling water, stucco will still suffer serious moisture damage if installed incorrectly. It needs a clear drainage path, or it will stay trapped behind the surface and cause mold and rot to develop. That can lead to serious structural damage in your home, so you must have a good drainage system before installing stucco.
If you’re considering a stucco remodel, hire a professional contractor. They can make your home look better than ever while improving its durability and resale value. You should also regularly clean your stucco to remove dirt and stains from the surface. You can do this with a spray bottle of non-chlorine bleach, white vinegar, three parts water, or a mixture of detergent and warm water.
Like other home exterior finishes, stucco requires periodic maintenance and repair. The main thing to remember is that stucco will absorb moisture from the elements and may develop stains since it is porous. If this happens, the Interview Area recommends cleaning the stain using a mix of one part non-chlorine bleach to three parts water. Apply this solution to the affected area and allow it to soak in for about an hour before rinsing. That will help to protect your stucco from mold and mildew.
Stucco is also susceptible to cracking, especially if the house is new or not properly installed. Although these cracks seem cosmetic, they can be a sign of problems with the house’s foundation, and it’s important to have them sealed as soon as possible to prevent lasting damage.
It is a good idea to hire a professional when re-sealing your stucco, as this can be a tricky job that should be done every five years or so to maintain the moisture barrier. Repainting your stucco every three to four years is also a good idea, as this will keep it looking bright and fresh. Choosing acrylic paint for your stucco is important, as this will allow the wall to breathe and prevent moisture buildup.
Moisture is another big problem for stucco, as it can cause deterioration of the wood lath inside the wall. It’s important to reduce moisture levels by installing good gutters and downspouts and grading your yard so it slopes away from the foundation. Installing a rain screen to reduce moisture further and protect the wood lath is also a good idea.
Another way to protect your stucco is by using furring strips or nails to make up for any areas where the lath is not smooth and by constructing control joints in the wall that are spaced no more than 18 ft (5.5 m) apart. It’s also a good idea not to nail directly into the stucco and instead use galvanized nails or staples to avoid rusting and loosening the finish.