Stucco specialists can repair, replace or apply new stucco to the siding of a home or building. Stucco is a finish that is applied to the exterior of a home to protect the framing and structure from the elements—similar to installing vinyl or wood siding. Stucco has been used in architecture for centuries and is prized for its durability, resistance to heat and beauty. Traditional, lime-based stucco is quite different from the synthetic products that have come to market in recent decades, says Tim Hanson of Tim Hanson Services in Elk River, Minnesota.
The application of traditional stucco requires a skilled craftsman and generally costs more upfront, but it will last longer and protect the house in a way that saves money in the long run. Traditional stucco is heavy and handles wet weather well. Engineered stucco has a much thinner and smoother final texture and is usually applied over a foam-based product, says Hanson of Tim Hanson Services. Engineered stucco is more likely to crack, which is why stucco in general has a developed a bad name among homeowners. Several factors affect the cost of having traditional stucco applied to a home.
A basic fist-sized stucco repair can cost nearly the same as a window-sized repair, says Hanson of Tim Hanson Services. For stucco companies, it’s not just the material and the size of the repair, but it’s also the company’s business overhead—the stucco jobs not taken that day in lieu of selecting the current job, drive time and other business-related factors that determine cost. Here are some costs examples for stucco repair and application from Tim Hanson Services:
Window-sized or smaller stucco repair: $500
Stucco repair around two windows and two doors: $1,000
Stucco replacement on one side of an average garage: ~ $2,000
New stucco on a 12x12 home addition: $4,000–$5,000
The traditional technique of applying stucco to a home has been used for centuries, says Hanson at Tim Hanson Services, who learned the trade from an artisan in the 1970s. A wire lath (to reinforce the stucco) is installed over a water barrier of roofing felt. Two coats of stucco mud are applied (the scratch coat and the brown coat) over the top at approximately ⅝-inch thick. The third and final layer is typically hand troweled for a smooth or textured finish. Color can also be added, says Hanson at Tim Hanson Services, using powdered ore to either color match the existing stucco on a home or create a new color. New products on the market provide more color ranges than the white, brown and gray palettes of traditional powdered ore. Matching the color and texture of existing stucco when doing a home addition or a repair takes experience, says Hanson. So always look for a stucco company that has a proven track record.
Homeowners should inspect stucco regularly for cracks. Having issues repaired early can prevent leaks and rot—and save big money. Vinyl, wood and cement siding are all prone to leaks, but stucco is so airtight that it doesn't let any breeze in to help dry moisture out once it has entered through cracks, says Hanson of Tim Hanson Services. "Stucco water infiltration is near invisible until it’s too late. Regular inspections for cracks and failing window sills are a must." His company operates in the upper midwest where freezes and thaws occur hundreds of times each year. This expansion and contraction of water causes small cracks in stucco, which eventually turn into sizeable leaks. “Homeowners can save thousands of dollars with a few bucks and some preventative work each year,” says Hanson. By filling any voids found in stucco right away homeowners can keep their home moisture-free and their stucco healthy for life.
The transition from wood brick mold exterior windows to clad vinyl, aluminum or steel nailing flange windows in the late 1980s caused a lot of problems for homeowners with stucco, says Hanson of Tim Hanson Services. Wood swells in a wet environment so older, wood windows would push against the stucco in the rain, preventing moisture from seeping in. After clad windows became the norm, over time many homeowners discovered that these windows weren’t providing that same moisture barrier. Many homes suffered from rot, and stucco developed a bad name. In the early 2000s, industry standards changed and building inspectors now check for this issue. In addition, the Lath and Plasters Bureau has developed policies on appropriate stucco installation techniques.
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