The Many Benefits of and Ways to Use Stucco Siding

Stucco siding works for many architectural styles and is a long-lasting option for your home's exterior.


Because of its reasonable cost, variety of applications, and many recipes for making it, stucco has been used for hundreds of years. We outline the many benefits of stucco siding and how to use stucco on various homes. Stucco works for nearly any architectural style and will last for a long time with routine maintenance.

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Spanish Style with Stucco Siding


Traditional stucco is a cement-type mixture added to sand or lime. Generally, a wooden wall is covered with galvanized metal screening and tarpaper, then covered with stucco. Stucco is often applied to brick or stone as well. The stucco is textured on this Spanish Mission-style home to give the feel of age and durability.

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Stucco Siding for Nontraditional Designs


Stucco siding has seen a resurgence in recent years because it is affordable, easy, flexible, and durable. Stucco can meet most nonstandard design needs such as curves and angles in walls. It performs well in most areas, although warm, dry climates are best.

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Stucco Siding is Durable and Breathable


Stucco's durability and ability to breathe are its primary benefits as a siding material. Stucco siding is solid, water-shedding, and impact-resistant. It offers rock-hard protection to the sub-wall, but water that gets in doesn't become trapped between the siding and the structure. This makes stucco resistant to rot and fungus and protects the air quality inside the house.

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Stucco Siding is Fire-Resistant


Stucco is classified as noncombustible by the Foundation of the Wall and Ceiling Industry. A three-coat system of stucco over 2x4s with metal lath attached, a layer of sheathing such as plywood, and a layer of drywall on the inside provides up to one hour of fire resistance.

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Stucco Siding is Reduces Noise


The thickness, layers, and unbroken surface of stucco siding reduce noise transmission. Because stucco seals openings as it is applied, it blocks paths that sound waves would follow in other exterior finishes.

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Stucco Siding is Insect-Proof


Unlike wood siding, stucco is not susceptible to attack from insects, rodents, or other gnawing or chewing creatures.

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Sealing Stucco Siding is Required in Some Climates


Stucco is relatively maintenance-free but should be sealed in some climates. For example, subzero temperatures in the Midwest make sealing necessary to keep the stucco from absorbing water that will freeze and expand, causing cracks, scaling, and leaks. Use a sealer such as high-quality elastomeric paint. Elastomeric paints will expand and contract with the stucco.

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Stucco Siding is Sturdy in Earthquakes


Studies have shown that stucco is the only exterior siding that can improve a building's ability to withstand an earthquake. After a major earthquake in California, engineers discovered that framed two-story buildings sided in the traditional three-coat stucco had a far better survival rate than other structures.

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Stucco Siding for Design Flexibility


Because it can be shaped and textured, stucco is used to achieve various architectural styles and designs. This Mediterranean-influenced home displays a small fraction of the number of features, textures, and patterns possible with this extremely flexible material.

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Stucco Siding Doesn't Need Painting


A tremendous bonus with stucco siding is that permanent pigments can be added as it's made, so painting will never be necessary. Before choosing a tinted stucco for your house, create a few test panels to see what it will look like when completely dry. The color will change as the stucco dries.

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Stucco Siding Can Be Painted


Stucco can be painted, but doing so turns a maintenance-free siding material into one that requires regular upkeep. New stucco must be allowed to cure for six to nine months before any primer or paint is applied. The stucco has to release its moisture, or the paint won't bond with the material and will peel prematurely. Select a paint suited to stucco and apply the primer recommended by the manufacturer.

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Stucco Siding Can Be Lime-Washed


If you want to change the color of your existing stucco siding, consider a lime wash. A coat of lime wash gives a house the old-world stucco look. Limewash was used by early Egyptians and likely even before, as it is relatively easy to make, and the materials are available in most parts of the world. Limewashing is done by filling hairline cracks with a mixture of lime putty and water, adding moisture protection but allowing the stucco to breathe. While limewash eventually wears off, making reapplication necessary every few years, many people let it age naturally and achieve the look of a historic patina.

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Stucco Siding Can Be Recoated


Recoating stucco siding adds a permanent new finish to a home but requires as much preparatory work as the original installation. Recoating provides the opportunity to try different textures or finish colors. Before recoating, the stucco surface must be cleaned so the new finish will adhere. Apply a permeable bonding agent that is geared to your climate.

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Stucco Siding on a Craftsman Home


This Craftsman-style home features spatter-dash-textured stucco walls with pebble-dash column bases and main-floor accent walls. Spatter-dash (or splatter, rough-cast, or wet-dash) and pebble-dash (or dry-dash) were the most common stucco finishes in the early 20th century. The spatter-dash finish is created by throwing stucco against the surface and using a stiff brush for a rough surface. The pebble-dash finish is created by throwing dry pebbles into a coat of fresh stucco.

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Stucco Siding on a Tudor Home


Steeply pitched gable roofs, artfully detailed masonry chimneys, clustered windows, and grand entryways generally make Tudor homes easy to recognize. Elaborate brick or stonework on the first story is usually accompanied by decorative half-timbering, or exposed wood framework, with the spaces between the timbers filled with stucco.

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Stucco Siding on an Italianate Home


Architectural elements sculpted from stucco distinguish this home as Italianate. They include quoins, arches, cornices, crowns, windowsills, and decorative bands. The formed stucco on the body of the walls has been shaped to give the impression of a carved stone structure that will be around for a long time.

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Stucco Siding on an English Cottage


A sloping slate roof, a massive chimney dominating one side, stonework, decorative half-timbering, and stucco are the characteristics of an English cottage or Cotswold cottage. The English Cottage style was born of the Tudor style, so the two share many architectural details. The smaller English cottage style became especially popular in the United States during the 1920s and 1930s.

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Stucco Siding is Economical


Stucco siding requires no painting or refinishing, saving as much as $1,000 annually. In addition, stucco systems cost less per square yard than brick, stone, cedar, or fiber cement siding. The low costs of installing stucco, its versatile design capabilities, damage resistance, impact resistance, fire resistance, and low upkeep costs make it one of the most cost-effective choices for residential cladding.

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