Some houses’ exteriors are designed with brick, concrete, or glass, all of which have benefits – but when it comes to overall performance, a stucco home is king.
Stucco dates back to the times of ancient Greece, and the material has also been found on the walls and monuments of ancient Rome.
That means stucco has been around for thousands of years.
Today it’s more popular than ever, but not many people stop to think about why it’s used and how it benefits our buildings.
Well, let’s step out of the dark and into the light as we cover all the good-to-know information about the building material.
By the end of the article, you’ll be able to confidently answer the question of what is a stucco home and explain why so many homebuilders choose to use it!
1. What is a Stucco Home?
A stucco home or building has had stucco applied to its exterior walls as a finish coat.
The building material is traditionally a mixture of portland cement, lime, sand, and water, although there are now a few variations of it (see next section for more details).
Stucco is used to help insulate the inside of homes and protect the structure from fire, moisture, and wind.
Its effectiveness and low price point have made stucco exteriors the most common used in single-family homes.
Heck, you might be in a stucco home right now!
2. What Are the Different Types of Stucco?
The two main types of stucco are traditional and synthetic.
Let’s take a closer look at each one and check out their similarities and differences.
*Traditional stucco is more commonly used on homes, and it is what people are usually referring to when talking about stucco.
Traditional stucco is made from the original recipe of sand, cement, lime, and water.
The material is very durable and fire-resistant.
With proper maintenance, it can last upwards of 50 years.
Traditional stucco can be applied in a range of different colors and textures.
Its low cost makes it an excellent building material to keep prices down.
Synthetic stucco is made with acrylic resin (not cement) and sand to give it the traditional look of stucco.
The material is purchased wet instead of dry, and it’s best known for being flexible, reducing the potential for cracking.
It doesn’t come in as many texture options as traditional stucco, but it comes in a wider range of colors.
- Traditional is more durable than synthetic.
- Traditional uses cement, and synthetic uses acrylic.
- Traditional lasts longer and is more affordable.
- Synthetic has more color options.
- Synthetic has fewer texture options.
- Synthetic is the better insulator.
3. What Are the Advantages of Stucco?
Since stucco has been used for thousands of years, surely there are some benefits, right?
Here’s a list of the advantages of stucco.
Stucco is durable.
It protects the home from mold, rot, termites, wind, and more.
Other materials like wood are much more susceptible to damage and can result in costly repairs.
As long as stucco is applied properly, the material will last between 50 and 80 years before needing to be redone or touched up.
A house fire can cost you everything.
The materials that make up stucco are highly fire resistant and can help prevent the home from catching fire or a fire spreading.
On average, stucco can resist flames for up to an hour, which would give people living in the house a better chance of safely evacuating.
Other materials, such as wood and vinyl, can only resist flames for a few minutes.
Stucco comes in all types of textures and colors.
It gives homeowners many options to pick from to find the right aesthetic.
Houses with stucco may appear smooth, grainy, or anywhere in between.
Keep in mind that synthetic stucco doesn’t have quite as many texture options.
Maintaining stucco is simple.
As long as you don’t live somewhere with frequent heavy rain, the material should hold up with minimal problems.
As long as you look out for small cracks and patch them up, stucco will hold up just fine!
Not only is stucco a wonderful building material, but it’s also cheap!
In general, it costs between $6 and $9 per square foot.
That comes out to around $10,000 for a 1,500- square-foot home.
Once installed, you likely won’t have to worry about redoing the material again, or at least not in the next 80 years.
4. What Are the Disadvantages of Stucco?
Stucco is an excellent material, but it’s not without a few pitfalls.
Whether your home already has the material or you’re thinking about using it to build a home, you should know the disadvantages of it, so let’s take a look!
Traditional stucco is not very flexible.
That means if the ground underneath it shifts, the stucco can crack, leading to problems.
If you live in an area where the chances of shifting are likely, you may want to choose synthetic stucco, which is very flexible.
Stucco can be easily permeated by water.
If you live in an area that frequently rains, the moisture can cause damage.
It’s important to ensure stucco has been correctly installed to reduce the amount of moisture that gets in.
If the stucco is neglected, installed in a wet climate, or applied to a house on unstable ground, cracking can occur.
Cracks that don’t get sealed will lead to much bigger problems.
Homeowners with stucco siding need to periodically scan the walls of the house and take the appropriate actions if any cracking is identified.
5. How Often Should Stucco Be Redone?
Determining how often stucco should be redone depends on a few different factors.
As long as the material is applied properly, it will last between 50 and 80 years, but you may need some touch-ups along the way.
It’s recommended that you check for cracks at least once per season and fix any major issues that come up ASAP.
That doesn’t mean you have to put a whole new layer of the material on the entire house, but you should identify things like peeling, mold, cracking, blistering, and white streaks.
It’s also recommended that stucco walls should be painted and resealed every 5 to 10 years depending on the kind of sealing you used.
Before painting, investigate the walls for anything problematic, such as cracks, and fix the root cause.
As long as you do the proper maintenance, there’s no reason your stucco shouldn’t reach its maximum lifespan.
6. Does Stucco Decrease Home Value?
So now, when someone asks you what is a stucco home, you’ll have a strong answer to give them.
But what if they asked you if the material decreases the value? Would you know what to say?
Stucco will not decrease the value of a home.
In fact, if the stucco was installed correctly or has recently been redone, it could actually increase the value of the home.
The material is considered to be an attractive aesthetic, and it is a top-notch insulator and fire resistor.
Don’t expect stucco to shoot the value of your home through the roof, though.
Stucco homes are extremely common, so it’s not a feature that stands out from the rest.
But if you’re looking to buy a stucco home and are worried about resale value, don’t be!
The material will help keep the house in tip-top shape.
7. What Happens If Water Gets Behind Stucco?
Water getting behind stucco is a real problem.
The moisture will soften the material and cause pieces to break off if the issue isn’t dealt with.
Here are a few common signs of water leakage.
- Damaged window caulk
- Soft patches
If you notice any of these signs, the quicker you act, the less damage there will be, and that will save you money.
To prevent water leakage, have a professional apply a sealer or paint that reduces the amount of water the stucco absorbs.
For the best results, this should be done every 5 to 10 years.
8. What is the Best Color for a Stucco House?
If you’re getting ready to paint your stucco house, you may be wondering what the best color for the material is.
The good news is that you can paint stucco walls in whatever color you’d like.
Many people choose lighter colors, such as beige, brown, and off-white, to avoid premature fading.
Darker colors absorb more heat and will fade much faster.
Before painting, you or a professional need to thoroughly wash the walls and investigate any areas that need repair.
The best kinds of paint to protect stucco walls from moisture are acrylic, masonry, and elastomeric.
9. Is It OK to Power Wash A Stucco Home?
Stucco should not be power washed with high water pressure.
You may have seen DIY websites and blogs say that it’s okay, but it really should be avoided.
The intense pressure of power washing can lead to cracking and can cause liquid to get behind the material.
So, how can you clean your stucco walls?
The best way to clean stucco is to use a mix of water and cleaning additives and spray it onto the material.
Let’s go through the exact steps to make sure your walls are nice and clean!
- Scan the walls for cracks or damaged areas.
- Repair any issues.
- Rinse the walls with a hose.
- Make a cleaning solution with water and dish soap (water and bleach is a better solution for severe grime).
- Set your pressure washer at 1,500 psi.
- Rinse at a 45° angle while keeping the washer two feet away from the wall.
10. Do Stucco Homes Attract Termites?
Stucco doesn’t include any materials that attract termites–phew!
But hold on a second; that doesn’t mean you are in the clear just yet.
Stucco is often accompanied by foam boards for insulation, and termites love these form boards because it makes it easy to travel all around the house, accessing materials they like to chow down on.
Termites are usually able to get to the foam board by crawling underground, accessing a weak point where the house’s walls meet the earth.
Cracks in stucco are also an open invitation for termites to enter your home, so make sure you stay on top of sealing any areas with splits!
11. Is Stucco Better Than Concrete?
Stucco and concrete are both excellent building materials.
And let’s not forget that stucco and concrete are both mixtures of materials that include cement.
Stucco is much lighter than concrete but not as secure.
Because concrete is so strong, it’s often used as the foundation for homes (it’s also used to build massive structures like skyscrapers).
Stucco is more of a cosmetic material than something used to build the foundation or frame of a home.
For example, stucco could be applied to concrete to get extra protection or a new aesthetic.
Both materials are highly fire-resistant and fairly inexpensive.
12. Is Stucco Stronger Than Brick?
Stucco is strong, but how does it compare to good ol’ brick?
Brick is one of the strongest building materials available, and it is, in fact, stronger than stucco.
So, then why is stucco more popular than brick?
Well, brick is harder to manufacture and transport, and more energy equals a higher cost. It’s also limited to select colors, and not everyone wants the old fashion brick-look.
But it’s still a wonderful material that can be used both as a building’s structure and as its facade.
It also lasts up to 100 years if properly maintained.
Owners of a brick house do need to be careful of mold, which can grow from absorbed moisture.
So, just like stucco, it needs to be cleaned periodically.
13. Are Stucco Homes Energy Efficient?
Electricity is expensive, and the materials used to build a home play a huge role in how energy efficient the building is.
When stucco is properly applied, it can make a home much more energy efficient compared to different types of siding, such as vinyl.
This is because stucco is a great insulator, which means it helps your home stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer without burdening your A/C or heating system.
A stucco home could save up to 20% on electricity bills (according to one Michigan manufacturer) –who doesn’t want that?
It’s also important to note that synthetic stucco is more energy efficient than traditional stucco because it has an R-value of around 5, while traditional stucco has an R-value of around 0.2.
If you’re in the process of building your home, talk with the homebuilder about which stucco would be better for your home.
So, what is a stucco home?
Do you feel like you have a better idea now?
Stucco is the most popular material used on a home’s exterior.
Stucco homes are protected against the environment, well insulated, fire resistant, easy to maintain, and aesthetically pleasing.
The material is a great and affordable option that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Sure, there might be a few downsides to using it, but there are far more upsides to it.
So, when your home has been applied with stucco, remember that the ancient Greeks would be proud!
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