Stucco has been around for centuries and is one of the oldest building materials used by man. It’s known for its durability, but does it have a downside? Over time, it can lose its original luster. Stucco can crack, split and allow mildew to grow underneath. Contractors are constantly looking for ways to restore stucco to its former beauty.
Stucco isn’t just a cement mixture. It is a combination of sand, cement, and water, along with other additives. Stucco isn’t just an excellent thermal insulator; it also does not reflect heat, which keeps houses more relaxed in the summer and warmer in the winter. As the years pass, harsh weather, wind and rain can wear down stucco over time, leading to a house having periodic refinishing.
Whether you’re dealing with a simple repair or a major renovation, it’s essential to know what kind of stucco finish you’re dealing with. A professional contractor can give you an idea of how your historical stucco has aged and what type of protection it now has. It’s important to know what your historical masonry substrate is made of before you begin any repair work since the right repair strategy could mean the difference between a successful repair job and one that will continue to deteriorate.
Stucco can be formed from several different materials including stone, clay, terracotta, earthenware, and metal. Modern stucco most commonly forms from either cement or sand and may contain a variety of additives to enhance the stucco’s color, texture and properties. In addition to these ingredients, some stucco contains a water-based acrylic coating or a metal oxide coating that protects the surface of the exterior wall from the elements. This coating is usually combined with stucco binders to form a smooth and even surface. Some binders and/or coatings may include heat or weathering resistant materials to resist damage from both sun and rain.
When it comes to durability and maintenance, traditional stucco performs well against both dry and wet climates. This is because the stucco does not shrink when exposed to moisture, so it is often combined with modern moisture resistant coatings that will resist mold and mildew. On the other hand, traditional Portland cement plaster, even when combined with modern moisture resistant coatings, does not perform as well in dry climates. It often warps and crumbles under dry conditions, especially when exposed to heat or heavy rains. Because of this, it’s often used to protect the exterior finish of structures in dry climates and as an intermediate finish between the more difficult stucco finishes and other more difficult commercial grades of stucco.
Portland cement and stucco should be applied with a small brush or roller. The first two layers should be applied with a standard brush and then the third layer can be applied with a stipple tool or a rotary tool. After the exterior finish is properly dried, it can be applied with a stippled or brush-edged application tool. While stippling applications provide a more even finish than a brush-edged application, a rotary tool can provide a sharp, more consistent edge. It is important to apply the finish layer in the same direction as the grain of the wood for the best results.
In addition to protection, stucco can also be used to accent the beauty of a house or to create a more natural look. The various decorative techniques using stucco are quite varied, and the finished product will depend on the application method and the skill of the decorator. For example, using small sections of stucco to create patterns or designs can create a very unique interior design. Using large sections of stucco to create a painting or molding effect is also possible, but care must be taken to ensure that the patterns do not show up in the paint.
When stucco becomes wet, it is usually very difficult to dry it. To fix this problem, a rapid-dry cement mixture is often applied to the surface to hasten the drying process. The rapid-dry mixture consists of cement dust and water and evaporates in just a few minutes. This allows a smooth surface to be quickly dried and prevents peeling. Other types of stucco may be used to fill in holes or to provide a smooth surface after the cement has set, such as linseed or gypsum stucco.