Stucco is a mix of Portland cement, sand, limestone, water and additives to increase the material’s strength and flexibility. The application of stucco has several steps:

  • The home’s exterior might be covered with a vapor barrier such as tar paper
  • Heavy wire mesh known as lath is attached to the exterior to hold the stucco
  • Traditionally, stucco is applied in three coats: the scratch coat which creates adhesion to the lath, the brown coat that produces a thick and even layer, and the finish coat which includes the specific texture desired
  • All coats can be hand-applied or sprayed on
  • The finish coat can be smooth or textured in a variety of attractive ways
  • One-coat stucco is just a thick finish coat and has been developed to reduce the time and cost of installation

Stucco Durability and Climate

Stucco is very durable. While most stucco installers provide warranties of 15 to 20 years, properly maintained stucco siding can last for more than 100 years. The proof is in the fantastic condition of many stucco-sided buildings dating back to the 19th century or earlier.

Stucco siding can be effective in most climates when it is maintained in good condition. However, since moisture can transfer through stucco, it might lead to moisture problems in the home’s framing in very damp climates. In freezing climates, water might get into cracks in the stucco and cause severe damage during freeze and thaw cycles.

Historically speaking, stucco siding has been the most popular in the Southwest where it is used on about 60 percent of homes. Nationally, stucco accounts for about 23 percent of siding.