Stucco is a type of exterior plaster that is applied over wood, metal, or stone. It is found in many forms all over the United States. Despite the fact that it is primarily seen as a protective covering, lack of maintenance and care hastens its degradation.
Stucco has a rich and vibrant history of use all over the world. Just a few days ago, archaeologists discovered an ancient Aztec temple made of stucco in downtown Mexico city. The temple was dedicated to the Aztec wind god ‘Ehecatl’, and some of the original stucco used still remains: a remarkable feat considering the temple was built in the late fifteenth century!
Stucco has been used as a building material for thousands of years, although the composition of today’s stucco differs from the material used in ancient times. For many centuries, stucco was primarily lime-based, but the popularization of Portland cement changed this. Nowadays, stucco is a much harder material due to its cement composition.
Benefits of Stucco
Stucco is a popular building material for a variety of reasons. It is inexpensive, and weather-repellent (although over a long period of time it needs maintenance and repair). It can create a look that makes the building appear more elegant when used to cover cheaper materials. Moreover, it can be colored easily, so possesses decorative appeal. It is also malleable enough to be used for decorative features, giving it a higher degree of versatility than wood, brick, or masonry.
The benefits of using stucco on the exterior walls of a home are clear. What happens, however, when it starts to undergo major wear and tear, particularly when the home is very old? Luckily, there are ways of determining that your home needs a stucco repair job, and signs your stucco could use a face lift:
One of the downsides of stucco is that it is a porous material. This means that it has tiny spaces or holes in its composition which liquid or air can pass through. The holes may not be visible to the human eye, but they dramatically impact the usability of the material. Heavy winds or rain can direct moisture into the stucco siding over time, resulting in water damage. Water damage may not be as easy to spot as cracks or other cosmetic issues, but it is a serious problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
The signs that will tell you your stucco has water damage and needs a facelift include brown streaks or strains under the windowsills outside the house, or the same stains appearing under the corners of your windows. These stains sometimes also appear at the corner where the roof and walls intersect: again on the exterior where the stucco covers the walls, so don’t waste time examining your interior crevices!
Another giveaway sign that your stucco needs a facelift due to water damage is the tell-tale musty smell of mold or mildew. The odor can can found both inside and outside the home, and in fact if the water damage is extensive you may even notice signs of damp carpet or patches of water inside the house. This is when the problem has not been addressed and has become a degree more serious, because the water damage to the exterior stucco is already spreading and causing interior damage.
Finally, if you notice any of these signs, or discoloration in the stucco, particularly when it appears in entryways or near to windows, it’s time to have your stucco repaired. A professional in this case will assess the situation and depending on its severity will either recommend having the stucco replaced in badly-damaged areas or will simply remove smaller affected areas and repair the stucco as required.
Cosmetic issues don’t initially seem to be something that warrants the need for immediate repair, but imperfections in stucco can hide more serious problems. Tears and cracks, for example, are not just unappealing to look at, but can also lead to increased moisture finding its way through the cracks and causing much more serious damage.
Moreover, even a tiny crack can allow in enough moisture to completely ruin the underlying supportive material: particularly wood. There have been instances when a crack in the stucco siding allowed so much moisture through the concrete block wall that mushrooms were growing along the wall inside the house: even growing along the carpet, too!
In order to avoid such calamities in your own house, it’s imperative that you constantly monitor the condition of your stucco and look out for any signs that even show the earliest beginnings of needing repair.
Poorly Installed Stucco
Unless you built your own house and were vigilant that every stage was carried out the highest quality, you have no way of determining the quality of the stucco installation that covers the exterior walls of your home.
If, for whatever reason, your stucco is or was incorrectly installed, your immediate attention is required. One sure sign of poorly installed stucco that should act as a red flag when you spot it is cracks that appear on the foam trim. This highlights the facts that the seam of the stucco hasn’t been correctly connected. A crack like this isn’t fixed by doing a simple repair job, either. A crack of this kind may be patched up, but any expansion or contraction of the stucco will simply make the crack form again.
If you notice a crack on the foam trim of your stucco, you’re probably better off having it re-mediated as opposed to just repaired. There are significant differences between stucco repair and stucco remediation: repairs are generally a short-term fix for minor issues, while remediation is a long-term fix which often involves the complete upheaval and re-installation of the stucco.
If you’re tired of looking at the cracks and crevices in your stucco, you might decide to get your stucco replaced: particularly if you’re tired of carrying out frequent repair jobs on the cracks and water damage. Stucco can be a fiddly material to work with, and some methods that work with other materials will make your stucco look even worse, so just make sure to hire experienced contractors to carry out the work you need done. It is especially important to ensure that the contractors you hire are fully licensed and insured, so you have the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’re hiring the most qualified workmen.