When choosing exterior or interior material for your home, there are many choices to make. The information you collect on each of your options will help narrow down the possibilities. One of the finishes available is stucco.
Stucco is one of those words in the English language that has two meanings. Stucco is a blend of materials mixed and then applied on building surfaces. It is also the action you take when you apply the stucco mud to a surface in a home.
A mixture of sand, fibrous binder, and water is the recipe for house stucco. The ingredients blend into a set consistency (somewhat like making cake batter) ready for application.
Stucco use goes back centuries and appears in buildings of historical significance.
In the past, the recipe was a hodge-podge of materials taken from tradesmen surroundings, with each ingredient altering the look of stucco.
Some of the odd historic ingredients to bind the sand or lime were:
- Marble or brick dust
- Animal blood
- Keratin or glue sizing (animal hooves and horns)
- Wheat paste
The waxes and oils added helped the stucco repel water. By adding a sugary substance, it reduced the water needed and made it set quicker.
The alcohol introduced air and made the mix less dense but also less water repellent.
In the 1800s, a binder called Portland cement was developed. It changed the stucco recipe and soon became a standard in building projects. Tradesmen found it was not compatible with patching historical surfaces, so analyzing what went into the stucco currently in use is an important part of using stucco for repairs.
In historic homes, the inside walls used layers of thinned stucco called plaster and wooden strips topped with brown paper, to give stability to the wall. Anyone demolishing or upgrading an old home can tell you that this method surely did its job as it is tough to destroy.
With the mining of the mineral gypsum, they developed a wallboard made of solid gypsum core surrounded with paper. It soon became the material used inside buildings for walls. In the 1950s, new developments of glass fibre and acrylics made their way into the stucco mix, leaving different properties and textures.
Plaster is stucco. It is a specific mix with a considerably thinner consistency, and it is used on inside surfaces and for decorative mouldings.
In some houses, you will find ceilings with a stucco application over paint. The dreaded popcorn ceiling is a stucco developed for a spray application. Builders have moved away from using plaster on the ceilings in this century.
If you go to a local hardware store, you will see there are different bags of cement and plaster mixes for various purposes. There are mixtures for sidewalks and walls, exterior stucco base, finishing mix, and interior drywall mud.
There are also synthetic and acrylic blends that give premixed colours and textures. If you are unsure of what kind to buy or order, you can talk to a professional exterior/interior stucco contractor.
Alternatively, you can speak with a store rep to find the right materials and tools.
Stucco can be applied by machine or hand troweled.
Coat one– water-resistant barrier placed on outside walls, a wire mesh goes over the barrier, and a 3/8 inch scratch coat applied and allowed to cure and dry.
Coat two– a 3/8 inch brown (thinner consistency to the scratch coat) coat of cement stucco is applied and allowed to cure and dry.
Coat three– a 1/8 inch finish stucco coat is applied and allowed to dry.
While it seems easy to plan a stucco project with premixed bags, the trick is getting the right consistency when water is mixed in. You will also need to know how to stucco (apply) finish coats properly on a variety of surfaces. If the mixture is incorrect, or the stucco is not allowed to cure properly, you might find it cracking and dropping off the mesh. It is a good idea to consult or retain a professional stucco application contractor for exterior finishing.
An interior plaster professional is a good investment too. After the gypsum drywall board is up, a professional will apply tape and thin coats of plaster to hide the board’s seams and let it dry. Then they will sand and apply another coat and sand until they are satisfied with the result, and all seams are invisible.
Any handyman knows that the proper taping and sanding between coats, the consistency of the mix used, and a professional touch leads paint perfect finishes.