STUCCO QUESTIONS - CALL - 804.677.5459

stucco Faq, Frequently Asked Questions (stucco FAQ's)

Stucco Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q. What if my stucco is painted?

A. The reason most homeowners paint their stucco is because the cost of restucco is more than just hiring a painter to paint over the existing stucco.  Although seemingly less expensive up front, the misconception that painting is cheaper couldn't be more wrong.  Here's why...Once, usually within 2 to 3 years, the paint starts decaying, chaulking and peeling, the homeowner calls us and says, "My stucco looks like it needs to be freshened up.  Can I get an estimate?"  Of course we set an appointment to look at the home to discover that it has been painted.  Bad news for your checkbook.  Now we have to hire a sandblasting firm to remove the existing paint.  Why?  Because it is a layer that would prohibit proper bonding of a new stucco coat.  We provide a product that lasts decades, far longer than any paint job.

Q. What is white-wash?

A. Getting your home "white-washed" is similar to getting your home painted.  Typically when stucco is applied to an existing home there is a two-part process, a wash coat, and a texture coat.  The problems that arise with only white-washing your home are the shortened life of the job, and the cost of future stucco repair and finishing.  The reason stucco lasts so long is that the cement is also mixed with sand.  Silica sand resists wear and weather for years, where a "white-wash" is just watery white cement brushed over the wall.  This begins to chalk and wear within one year.  To make things worse, just like painted stucco, it must be sandblasted off when a restucco is desired.  A traditional stucco coating would consist of this same white-wash coat, however, over that another coat is applied consisting of a cement mixture including twice as much sand, thus creating strength and resistance to aging and weather.  The white cement may also be colored for a pleasing look.

Q. What is Kickout Flashing?

A.   A critical location where moisture entry can do considerable damage is where a lower roof cornice stops in the middle of a stucco wall.  Kick-outs should be fabricated with watertight seems and be big and broad enough to handle water run-off from a variety of roof pitches.  Another critical element is the use of gutters to evacuate the water away from these sensitive locations.  There are several local materials suppliers that now offer these kick-outs in both left and right versions.  Installing the kick-out after the installation of the shingles is a very difficult procedure for the lather or stucco contractor to perform.  For this reason it should be coordinated so that the kick-out is installed by the roofer as the shingles are being laid up.  This "kick-out" flashing will help keep water from running down the new stucco wall and add life to the original appearance of your stucco.

Q. What are the signs to look for to determine if my home has a problem?

A. On the interior, if the bottoms of windows are discolored or the base trim is warped or carpet is wet, these are indications of a leak. If there is a moldy smell in the house, there may be leaks into the wall cavities that may not show other signs of leakage. On the exterior, if there are brown streaks below the corners of windows or where window units are joined, it is likely there is a leak at that location. Intersections of walls and roofs are also susceptible to leaks, which will be indicated by brown streaks.

Q. What causes the problems?

A. Window leaks are the cause of the majority of the damage but the causes may be many, including:

  • The paper around windows and other openings was installed incorrectly.
  • Head flashing was not used on windows (windows with flanges were thought to be self-flashed).
  • One layer of paper was used. Water may be leaking through the paper.
  • The windows themselves leak.
  • Kickout flashing was not installed at the wall/roof intersections where the roof line does not extend below the wall.
  • The deck ledger board was not flashed.
  • Moisture from rain during construction or wet building materials remain in the wall (construction moisture).
  • Interior moisture is permeating into the wall.
  • Lack of drying capacity. All walls will likely leak sometime during their life. In addition condensation and construction moisture will be in the walls. Stucco walls are very tight and cannot withstand much moisture without creating mold and rot.
  • Solar drive may be pushing moisture from a wet stucco wall into the wall cavity.
  • Type 15 felt may be acting as a vapor retarder trapping moisture in the wall.
  • Oriented strand board (OSB) sheathing has a low perm rating and it may be acting as a vapor retarder creating a double vapor retarder situation. In addition OSB absorbs and retains moisture making it vulnerable to mold and rot.
  • The staples that stick through the sheathing are collecting frost or condensation and dripping within the wall cavity.
  • The high number of staples used to fasten the lath creates many penetrations that could both leak and condense moisture.
  • The staples were driven into the lath with excessive force causing the lath to cut the paper creating a leak.
  • Wind driven water is getting on the wall through the soffit vents and running down the wall between the sheathing and the paper.
  • Weep screeds were not used at the bottom of the stucco. This may prevent trapped water from draining.
  • Stucco was installed below ground. This may prevent trapped water from draining or may wick water up to the framing. In addition, when stucco is applied below grade there is no clear definition of where grade should be and often the grade is placed against the wood framing causing a guaranteed rot situation.
  • Stucco is installed directly on the foundation without paper or a weep screed. This prevents trapped water from draining.
  • Landscape trees or bushes that contact the stucco create an area that introduces and holds moisture in the stucco. The moisture permeates into the wall.

Q. What should be done if there are signs of leaks on our house?

A. There are a number of steps that can be taken or places to call for help.

  • The contractor shall warranty the house for one year against defects and ten years against structural defects. Some builders may provide additional warranties.
  • The State Commerce Department, may provide assistance with contractors or provide information on the availability of the state builder's recovery fund.
  • Your State Building Codes and Standards Division may be helpful in resolving homeowners stucco problems.
  • Your insurance company may participate in the cost of stucco repairs.
  • Private home inspectors may help identify problems.
  • Licensed Contractors can make necessary stucco repairs.

Q. I own a stucco home, and I don't see any symptoms of leaks right now. Is there any preventative action I can take that will keep problems from occurring?

A. Most of the problems we have seen are caused from leaks around windows. Caulking the sides and bottom of the window will help prevent water infiltration. There are different schools of thought on caulking the top of the windows. One is to caulk the top of the window to prevent water from getting in and the other is to not caulk the top so water that is behind the stucco but on the tarpaper can get out. A moderate position is to caulk the top of the window but leave some small openings in the caulk to let any water that may be on the tarpaper out. Additional openings and penetrations such as doors and vents should also be caulked.

Q. Are there tests that can be done to determine if there is a moisture problem, even if there are no symptoms right now?

A. Yes, there are a variety of tests that private inspectors may use. They range from passive tests that use instruments to take relative moisture readings in non-conductive solid materials such as wood and masonry, to intrusive tests where openings are made to allow a probe inside the wall cavity to measure moisture. These tests may be helpful in providing information that may indicate whether there is a moisture problem. The only way to be certain, however, is to remove either the sheet rock on the interior or the stucco on the exterior of the home.

Q. If there is a problem with the stucco on my home, what will be required to correct it?

A. A building permit is required for stucco repairs. The building code requires that all wood with mold or rot be removed and repaired. Areas that do not show signs of leaks, mold, rot or deterioration may remain.

Stucco Questions and Answers

Old Method New Method

One layer of type 15 felt was the most common. Less than 10 percent used 2 layers of type 15 felt. Grade D paper was not available.

Two layers grade D felt are required by the State Building Code.

Flanged windows were considered to be self-flashed.

Flashing is required over all windows and doors.

Paper was installed over the window flanges.

Paper is required to be under the sides and bottom window flange.

Paper was not sealed at the windows.

Paper must be sealed at the windows with tape or caulk.

Paper stopped at the soffit line.

Paper is required to the top of the wall.

Kickout flashing was mostly an unknown term.

Kickout flashing is required at wall intersections where the roof line does not extend past the wall.

Weep screeds were not used.

Weep screeds are required.

Things to know before you hire a stucco contractor!

Is he licensed?
Is he insured?
Does he have references?
How much experience?
Is he a certified applicator by the manufacture?
Get a written contact!
Get an exact quote with details
will he get a permit?
Is he respectful?
Communication is critical!
Beware of the low bid!
Check with the Better Business Bureau