Stucco is a long-lasting, durable choice for your building’s exterior. It’s versatile and can be applied smooth or in rough, textured patterns. But while it is a strong, affordable choice for your building or home, just like any other material, it could be at risk for damage.
If you detect the signs of damage early you may be able to fix it early with a partial repair, saving yourself from the time and costs of a full replacement. To help you detect these signs, we’ve compiled the ways stucco can go wrong and how to detect them.
Why It Goes Wrong
From the smallest of cracks to blistering walls– not addressing your stucco’s damage quickly and properly could lead to big problems and even bigger repair costs. Here are some of the most common causes of stucco damage, and how you can identify them.
Water damage is the most common and most expensive form of stucco damage. It can occur for several different reasons:
- Weather: Things like rainstorms, earthquakes, hailstorms or strong winds can easily damage your stucco.
- Improper Composition: When stucco – a mixture of Portland cement, sand and water – isn’t balanced and mixed properly it can result in water damage.
- Improper Installation: Even properly balanced and mixed stucco can’t avoid water damage if it was installed improperly. This can occur if a flashing – an attached piece of metal used to prevent water from passing through – is installed incorrectly, or if your stucco was installed with gaps or holes.
- Interior Issues: Though environmental causes are most common when it comes to stucco water damage, your problem could be coming from indoors. Water damage can be caused by a burst pipe, a leaky air conditioner or even a misplaced sprinkler that has water landing on your walls, not your flower beds.
Water damage on your stucco has some key warning signs. Check your stucco for cracking, chipping, impact marks from weather damage (circular ones for hail damage) or even holes.
Another sign is staining or blistering on the top layer of your stucco wall. Staining can look like brown streaks under the corners of your windows or at the intersections of roofs and walls, whereas blistering stucco is noticeable when loose pieces of stucco crumble off, leaving your wall looking patched and cracked.
If you’re noticing water spots on your stucco long after the rain has stopped, this is also a good indication that your stucco is not draining properly. Keep an eye out for mold, or even a mildew smell to help warn you of a potential problem.
Sometimes, even the toughest of stucco is no match for a very determined animal looking for food or shelter.
Termites have been known to munch on stucco, and squirrels are willing to eat away at your siding for the chance to create a nest in your walls. Woodpeckers are another big offender, known to often hammer away on stucco, leaving traces of little holes. Since they return to places annually, these birds can cause thousands of dollars’ worth of damage a year over year.
When looking for wildlife damage to your stucco, be sure to look for holes, big and small, or look for where your stucco has been torn away or no longer meets the ground evenly.
To ensure that your stucco stays safe from future wildlife damage, be sure to consult with your local wildlife or exterminator experts for options including installing physical deterrents, taste repellents, or removal in addition to having the appropriate repairs done.
Wear and Tear
Depending on what kind of base it’s applied to and whether or not it’s properly cared for, your stucco could easily last anywhere between 50 and 80 years.
But, even if your stucco escaped any water or wildlife damage and was up-kept to the best of the previous owner’s ability, there still may come a time where you have to replace old stucco.
If your building is over 60 years old, we recommend bringing out an expert to inspect your exterior.
Your Repair Options
So, you’ve noticed signs of damage, and you need to get your stucco fixed. What next?
You can replace your stucco with traditional stucco or try out synthetic stucco, also known as EIFS. Let’s break down the difference between the two:
Traditional stucco is a time-tested material dating back over a hundred years. As we mentioned earlier, traditional stucco is created from a mixture of Portland cement, sand and water. It’s strong enough to be used on bridges and skyscrapers. so you can trust its durability.
Stucco also works as an effective form of insulation, helping keep your building cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Plus, traditional stucco is rather customizable, so it can easily be tailored to your needs.
The downsides of traditional stucco are that it’s rather susceptible to cracking, and it may come out a different color than intended depending on external factors like how hot it is and how long it takes to dry.
EIFS or Synthetic Stucco
EIFS is an acronym for Exterior Insulation Finish Systems that is also known as “synthetic stucco” because of how similar in appearance it is to traditional stucco. It is a multi-layered exterior finish that bonds together to form a protective finish that doesn’t breathe, making it weather resistant and vapor permeable.
The layers include an optional water-resistant barrier, an adhesive to attach insulation board to the supporting structure, a foam insulation board, a base coat, reinforcement mesh and a textured finishing coat.
You can easily tell if your building has EIFS instead of traditional stucco because EIFS sounds hollow when tapped on, as opposed to solid-sounding traditional stucco.
EIFS is considerably more crack-resistant than traditional stucco, but if moisture seeps into your walls from environmental or household causes, then it can get trapped between the layers and easily cause extensive damage.
If you choose to use EIFS stucco on your walls, it’s important to stay vigilant when looking for signs of water damage or disrepair.
Partial Stucco Repair
If you catch the damage early enough, your walls may be able to be repaired without a full replacement. Smaller cracks or individual areas of loose stucco are able to be patched up by a professional.
By detecting the cracks and patches early, you can save thousands of dollars on repairs. That’s why it’s important to look for signs early and take them seriously.
If you’ve spotted early signs of stucco damage, bring an expert out to assess the damage as soon as possible.
Is It Time to Replace Your Stucco?
While some signs of a much-needed stucco repair may be easier to identify than others, they all need to be addressed quickly to stop further damage from occurring. Whether you’ve noticed the beginning phases of stucco damage or need a full replacement, Independence Painting Co. can help. Contact us to help determine the right solution for you.