If you think that a stucco exterior is only appropriate for homes in the American Southwest, think again. While the material is popular in the hot and sunny Southwest due to its excellent energy efficiency, this attribute makes it a good choice for cold climates as well. Stucco is also an extremely durable and low maintenance material that should last up to 50 years. Synthetic stucco offers some advantages over real stucco.
Types of Stucco
Stucco is a mortar mixture of Portland cement, sand, lime, and water. The installation method depends on the exterior wall construction. On wooden walls, roofing felt or building paper is attached, followed by wood lath and/or wire mesh. The stucco mixture is then applied in three layers with a trowel, or in some cases, sprayed on.
If your home already has stucco, concrete, brick, or masonry walls, the stucco can be applied directly atop the old siding (although a bonding agent must first be brushed on). Often, an acrylic-polymer finish is applied over the stucco to prevent cracking.
Mock stucco is composed of an inner layer of foam insulation board, the synthetic stucco itself (a cement and polymer mixture), fiberglass mesh, and a finish coat. First used as a wall patch material in Europe after World War II, synthetic stucco is more flexible and a better insulator than traditional stucco.
Synthetic stucco is a mixture of cement and polymer that closely resembles real stucco but is easier to apply.
Synthetic stucco products are available as a stand-alone product or as part of an Exterior Insulating Finishing System (EIFS). Stand-alone products can be applied to nearly any substrate, but offer few advantages over a thick coat of paint. Synthetic stucco finishing systems, however, consist of a thick layer of insulation with one or more layers of synthetic material to give it a completely finished stucco look and feel. The synthetic finishing material is often made from acrylic resins for durability. Different sized grains of sand or other types of aggregate are used to achieve texture that mimics traditional stucco.
Once you’ve settled on traditional or synthetic stucco, the choices don’t end there. In fact, stucco offers more options than you might imagine.
- Stucco color is highly customizable. Pigment can be added to the mixture for coloration, or the siding can be painted after it is applied. This also means that you can repaint stucco siding whenever you tire of the old color.
- In addition to color choices, stucco can be applied in a variety of textures. From smooth and coarse finishes to raked and swirled patterns to artistic mosaics and murals, stucco is a veritable canvas for the imaginative homeowner.
Reasons to Install Stucco
Whether you choose traditional or synthetic stucco siding for your home, plan on enjoying the following benefits:
- Stucco is an excellent insulator that keeps your home cool in the summertime, warm in the wintertime, and dampens sounds. It may even help to lower your energy bills.
- Stucco resists fire and moisture.
- The energy-efficiency and durability of stucco make it one of the most eco-friendly siding materials on the market.
- Low-maintenance stucco generally only needs to be sprayed with a hose or lightly pressure-washed on occasion to remove accumulated grime. Any cracks that develop in the siding are easy to patch with paint and/or sealant.
Stucco Siding Costs
Actual home siding prices can vary depending on your location, the quality of the siding product, home height and layout, the complexity of the installation, whether existing siding needs to be removed and disposed of, whether the home exterior requires repairs, and other factors.
- Both traditional and synthetic stucco siding should cost around $6 – $10 per square foot installed. For an average-sized home with 1,500 exterior square feet, that’s a total estimated cost of $9,000 – $15,000.
- Applying a coat of stucco to existing stucco, concrete, brick, or masonry might only cost around $3 – $5 per square foot (~$4,000 – $8,000).