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Plastering and Stucco Questions, Answers,
and Tips
. This page is completely obsolete I moved the questions to
the Stucco News in 2001. Please click here to visit the stucco news.

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Write me any time. I try to reply to everybody.info@rtbullard.com
 specifications

Space joints around windows
Stucco mix for poured concrete
Flashing on windows, sheathing
Is it EIFS or stucco?
Old lime stucco on wood lath in bad shape
Is that your old truck on your home page?
Cracking in brown coat
crumbling stucco
EIFS tear off and replacement with stucco
more EIFS tear off and replacement with stucco
stucco over old bricks
straw bale house
removing ivy from stucco
Removing moss from stucco
Fog coat
stucco over painted block
pressure treated lumber
Finding a plasterer I can trust
wet, sometimes cold area


specifications
An architect wrote:
We do...
renovation to  many historic buildings ....  What I was hoping to find
when I surfed the web was a general specification for traditional stucco, new work and
repair of.  I would like to know if you would have such a specification from a previous
job you have worked on and if we could get a copy to use in preparing our own
specifications.  Please let me know as soon as you can if you would do this for us.
 

I have a Specification I use from the
Portland Cement Assoc. from 1929.
I found it from the web and have used it
for submittals. It is what we use.
Also, note there are no expansion joints
because they didn't have them in 1929 and
I don't see why they do now.



Space joints around windows
We are getting ready to tear off all of the eifs garbage on our house and
 replace it with real stucco. Our architect says not to  put all of the
 space joints around the windows, the stucco will crack regardless, and
 besides, the cracks give it more of an old look.  I don't really care for
 look of space joints either.  From the pictures on your web site, it looks
 like you do not use many space joints either.  They don't show if you do.
 Could you please tell me what method you use?

I quit using space joints a few years ago because
they look like hell and the metal casing bead rusts
after a few years and really looks like hell.
I quit using expansion joints unless people insist.
Then we make home-made joints like this drip edge,
with  V-shaped lumber:

http://www.rtbullard.com/stucco/progress/progress13.htm

All we do is butt the stucco up tight to the
window and leave it. Sure, you're going to have a hair
line crack next to the window, but so what?

This little crack is usually filled with caulking when
the window is painted. If not I don't see what harm it
does.

Mix for cast concrete
 What sort of mixture of Portland cement and  sand do I need to cover a
cement wall ?
It is poured concrete, not painted.
You need Flex-con or Acryl60.

What we do:
1 bag Portland type I
1/4 bag mason lime
20 shovels sand (masonry sand)

Dry mix your mortar and then mix
flexcon or Acryl60 50-50 with water
and mix in the mortar a little at a time.
Trowel on fairly neatly about 1/8"- 1/4" thick.
Rough up the surface with a float
or at least with a brush.

Finish coat is the same mix but with
white portland or a pre-mixed stucco finish.
Don't forget the flex-con. You can go 1
fourth flex-con on he finish, but we still
go 50-50.

This is fast and cheap. Flex-con costs
about $70 a 5 gallon bucket, but you need it.
A bucket makes over a bag.
A bag should do about 200
square feet for your scratch coat
and about 200 square feet for your finish coat.

You can find Flex-con or Acryl60
where they sell materials for plastering
swimming pools.
Flashing on windows, sheathing
   You do make sure that the windows are flashed properly don't you?  Our
 windows were not flashed when the house was built.  They told us it
 was not needed with the dryvit.  One building consultant told me that we
 could add pan flashing under the window and regular flashing on top
 without removing the window.  We were also looking into putting a celotex
 insulation board for energy efficiency.  We will probably have to remove
 most of the exterior sheetrock and replace it with CDX plywood.  One
 person said to use black roofing felt paper on top of the plywood.  I know
 that there is a corrugated tyveck product now available and that would
 provide more drainage area should water seep in.  I would put all three to
 ensure that there are no more moisture problems.  What do you normally
 use?  I am concerned about air space. I read on another web site that there
 should be an overhang over stucco.  Our roof line does not provide much of
 an overhang.  I noticed in some of your pictures there was not much of one
 either.  Could this be a problem?  The same web site said something about
 capping.
We always insist that windows are flashed before we
start.

No need to flash under the window if you have an adequate
window sill with a drip groove.

You may find that some of your windows have rotted and
need to be repaired or replaced. (After tearing off the EIFS)

Every horizontal wood trim surface should be flashed on top.
I would leave the exterior sheetrock. CDX plywood causes cracks
and I think it is inferior.
Unfortunately, It usually there when we get there.
I would re-use either the exterior sheetrock or celotex.
If you NEED plywood for bracing I would use OSB.
We have fewer cracks and it is cheaper.  Either plywood or
OSB should be spaced 1/8" as per manufacturers recommendations.
This prevents cracks. It is stamped on nearly every sheet
of plywood these days, but unfortunately some people
that build these new houses don't do it. Like
same idiots that don't put flashing over windows.

Without soffits on the house you need the fascia board
to cover the top edge of the stucco. One method that
I suggest is to put a 3/4" nailer on the top of the wall.
We finish the stucco to the nailer (also called a ground)
The finish fascia board overlaps the edge of the stucco.

For example, If you fascia or cornice is 10" wide, you
can nail a 1"x8" to the top of the wall first. (1X is 3/4"
thick). When the
stucco is done, it provides a nailer for the 1"x10".

This is probably what they referred to is capping.

If you use celotex, exterior sheetrock of durock, theoretically
you don't need a vapor barrier, but I am sure it won't hurt.
If you use durock the vapor barrier should go up first,
between the framing and the durock (according to USG).

We use what is already there, whether someone puts on
Tyvek or tarpaper. If there is nothing I use
tarpaper. Why not? People used it 100 years ago.

Make sure the tarpaper is started from the bottom and
overlapped from the top. This assures that water doesn't
get behind the tar paper.

The most important thing is to find experienced plasterers
to apply the stucco and not EIFS workers.


Is it EIFS or stucco?
Hi ... I have a question ... I'm looking at a house on the market that was
built in 1947.  It appears to be stucco.  What are the chances that EIFS
has been applied over an existing structure?  I know EIFS is a post-1950s
innovation and don't know if it is only used in new construction or if it
may actually be used to "refinish" homes (as with siding).  And, if the
home is indeed real stucco, what possible problems might arise and what
should I look for as far as warning signs?
EIFS is used a lot over old structures, The EIFS people call it “retrofit”. As a guess, I would doubt
there is any EIFS.
If the stucco was done well, it should still be there.
As a test, poke it with a screwdriver. A screwdriver will go in the EIFS easily and not into the stucco at all
( at least not without a sledge hammer). If it is EIFS, don't buy the house.
If it was done in 1947, it should be portland cement stucco. Most houses built before 1930 or so had lime
and sand stucco which isn't very durable and has to be patched all the time.
Portland cement stucco lasts forever as long as water doesn't get behind the wall. We patch a lot of chimneys
because the chimney cap cracks up and deteriorates so water soaks through the blocks and pops off the stucco.
You need to climb up and check your chimney cap every 5 years or so to make sure it is in good shape.
Also you need to check the condition of any flashing or windows that might leak and allow water to get behind
the wall.
We have patched a lot of stucco where water gets behind the wall from the edge of the window and pops the
stucco under the window. Surprisingly, the framing and wood lath (if any) is usually in good shape, unlike a EIFS house where the wood is all rotten an black. The Cement (or lime and sand) absorb the water behind the wall and prevent the wood from rotting.
Stucco on would framing almost always has cracks.  I wouldn't worry about them unless they are real wide.
With a careful inspection and a little maintenance, The stucco should last for centuries.
This is a good question. I think I should publish it.

Old Lime and sand stucco
First of all good site and info thanks. My house was built in 1924 and I see
what you mean when you said that stucco before 1930's is bad, mine is very
soft with spots that are almost sand. I did want to find a stucco man here
but I went to the warehouse and found 5 names, called them to come out and
give estimate but no one showed so I've designed to do-it-myself. l looked
into sandblasting but the bottom layer of paint (one of about 10) is giving
up and it comes off in large sheets with putty knife. so here is my plans,
take off all loose paint and stucco down to soled stucco and restucco myself.
My question is should I put a coating of glue on the house before I stucco or
just stucco. I guess the glue is a bonding agent to help hold the stucco on.
by the way I don't plan on painting the house again as I plan on putting on
colored stucco.
Never use a chemical bonding agent such as plaster weld on
the outside. It will dissolve and fall off. I promise.

Most of the stucco on houses before the 1930's was
just lime and sand. Not always.
If it's soft, it's lime and sand. It probably won't tolerate
sandblasting, and it isn't worth saving.
It is easier to scrape it off the wall,
put up new metal lath and do it over.

You may be able do it yourself, but I wouldn't unless
you time is worth about $3 an hour. There is a lot of
value to experience.
Sometimes you have to call people and bug them. Also,
since this is the busy season you may need to tell people
you are willing to wait for them. It is aggravating to deal
with anybody who doesn't have the courtesy to show up
and not call.

If you are determined to do it yourself, you may want a
rough finish. That way you don't have to get everything
so neat and straight. Color finishes look great, and no
need to paint.

Is that your old truck on your home page?
Yes. It is a 1953 Dodge.
Cracks in brown coat
> We have a contractor on site who has applied two coats
> of stucco over mesh wire and plywood.  As far as I can
> tell, everything has been done more or less properly,
> and they're planning one more finish coat.  However,
> the second coat is showing numerous hairline cracks.
> Is this normal?

Yes, it's normal. The finish will
cover them up.
Don't worry.


Crumbling stucco
I am having a house built. The stucco was finished a couple of weeks
ago, but they have not done the color coat yet. The other day I noticed a
couple of holes in the stucco. When I started to investigate I found that
the stucco was cracked and very soft. It has the strength of dried mud and
you can push your finger into it with no problem. The stucco just crumbles
to powder. I brought it to the attention of the builder, and he told me that
the problem was that the contractor had not kept it wet in order for it to
cure properly. He mentioned something about there being something that could
be sprayed on it to strengthen it. My question is, is there really such a
product? And if so, should I settle for anything less than them completely
redoing the job?
Tear it off. I would stand toe-to-toe with them. We do work that is less than perfect, too, but I feel they should tear all the mortar down to the lath and do it over.
Our base coat is so hard that you can't shoot a bullet through it.
It should have a compression strength of  >2000psi, like concrete.
Also, experienced people should put it on, not the same people.
There are a number of reasons that this happened.  First they didn't use portland but probably masonry cement. Probably type N, which is real weak.  Second, they probably put way too much sand in the mortar.
Third, they probably retemper the mortar after it set.  If you can crumble the mortar with your bare hands, probably all of the above.
Another thing , if the wall is the hot sun, mortar tends to dry out before it sets and turn to powder.  The solution is to constantly keep the wall wet while you are working.
We don't do any damp curing because I don't have time. If it is real hot outside it doesn't really do much good.
I don't know of any material that you can spray on to magically harden the mortar. That sounds like typical BS to me. Even if the surface is hard, the color coat won't bond good to powdery, weak mortar.
Also, if you don't get to the root of the problem, you will always have mortar popping of in the future.  Stucco looks like hell when you patch it several times.
Also, patching is expensive.
You need to tear it off.
You also need to send the people who put it on down the road.
You deserve a long-winded reply.
Your message really upset me.
 
 
 

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More EIFS tear off and replacement with stucco
Hello,
I am looking for advice.  My home, now 2 years old, is as it turns out Synthetic Stucco.  This
was not revealed at time of purchase.  The builder is evaluating possible damage and is
possibly going to replace.  They are using Portland Cement upon replacement of others in the
area.  Do you recommend Portland Cement?  Is it considered real stucco, not synthetic.
Should I go along with this?
I am told it will be at least a one month process.  Landscaping to be replaced. But the
inconvenience is devastating.
Do it as soon as possible. Cement stucco lasts forever, plus you
should not have much problem finding some one to do
the stucco. (in Texas)
The hard part is to find a builder to
cooperate in replacing the synthetic
stucco. Just don't get suckered into the
"one coat stucco" crap. Insist on the
real thing.
It's a minor inconvenience now compared to having
to rebuild the whole house later.
Plants will grow back but rotten framing lumber
doesn't.
I would like to have some pictures of the
replacement for my site.
Thanks for visiting my site.
Check back again soon.
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Stucco over old bricks
My wife and I own a brick house built circa 1850. The brick is in poor
condition. About half of the bricks are spalling and the mortar has eroded
considerably.

We would like to stucco the exterior ourselves rather than pay for
re-pointing of the brick.

Can we stucco directly on top of the brick since there is a lot of relief?
Would you recommend we use a wire mesh anyway? If so, what kind of wire mesh?
What sort of stucco would you recommend?

Are there any books available that would serve as a guide for the
do-it-yourselfer?
Stucco over the bricks is an excellent solution.
Mortar bonds fine to those old soft bricks,
so you shouldn't need any metal lath.
You need a hard portland cement mortar,
to hold everything together.

You would need to wet the bricks first
and scratch them (put on a scratch coat of mortar)
and let it sit overnight at least before browning.

Please don't do this yourself. You need to
find a qualified plasterer.
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straw bale house
I have constructed a 16x24 straw bale house on our school grounds
to be used as a outdoor classroom. We are getting ready to stucco the
walls. We have chicken wire to cover the bales. My question is-Where
do we start? Do we attach the chicken wire to the roof plate? What
would be the best product to use in Central Nebraska? Could we spray
on the first coat? Thank you for your time and help.

We have never stuccoed a straw bale house. There are different methods.
I have been trying to get a straw bale specialist to divulge their secrets for years.
I hope to have that info soon.



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"How do I remove ivy from stucco ?"
I have had SEVERAL people write to ask,
"How do I remove ivy from stucco ?"

I don't know except for scrape, scrape, scrape.
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Removing moss from stucco
Mix a little clorox (bleach) with water. Not too much, say about 2 cups
to a 1 gallon bucket. Too much and you'll be smelling clorox for months.
paint it on and let it sit overnight. Hose it off and presto! no moss.
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Fog coat
If an older home was built with a stucco exterior, would you recommend
pressure
washing the exterior and painting over it to change the color, or
re-stuccoing
and would an over-lapping coat adequately bond to the original surface?
It must
be the "pebble dash" variety.

Bridget:
If the stucco is painted, you are pretty much stuck with repainting.
If not, you can fog coat.

Fog coat is cheap and lasts a long time. It soaks in the pores of the stucco.
It can be applied with a garden sprayer. La Habra also has an online color chart.

Hope this helps.
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EIFS tear off and replacement with stucco
Hello, I live in Columbia, SC and I am a Registered Engineer and I have
an EIFS Stucco Home, built in 1993!

 As of Friday, 6/11/99, I've found out by phone, that the courts representing
EIFS is going to send us a check representing $4/sq. ft. to re-clad our home.

 However, I have a problem, they are only paying for the new costs for
 installing stucco and its the minimal price too! The costs for removal of the
old cladding is not included, nor, adding 10% to the total project costs for
measuring errors and etc., I would think!

 Could you answer a few questions for me?
   1) What is the average costs for removal of old stucco?
   2) What is the average costs for installing new
stucco?
  3) Do Stucco contractors add 10%++ to their project
 costs?
 4) What do I need to do to insure that EIFS pays for
 everything  this time and that its of excellent quality?

Thanks for your cooperation in this matter

It's hard to estimate your costs because where I live (Washington, DC area), it's about double
from where you live.
Also, I have yet to do my first . There is no class action statute in Virginia
like other states, leaving people to fight individually.
I have estimated a few EIFS tear off and replacement with stucco, but most
of these people just want to use my figures for litigation and they just waste my time.
Another problem We I have is we have too much work now just in construction
and remodeling that I can't get to anything soon.
 

The price for stucco on a new house in the Washington DC area is about $8.50
and up per square foot-probably about half that in South Carolina. In the tear-offs
I estimated about $2 per foot and more than $10 to put the stucco on because
a occupied house would probably take longer. I don't think $4 will be enough even
considering that construction and housing in general is cheaper
in North and South Carolina than here, but it should cover more than 50%.
You can use another material like cedar shakes which is cheaper than stucco an can
conform to the irregularities on the sheathing left by
the EIFS  tear off.
You may consider finding a stucco contractor to scaffold off the house and do the tear off
yourself. The stuff comes off easy. Also, bear in mind that some of the sheathing and
studs will need to be replaced and your yard will be trashed out.
I hope this helps you. Write back any time if you
have more questions.
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stucco over painted block
Your pictures look great.  We have just recently purchased a house that
is constructed of concrete block and was built in the 1930's, so there is
quite a few coats of paint on it.  As cheesy as it sounds, the house is really
very nice except for the concrete block exterior which we would like to
stucco.
    My question is how can we stucco over the painted block?  My husband says
the Portland won't stick to the paint and someone told us we could hang some
type of wire mesh over it and stucco over that.  If that is true, what type of
wire mesh?  If you have any suggestions, we'd really appreciate it.
Thanks for your time!

Here is a great method for stucco over painted block:

http://www.stucconews.net/questions/question2301.html

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I'm thinking of building a 6' high wall/fence on a concrete footing with 2X4
pressure  treated lumber as the bottom  plate and 2X4 cripple walls 16" on center
6' high. Then covering with papered stucco lath and appropriate metal weep screed and
metal trim. Then applying stucco.

 My question is can a exterior wall be made this high with 2X4s as opposed to
 going the block wall method which is then stuccoed .

 Would it be strong enough?  I thought maybe I would substitute 8', 2
3/8" steel chain link posts every 8' or so  embedded into the footing for added strength.
My field of expertise is finish carpentry so maybe this is a dumb idea.

Don't put lath and stucco on pressure treated lumber!
It cracks all to hell because the stuff warps all to hell.
Why not use block?
You don't have to lath, and you can scratch and double-up at the same time.
Also we never get any cracks on block.
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Finding a plasterer I can trust

Hi....we are real close to purchasing a home built in 1920 with a heavy stucco overlay over concrete blocks.  We plan to do some extensive remodeling to the home and of course there will likely be a need for outside stucco (and interior for that matter).  We are located on the Lake Erie shoreline near Port Clinton, Vermilion, Sandusky, Huron, Ohio areas.  Is there anyone you can recommend in our area that can repair stucco the real way...I am not at all interested in synthetic.  This overlay seems very thick...it is white.  Please let me know who I can trust.  Thanks.

I don't know a soul in your area but I know a good place to start looking.
Find a building supply that sells plaster. Specifically what we call Hardwall plaster
here or Red Top brown plaster (the kind you mix with sand) not Structolite
or Gypsolite (premixed lightweight aggregate plaster) Some one who buys Gypsum plaster
and mixes it with sand is from the old school like me.

Find out a small contractor who buys it a lot
and call him up. If you are uncertain, ride by and look at one of his stucco jobs. Don't call
references on the phone because people can tell you anything
good or bad and it bugs people to be interrogated.
    We could do it for you if you fly the whole crew up and back everyday by lear jet.
Then send a helicopter to pick us up at the airport. Not serious of course.
You need to find someone who doesn't do drywall or EIFS.  This is a plasterer.
Hope this helps.
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wet, sometimes cold area
> Hello,
> I have been looking into stucco and came across your site.  I wonder if
you might answer a question:  I am a carpenter living in the mountains of
North Carolina, a climate probably similar to where you live, and am
presently building my own house.  I am intending to have it stuccoed, but
since there isn't much stucco around here, I am wondering if it is suitable
for my climate.  Is cement based stucco over CDX plywood covered in felt
paper and lath workable for my wet, sometimes cold area?  If so, do I need
to paint the stucco?
> There is an experienced stuccoer (?) who just moved here from Florida.  I
am confident he can do the job, but he isn't used to our wet climate, so I
am looking for information elsewhere.  That's why I'm bothering you.
> Thanks for any help you can give

We do stucco here. I hope it lasts. I wouldn't ever paint the stucco
Never. There is a stucco paint that really isn't paint that they use in Southern California.
It's more of a stain that soaks in and still retains the natural color and breath ability.
You want to wait several years until it's stained and needs it.
There is a small town in the foothills called the Plains, Va
where almost every house is stucco. These houses were built in the late 1800's and
early 1900's and the stucco is still in good shape.
You are always going to get cracks when you lath and stucco over plywood.
The plywood joints should be spaced 1/8" to allow for movement and expansion.
This reduces the cracks dramatically. I plan to put this on my proposed stucco tips
page one day. We have so much damn work these days I haven't had much time to work
on my site. We get a lot fewer cracks with OSB board than with plywood. I don't know why.
You might hate it but I don't care we get a better product. We stuccoed a huge addition in DC
9 years ago that had OSB spaced 1/8"and there isn't a single crack to this day.
OSB is a lot easier to shoot staples or nail to because it isn't bouncy like plywood.
The guy from Florida is probably your
best bet. It's hard to find qualified plasterers.
Your stucco should last a long time IF:
1>You have adequate window sills
2. Keep the stucco at least 4 inches
off the ground. This not only prevents
the wall from getting stained , But if or
when the house settles or sags, The stucco
doesn't buckle.
3> If you have a chimney, make sure
you put new mortar on the cap every so many
years.

If you like stucco, put in on.

Please write back any time. I get tons of e-mail
and try to answer it all as soon as I can.
Check back to my site. I plan to have some
good updates and tips soon as well as answers
to question.

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