Siding is the protective material attached to the exterior sides of a house’s walls. It is also known as wall cladding. When most people think of siding, they think of traditional materials like vinyl, plywood and fiber-cement.
However, there is an even more traditional siding material that can be used: Stucco. This type of siding has been around for centuries. Stucco is a type of cement mixture that can be purchased pre-mixed or as raw materials to be mixed together. Stucco siding applies well over both wood-sheathed and masonry homes. Its outermost layer is the visible layer on the exterior of a home. It can be painted to create a colorful exterior to your house.
Stucco has many advantages. Because it is applied in layers, it creates a solid concrete shell around a property, requiring less energy to keep it warm in the wintertime and cool in the summer months. It also reduces sound transmission and acts as a great fire retardant. In addition, it is low cost in comparison to other types of siding. Because patterns can be placed onto the last layer, more creative opportunities exist than with other types of exterior materials. Unfortunately, there are disadvantages to using stucco as well. Here are five common problems that can occur with stucco homes.
Practically all of the common problems associated with stucco are due to water intrusion. For the siding to maintain its integrity, it must remain moisture-free. For stucco to stay water resistant, the windows and doors must be tightly sealed and gutters and downspouts must be installed so they direct water away from the property. Cracking problems in stucco homes are either localized or comprehensive issues.
Localized cracking is due to water damage beneath the surface. General cracking throughout the stucco is typically a result of poor installation. Because stucco is made up of several layers, inexperienced contractors can easily apply the material incorrectly. In addition, cracking occurs when stucco sand becomes mixed with soil. Localized cracking can be fixed by employing a professional to address joint work and install a coating system. This allows the stucco to be strengthened without changing its look. For general cracking, it is recommended the entire wall of stucco be replaced.
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You could have a problem before you even notice cracks appear, so it is always best to do a regular inspection. Missing or aged caulking allows water into the wall cavity. Therefore, by locating and replacing missed or aged caulk around the trim of windows and doors, you prevent cracks from appearing. If you notice dried or shrunken caulk or if the adhesion is not present, then there is a high probability that water and air will intrude. Another thing to be aware of is drafts. If you can feel air coming into your home, then it means water can enter as well.
Excess moisture and water retention create mold. Not only is this aesthetically unpleasing, but it is also a health risk. Exposure to a moldy environment creates various health issues, such as coughing, eye irritation and skin irritation. People who are immune-compromised and people with mold allergies can experience even more severe reactions.
If your stucco home has mold, then the first step is to identify the source of the trapped water causing the mold. The affected stucco can then be removed and replaced. It is best to get a professional to do this. He or she can identify if there are any structural causes for the mold. If this is found to be the case, then rotten wood can be removed and a new high-end water management stucco system can be installed to prevent any future problems.
Keeping stucco completely moisture-free is actually impossible. After all, the stucco siding is on the exterior of your home. This means it is constantly battling with natural elements, such as rain. Over time, rainfall can take a toll on the stucco exterior of your property. This is because rainwater can wash contaminants, such as algae, from overflowing gutters, asphalt shingle roofs and dirty windows onto the stucco. The deposits from the runoff cause the stucco to stain, and the continual staining contributes to the overall deterioration of the siding. Stucco staining is also caused by home décor attached to walls, such as window boxes, outdoor lighting and handrails. Thankfully, the problem of stained stucco is easily solved.
While it is best to get a professional to repair stucco, Do It Yourself project experts can attempt the process themselves. To get rid of stains on stucco, a craftsman must:
- Use environmentally neutral protects in order to remove the stains.
- Clean the stucco with a low-pressure water spray.
- Apply a water-resistant sealer so the same problem can be prevented from occurring again.
Excessive moisture leads to severe rotting of the layers that make up the stucco walls of your home. The OSB sheathing and wooden beams can easily become rotten over time too. In worst case scenarios, stucco walls can turn to mush. Your home risks becoming uninhabitable if that happens.
Rot tends to first appear near windows and doors. It can be visible on both the exterior and interior of a property. Dark spots, cracks, stains and missing pieces of stucco are all indicators that your walls could be rotten. A smell of wet, rotting wood is also a telltale sign.
When checking for rot, be sure to inspect the penetrations coming out of the house exterior as well. A lot of rot damage can be found around penetrations, such as:
- Electrical outlets.
- Lighting fixtures.
Because of common problems, such as those listed above, homebuyers in wet or humid climates are often reluctant to purchase a property with stucco siding. If you are selling a stucco home, then it is likely that your property will sit on the market for much longer than homes with alternative types of siding. Before purchasing a stucco home, be aware it may be difficult to resell in the future.
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By Melanie Henson –