Why Use Stucco For My Home?
Stucco has been used in architectural structures since the Greek and Roman era and during the Renaissance. It spread throughout Europe and gradually became popular in America. Stucco is a finishing plaster composed of sand, lime, water and other ingredients. It is a strong, attractive and damage resistant covering for walls and ceilings. It is an excellent building material for hot areas as it helps to regulate the temperature. It is non-combustible and its surface burning properties include no flame spread and no smoke development.
Currently, there are two distinct types of Stuccoes –
Traditional/Hard Coat Stucco – This is basically cement mixed Stucco. The traditional stucco is durable and able to withstand harsh environments. It is porous and can breathe, so, dries quickly and resists water damage.
Conventionally, lime was used with sand and water. As lime is slightly soluble, the mixture has a self-healing tendency. At present, stuccoes are usually made up of Portland Cement, sand and water resulting in a hard and brittle variety.
To install hard coat stucco, first the substrate is installed followed by a metal lath and then a coat of stucco is applied with a trowel. It is allowed to set and then another coating is applied. Normally, the process involves a scratch coat, a brown coat and a finish coat (may be colored).
Stucco can also be applied on a paper and wire. The coats should be thicker. The first coat (scratch coat) covers the wire. It needs to be scratched as soon as it sets. The second coat (brown coat) gets bonded to this coat and as usual the finish coat is the outermost layer.
Synthetic Stucco – Since 1950s, a number of houses were built using a variety of synthetic materials resembling stucco. Fibers and synthetic acrylics were added to the cement stucco mixture to add strength and flexibility. In general though, the synthetic stuccoes are less heavy and hence, more susceptible to a hard blow. They are a one-coat stucco system unlike the three-coat traditional ones.
The most common one is EIFS or Exterior Insulation & Finish Systems. They are glued or mechanically attached to the substrate and usually composed of three layers. The innermost layer, mostly made up of polystyrene like material, is a foam insulation board. The second layer is a base coating attached to a fiberglass mesh and the final layer is a finish colored coat. It became popular because of its easy installation, low cost and better insulation properties. The only disadvantage is moisture absorption which causes water damage to the building.
A variety of stucco colors/paints are available. Colorants are inorganic pigments which can adapt with the high pH value of cement. They can be either natural like, Ochers and natural earths or artificial, such as man made Iron Oxides. Natural colorants remain unaffected to UV rays and are more pleasant to our eyes. But, the range of shades and the tinting strength is less when compared to manufactured colors. Man made colors, on the other hand, offer a wider range of shades such as dark blues and greens as well as various earthy tones like, yellow, brown and reds. They also possess excellent UV stability due to the presence of inorganic pigments.
The Life Expectancy of Stucco
Making the decision to do any large amount of work to your home is a little nerve wracking to say the least. You have to decide what you feel is the main priority and who is going to be best suited to do the work. As any do it yourselfer who has ended up with a less than well done home improvement project can tell you, you are often better off to let the professionals handle it. Take the exterior stucco contractors for example. If you have never dealt with finding and hiring such a well trained, specific contractor before, the task can seem overwhelming. With a little bit of knowledge about stucco and contractors in general, you won't have any trouble deciding on the right professional for your project.
As with any kind of home improvement help, with exterior stucco contractors, the first thing you want to do is get together a list of names. You can find this list from the phone book, online resources, or better yet, from someone you know personally who has worked with the contractors before. Try to find at least 3 different stucco contractors to talk to. They should be willing to come to your home, look the house over, and offer a free estimate. While you have the exterior stucco contractor's undivided attention, be sure to ask him or her any pressing questions that might be on your mind.
As any of the exterior stucco contractors can doubtless tell you, applying stucco is much like painting a picture. Every contractor has his or her own way of doing it. One contractor's texture and finish is nothing like the next ones. You can be sure you will be happy with the results by asking to see samples of every exterior stucco contractor's work you interview. Prices aren't likely to vary much, but your reference for their work certainly will. Once you have chosen your contractor, you can look forward to a brand new look for your home.