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.
How to Repair Stucco
The stucco method of repair work is an absolute must for people in the maintenance field. Holes in the wall just seem to happen. Cracks in plaster ceilings can be a nightmare to repair. Any one who has owned an apartment building know the value of someone with the ability make these repairs.
When you do have a hole in a wall or ceiling, first thing is to back the hole with something so the stucco doesn't fall through. Holes up to the size of what a doorknob might make, can be repaired in this way. After filling the hole with backing, use Sheetrock compound or plaster to fill the hole even or a little above the surface of the wall. A 6 inch putty knife is great to start with.
Next apply Sheetrock tape over the hole and past the edge at least several inches. Use the putty knife to push the tape into the wet mud. Apply a second coat of compound or plaster over the tape. Now we wait. A household fan can be used to help speed the drying time.
Your repair is dry when it turns completely white, do not try to sand or make it any smoother while it's drying. This will only make a mess you'll have to sand out later. You'll have plenty of time to make it right on the next coat.
Apply another coat of your product over the first. This time use a ten inch putty knife and expand the layer you put on past the edge of the previous coat. First pull the knife across the repair centered. Next pass, you'll stay half on and half off your patch putting slightly more pressure on the half off, this will smooth the edge. Then repeat the half on half off method on the other half, making sure to always put more pressure on the half that's off.
If you have a badly cracked ceiling, this type of repair can be used to skim coat a small area or an entire ceiling. Repairs to cracks can be made in the same way as we fixed the hole. A vinyl adhesive caulking, can take the place of our newspaper. This will help to keep the cracks from reappearing. Tape is also not necessary with this method.
If you have loose plaster. Ceiling washers as their called are available at most hardware stores as well as building supply houses. These are a large beveled fender washer with a hole in the center. Using a Sheetrock screw they can pull loose plaster back to their lathes. These small beauties can turn a rip out job into a repair job, saving thousands of dollars.
After caulking your cracks, run the six inch knife across them with compound, or plaster. Apply thin coats and make sure to let them dry thoroughly between coats. Keep using a larger knife with each coat. The feathering technique explained before runs true here. Have fun with it. Remember one very important thing, when you stucco the next coat can fix anything.