The Many Benefits Of Stucco
If your home improvement project involves stucco in Bard, you will want to be sure you find the right contractor for the job. It is always important to hire good contractors, but it is especially important when they will be doing work such as stucco installation, which is not as common as other contracting duties. You need to work with a people who know how do to the job properly, so you can be sure it will get done right the first time.
When you get the bids, make sure to ask if the work will be guaranteed once it is completed. A quality stucco contractor will stand firmly behind their work, so don’t hesitate to ask this question. If the labor and material are not covered by some form of guarantee, you should quickly move on to the next bid. There are plenty of contractors out there who are willing to stand behind their work, so there is no reason to work with one who isn’t.
Stucco can be messy business. Make sure there is a plan in place to protect the rest of your property from the mess that can be made when stucco is put in. You don’t want to be left with a huge cleanup project after your contractor has left the job site, so ask specific questions as to how they will keep the rest of your property as clean as possible.
Hiring a stucco contractor doesn’t need to be a long and drawn out process, as long as you know what you are looking for from the start. Use the points above to guide your search, and only hire a contractor once you are fully satisfied that they are the perfect selection for the work that you need completed.
Addressing Stucco Failure
When fall inevitably comes each year, home owners who have been "thinking about" renovating their home with stucco suddenly realize they're running out of time, and give their contractor(s) a call. All of them. The resulting mayhem is an influx of home owners requesting a contractor do their home before winter so that they can enjoy their new beautiful home's look and increased energy efficiency. The contractors who make most of their money during the summer, begin to quicken the pace to accommodate this work before winter, often at the expense of quality. Each stucco construction project is not given it's due diligence, and critical portions of work are ignored such as contracts, weather barriers, proper surface leveling, warranties. Even not so "critical" but finishing aspects such as proper moulding selection is often ignored.
The average stucco construction renovation will take about 3 weeks, with a 2 week lead time. This can all be expedited with an experienced project manager, but most home owners opt to do the managing themselves, sometimes naively. With 5 full weeks required from the time you SCHEDULE the contractor, you really need to start looking for prices about 7 weeks in advance. Generally, the stucco construction season (for Toronto) will end towards the end of October. This means that if you're not looking at the beginning of September, you need to exercise a degree of caution about getting your project done before temperatures drop below acceptable levels. EIFS manufacturer guidelines state:
Do not proceed with application of base coat and/or finish coat at ambient air temperatures below 5C (41F)
Applying the material in these temperatures may cause it not to cure properly, resulting in improper adherence to the substrate, and subsequent delamination - in English, your walls could fall off. The weather can't be blamed for all problems though, and you do need to pay attention to make sure your contractor is doing all the layers properly. No weather barrier means that water can get onto your substrate. Adhesive not being done in vertical channels means that water can become trapped against the substrate. Not meshing styrofoam fully can mean cracks developing, and water infiltrating your walls. Not mixing the base coat in the proper ratios or applying it too thin can result in a weak and easily damaged wall surface. Not spending enough time "floating" (troweling) the finish coat can result in discrepancies in the texture, which really just looks awful. Having a third party project manager or home inspector come once or twice a week to inspect the quality of work for a few hundred dollars is very inexpensive compared to having to rip the stucco off your walls and redo it in 5 years.
Aside from application problems, you want to ensure you give yourself enough time to really think about what you want for this project. Too many home owners take the first, cheapest guy they find and go ahead without a contract, resulting in them not knowing exactly what is "included", and a lot of "extras". Doing your due diligence includes researching items you need included with your project, such as flashing, replacing old substrate, whether a weather barrier is required or not, in what order to proceed with renovations... the list goes on. In short, don't go into a project without being fairly confident you know you have the details worked out, and use a contract to clarify those details.
Even moldings are sometimes not given their due consideration. Proper molding selection will help manage water runoff, further protecting your walls. They can direct water away from window openings - which tend to be the most susceptible to water damage, and kick water off the walls - preventing the black or white water streaks you often see below window sills. Using a wall band at the base of a high traffic wall can protect your wall from being hit by snow shovels, moving furniture and even cars. The same protective quality can be said of quoins or pilasters on the corners of your wall.
When renovating your home, it's important to focus on more than just the initial cost of stucco construction. You need to do your research to ensure you don't get "ripped off", and you need think about future maintenance. If you can't realistically put in the time to make sure you have everything included, get multiple estimates, have a contract made, and think about how to reduce future maintenance costs, you are better off waiting until spring to have your project completed. You will lose 1 winter of lowered heating costs, but prevent thousands of dollars in possible damage.
How to Apply Exterior Stucco
Stucco is a cement-based siding product that is extremely popular around the country. Compared to other siding materials, it fairly easy to maintain and repair. This article discusses how to repair cracks and gouges, and painting stucco. Traditional stucco is a mixture of Portland cement, lime, sand, and water. It is usually about 3/4 inch thick, very porous, and holds on to paint very well. Color can also be mixed into the finishing coat of stucco, eliminating the need to paint.
Stucco is tough, but brittle and can sometimes crack as a house shifts or settles. Hairline cracks should not be repaired, so you do not have to try to repair every crack. If you cannot get your fingernail into the crack, paint will usually fill it. For cracks up to 1/4 inch wide, you can repair them with a high-quality, exterior grade, acrylic latex caulk.
Clean loose debris out of the crack using a V-shaped object to get down in the crack. Then you can brush it, or use a vacuum cleaner. Caulk the crack with a paintable silicone caulk and smooth it out with your finger. Using your finger makes it easier to exactly match the existing texture. Use the 50-year kind of caulk for best results.
Wipe off excess caulking with a damp sponge in all directions to clean the rough texture. Here is a trick. Put some fine texturing sand in the palm of your hand and blow the sand to scatter it onto the wet caulk. This will roughen up the surface making it less noticeable.
Repairing wider cracks and gouges
For this job, you need to use a stucco patching compound. In order for the material to hold properly, exactly the right amount of water must be added. Follow the manufacturer's directions carefully. Thoroughly clean the crack or gouge as you did for small cracks. Use a putty knife or trowel to fill the area with a latex patching product. Thin the patch compound to the consistency of something like pancake batter. Dab a paintbrush into the wet material and holding one hand between the paintbrush and the wall, hit the brush handle against your hand splattering the material onto the repair area. This technique will match the texture of the surrounding stucco. You can smooth it out with a putty knife or trowel to the texture you want after the compound hardens a little bit.
For smaller jobs, use a roller. Use an airless sprayer for larger jobs. For best results, do not use a paintbrush for stucco other than to add texture. Spray the paint onto the surface and then use a 3/4 inch to 1 inch deep nap roller to work the paint into the surface for uniform texture. It usually requires two coats to cover stucco sufficiently because stucco is so porous. It may also require a second coat to cover small cracks and your repairs.