How Do You Select the Best Stucco Repair Company in Enterprise?
So you’ve made the decision to have stucco applied to your home. Or, maybe you just need a repair. Either way, you’ll need to look up stucco contractors in Enterprise so that the project can be completed. You may be tempted to just open up a phone book and call the first contractor with a big ad, but that is not the way to go. Just about anyone can take out an ad, and having a larger one only means that they spent a little more money on advertising. Like any other skilled trade, learning how to apply stucco is not only an art but a science as well. Having the proper insurance, bonding, employees, portfolio of satisfied clients and ethical business practices should be the criteria you base hiring a contractor on. Doing an initial background check on a potential contractor now will save you copious amounts of work later.
First, you need to establish exactly what your project will entail. Then you need to contact a few contractors and ask them for a cost quote. It’s a good idea to let them know right away that you are going to be speaking to several contractors to see what their bids are. This can save you time when trying to negotiate a good price. Throw in some terminology about your specific project if you can. You will appear to be more knowledgeable than the average customer, so you will be less likely to be taken advantage of. Once you have gotten a few quotes, look for the median price. A good contractor will price fairly. Too low of a price may indicate an inexperienced contractor, while a high price may be a predatory contractor. Find the three or four contractors that are close to the median price and contact them for more information.
Qualified stucco contractors will have up to date insurance and licensing. This information will either be on hand, or in their office. Asking to view or make a copy of their paperwork is neither rude nor uncommon. If a contractor acts insulted or repeatedly gives excuses as to why the paperwork cannot be produced, you probably shouldn’t do business with them. Whether these are stalling tactics or they are just really unorganized, they are indicators of an unprofessional business person.
How to Fix a Stucco Wall
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.
What to Know About Exterior Stucco Contractors
Stucco has been use to protect and decorate exterior and interior walls and ceilings for many centuries. Stucco is available in dozens of textures, thousands of colors and is currently the cladding of choice for most new construction and remodel or restoration projects.
The two main categories of exterior stucco that encompass dozens of different systems are Hard Coat Stucco and EIFS (Exterior Insulation and Finish System). Hard Coat Stucco is the preferred system for residential or multifamily construction, and is being used increasingly for commercial projects since it is more economical. EIFS is more commonly used for commercial building projects, but is often also used for high-end custom homes.
Hard Coat Stucco is typically applied in 2-3 coats with a cementitious base coat. Two commonly used hard coat stucco systems are called One Coat Stucco and Three Coat Stucco. Traditional Three Coat Stucco consists of two coats of a cement base and one finish coat. One Coat Stucco is actually a two-coat process but instead of two base coats it consists of one cementitious base coat with one finish coat. In the last few decades One Coat Stucco has become much more popular simply because of the cost. The materials used and application process are virtually the same for both systems, other than the exception of One Coat Stucco taking fewer steps and less time. The design ability and performance between the two systems are also the same, although Three Coat Stucco is typically stronger and will crack less in most circumstances.
The finish coat application of both hard coat systems is the same. There are numerous finish options but they can be consolidated into a few categories which are: Integrally Colored Stucco, Painted Stucco, and Acrylic Finishes. Colored cement finishes or "colored stucco" was the popular choice over Three Coat Stucco for most of the 20th century. It is simply a mixture of cement, lime, sand and pigment. It is inexpensive and easy to apply, however, if the base coat cracks the finish is almost guaranteed to crack. Colored Stucco will stain easily, is hard to repair, and allows water to pass freely through it (which can be good or bad depending on what part of the country the system is applied within). It is usually applied by hand and can achieve virtually any finish imaginable.
Painted Stucco has been around almost as long, and is the majority of the finishes being used today. Painted Stucco is the same mixture of materials less the color, so it is applied the same and will achieve all the textures that integrally colored stucco will. The final step with Painted Stucco is the paint application. The paint, or as some like to call "coating", will look more vibrant and is easier to patch. Color options are vast and it is important that a good quality stucco paint is used. The most desired stucco finish today is Acrylic Stucco or Acrylic Finish. Some will call this system Synthetic Stucco, which is somewhat correct since it is a synthetic finish, however it is not a synthetic system.
Acrylic Finish is available in as many colors as a paint and has the same chemical make up as paint, but is a much thicker application. This does raise the cost of the overall system, but offers many benefits that the other two finishes do not. Acrylic Stucco will bridge most all hairline cracks and does not allow water to travel freely into the system, which is a huge benefit in freeze/thaw zones. Acrylic Stucco will keep it's look and typically will not require any maintenance for many years, whereas painted stucco must be repainted and repaired within a few years. Colored Stucco stains easily, will show every crack and is very difficult to repair.
EIFS is a full synthetic system or what most will call Synthetic Stucco. EIFS systems weigh much less than traditional stucco and are much more flexible. Although most EIFS adhesives and base coats are cement based, they are heavily polymer modified so they are considered synthetic. These type of systems have been used successfully for many decades but are much newer in the stucco world. Most all EIFS systems use EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) insulation board which is usually adhesively attached to the substrate and sometimes mechanically attached. The EPS adds insulation to the wall assembly, absorbs movement better than any other stucco cladding used today, and adds many design options.
The original or traditional EIFS systems all used a cement-based adhesive and/or mechanical fasteners for the EPS, fiberglass netting for reinforcement and to gauge base coat thickness, cement base coat, and an acrylic finish. These systems are known as Barrier EIFS. Since these systems are so watertight, they've had some problems such as not allowing water to escape after it had travelled into the system because of improper application and flashing. The industry quickly designed Drainage EIFS or Water Managed EIFS which some manufacturers had and promoted before these issues arrived. Drainage EIFS systems have been very popular in recent years and include added or altered components such as notched or channeled EPS, plastic trim, trowel or roller-applied waterproof coatings. These systems seem to have remedied the water drainage problem of years past. The finish coat options for EIFS are not as vast as they are for Hard Coat Stucco. Since EIFS is a "soft system" or synthetic system, cement finishes will not work unless they are acrylic or polymer modified.
Most EIFS manufacturers have their recommended systems and will not warranty their products if deviated from the original specifications. Almost every final coat for EIFS consists of an acrylic emulsion and marble or silica sand finish that is hand-troweled over the base coat. Acrylic finish is integrally colored and very flexible. There are a few standard textures that acrylic finishes provide, including Smooth Finish, Sand Finish, and Rilled or Swirl Finish. These finishes, which are expensive, are usually applied in one coat at a thickness of 5/32" or less. Many different textures are possible by multilayering an acrylic finish.