Stucco Repair Basics
Stucco Repair Philadelphia is a great way to address cosmetic damage and prevent moisture penetration, which can lead to mold and wood rot. Remediation is a more involved and expensive process that addresses the underlying issues that cause stucco to degrade.
Examine cracks and holes to determine the extent of the damage. Touch the surface to see if it feels spongey, and listen for hollow sounds—weak areas will sound hollow, while solid sections will make a firm sound.
Hairline cracks in stucco are a normal part of home maintenance and can be repaired very easily by a do-it-yourselfer. These cracks are a result of the contraction and expansion of the concrete block or wood frame that the plaster is applied to. They typically show up on the corners and edges of your home. During the day, your stucco will expand, and these small cracks in it will contract and pull together. If you don’t fill them in, they can grow and become more visible. It’s recommended to address these cracks every year or two for regular home maintenance.
It’s very important not to fill these cracks in the vee itself but to only fill the upper portion. If you do fill it in the vee, it will just act as a wedge and cause more cracking elsewhere in the wall.
Another common method of addressing these small cracks is to paint them. A water-based textured stucco paint called Plascon Micatex is great for this and can be colored to match your existing walls.
If the cracks are wider than a quarter inch, it is best to hire a professional for this type of repair. A professional can also assess the problem and determine the cause of the cracks to prevent them from occurring in the future. This could include reinforcing the area or adding expansion joints and weeping screeds. They can also color-match the new stucco and blend it into your existing walls. This will give your home a clean and finished appearance. It may be recommended to repaint the entire wall to ensure that all colors match properly.
Stucco is one of the most durable wall surfaces available, but over time, it can develop cracks and holes. Whether caused by settling, impact damage, or a lack of maintenance and stucco repair, these holes can compromise your home’s appearance and cause water seepage problems. Fortunately, large cracks and holes can be repaired using the same techniques as other types of exterior wall finishes.
Inspect your stucco regularly to spot problems before they become holes. If you notice small, hairline cracks in the stucco that aren’t progressing, a quick application of paintable acrylic caulking may be enough to seal them. Larger fissures can be patched with a premixed patch compound, which is easy to use and blends into the existing stucco.
Larger holes, such as those caused by bolts or other penetrations, are more serious and need to be addressed by a professional. First, remove the loose and crumbling parts of the damaged stucco with a cold chisel and ballpeen hammer, blowing out any dust. It’s also a good idea to remove any undamaged sections of stucco around the hole to ensure that you’re working with a solid surface.
Once the area is clean, prepare it for the patching process by stapling new wire mesh over any uncovered areas. Then spray the repaired area with water to dampen it. Apply the first coat of stucco to within 1/8 inch of the surface with a mason’s trowel or putty knife (stucco should ooze from behind the mesh). Smooth the second layer of stucco and texture as desired. Allow both layers to cure for two days.
For the smaller holes, it’s much easier to use a premixed stucco patching compound because of its consistent composition. Mix the compound as per the manufacturer’s instructions, and then apply it with a putty knife. Then spread a final layer of compound atop the hole, again texturing it to match the surrounding wall. Once both of these coats have cured, paint the patch as desired.
Leaks in stucco can do serious damage to your home or business. When water seeps into the walls, it can rot wood, soak insulation, and cause mold.
Leaking stucco isn’t always visible as cracks in the wall surface, but it can be very problematic. Usually it happens where the stucco meets other materials like concrete, ground, or a roof. For instance, when a deck is attached to the stucco and there is no flashing, it can eventually leak through the deck to the underlying wall. Another common area is where a wood-framed chimney sits on top of a stucco wall and no flashing has been installed. This can also leak into the wall cavity, causing problems.
Some areas that are commonly overlooked by homeowners are leaks around window or door sills or light fixtures. When these areas are ignored, it can lead to expensive repairs in the future. We recommend that homeowners do a thorough walk around their stucco at least twice a year and carefully examine it for any signs of moisture infiltration.
Look for cracks that may be just starting (usually small and confined to the corners of your house), as well as any areas that are damp or discolored. Taking the time to do this now can save you from an expensive, wall-opening repair in the future.
You can use a putty knife or scratch awl to clean the cracks and apply a premixed stucco patching product. You can buy these products at a stucco supply store, or they can be mixed with your own mortar at home.
It is important to remember that the most common cause of water intrusion behind your stucco is an underlying problem such as a leaking roof or air conditioning unit. Fixing the underlying problem will stop water from getting into the stucco and rotting the sheathing underneath. It is a good idea to have a professional inspect the underlying sheathing to make sure it is in good condition before making any repairs to the stucco. If left unchecked, rotting sheathing will create an excellent breeding ground for mold and can actually threaten the integrity of the entire structure.
Waterproofing is one of the most important aspects of stucco repair. While any building material needs waterproofing, it is particularly important for stucco, which can be very porous if not properly sealed. If moisture is not kept out, it can cause rotting and damage to the materials underneath.
Stucco is very good at standing up to the elements, but like any other material, it will deteriorate over time and eventually be penetrated by water if it’s consistently exposed. You should look for signs of water intrusion, such as damp-looking walls, dark spots that don’t go away, and windows with caulking gaps or cracks.
Moisture penetration is often caused by improper flashing. This is where a metal sheet is placed between the sheathing and the stucco to stop moisture from leaking into the wall cavity. However, this is not a foolproof system because flashing can be installed incorrectly. For example, if the metal is nailed to the sheathing instead of being adhered to it with an adhesive, water will seep between the layers.
Another common problem with flashing is that it isn’t correctly positioned over the joints. When a piece of flashing isn’t properly aligned, it can create an open space where water will seep in and eventually weaken the sheathing and rot the underlying wood lath.
When you have a professional perform your stucco repair, they will likely use a silicone sealant to protect your home from moisture. This is an excellent option, but be careful that the product you choose is specifically designed for your type of stucco. You may also want to have your contractor apply a waterproof barrier to your walls once every 4-5 years as an additional layer of protection.
Homeowners insurance usually covers water damage, but the exact coverage will depend on the policy and the cause of the damage. For example, rain and flood damage are not typically covered, but interior water damage that is a result of a leaking washing machine or kitchen sink may be. To find out more about what your policy covers, talk to your insurance agent.