Q. What if my stucco is painted?
reason most homeowners paint their stucco is because the cost
of restucco is more than just hiring a painter to paint over the
existing stucco. Although seemingly less expensive up front,
the misconception that painting is cheaper couldn't be more wrong.
Here's why...Once, usually within 2 to 3 years, the paint starts
decaying, chaulking and peeling, the homeowner calls us and says,
"My stucco looks like it needs to be freshened up.
Can I get an estimate?" Of course we set an appointment
to look at the home to discover that it has been painted.
Bad news for your checkbook. Now we have to hire a sandblasting
firm to remove the existing paint. Why? Because it
is a layer that would prohibit proper bonding of a new stucco
coat. We provide a product that lasts decades, far longer
than any paint job.
Q. What is white-wash?
A. Getting your home "white-washed"
is similar to getting your home painted. Typically when
stucco is applied to an existing home there is a two-part process,
a wash coat, and a texture coat. The problems that arise
with only white-washing your home are the shortened life of the
job, and the cost of future stucco repair and finishing.
The reason stucco lasts so long is that the cement is also mixed
with sand. Silica sand resists wear and weather for years,
where a "white-wash" is just watery white cement brushed
over the wall. This begins to chalk and wear within one
year. To make things worse, just like painted stucco, it
must be sandblasted off when a restucco is desired. A traditional
stucco coating would consist of this same white-wash coat, however,
over that another coat is applied consisting of a cement mixture
including twice as much sand, thus creating strength and resistance
to aging and weather. The white cement may also be colored
for a pleasing look.
Q. What is Kickout Flashing?
A. A critical location
where moisture entry can do considerable damage is where a lower
roof cornice stops in the middle of a stucco wall. Kick-outs
should be fabricated with watertight seems and be big and broad
enough to handle water run-off from a variety of roof pitches.
Another critical element is the use of gutters to evacuate the
water away from these sensitive locations. There are several
local materials suppliers that now offer these kick-outs in both
left and right versions. Installing the kick-out after the
installation of the shingles is a very difficult procedure for
the lather or stucco contractor to perform. For this reason
it should be coordinated so that the kick-out is installed by
the roofer as the shingles are being laid up. This "kick-out"
flashing will help keep water from running down the new stucco
wall and add life to the original appearance of your stucco.
What are the signs to look for to determine if my home has a problem?
A. On the interior, if the bottoms of
windows are discolored or the base trim is warped or carpet is
wet, these are indications of a leak. If there is a moldy smell
in the house, there may be leaks into the wall cavities that may
not show other signs of leakage. On the exterior, if there are
brown streaks below the corners of windows or where window units
are joined, it is likely there is a leak at that location. Intersections
of walls and roofs are also susceptible to leaks, which will be
indicated by brown streaks.
What causes the problems?
A. Window leaks are the cause of the majority
of the damage but the causes may be many, including:
- The paper around windows and other openings was installed
- Head flashing was not used on windows (windows with flanges
were thought to be self-flashed).
- One layer of paper was used. Water may be leaking through
- The windows themselves leak.
- Kickout flashing was not installed at the wall/roof intersections
where the roof line does not extend below the wall.
- The deck ledger board was not flashed.
- Moisture from rain during construction or wet building materials
remain in the wall (construction moisture).
- Interior moisture is permeating into the wall.
- Lack of drying capacity. All walls will likely leak sometime
during their life. In addition condensation and construction
moisture will be in the walls. Stucco walls are very tight and
cannot withstand much moisture without creating mold and rot.
- Solar drive may be pushing moisture from a wet stucco wall
into the wall cavity.
- Type 15 felt may be acting as a vapor retarder trapping moisture
in the wall.
- Oriented strand board (OSB) sheathing has a low perm rating
and it may be acting as a vapor retarder creating a double vapor
retarder situation. In addition OSB absorbs and retains moisture
making it vulnerable to mold and rot.
- The staples that stick through the sheathing are collecting
frost or condensation and dripping within the wall cavity.
- The high number of staples used to fasten the lath creates
many penetrations that could both leak and condense moisture.
- The staples were driven into the lath with excessive force
causing the lath to cut the paper creating a leak.
- Wind driven water is getting on the wall through the soffit
vents and running down the wall between the sheathing and the
- Weep screeds were not used at the bottom of the stucco. This
may prevent trapped water from draining.
- Stucco was installed below ground. This may prevent trapped
water from draining or may wick water up to the framing. In
addition, when stucco is applied below grade there is no clear
definition of where grade should be and often the grade is placed
against the wood framing causing a guaranteed rot situation.
- Stucco is installed directly on the foundation without paper
or a weep screed. This prevents trapped water from draining.
- Landscape trees or bushes that contact the stucco create an
area that introduces and holds moisture in the stucco. The moisture
permeates into the wall.
What should be done if there are signs of leaks on our house?
A. There are a number of steps
that can be taken or places to call for help.
- The contractor shall warranty the house for one year against
defects and ten years against structural defects. Some builders
may provide additional warranties.
- The State Commerce Department, may provide assistance with
contractors or provide information on the availability of the
state builder's recovery fund.
- Your State Building Codes and Standards Division may be helpful
in resolving homeowners stucco problems.
- Your insurance company may participate in the cost of stucco
- Private home inspectors may help identify problems.
- Licensed Contractors can make necessary stucco repairs.
I own a stucco home, and I don't see any symptoms of leaks right
now. Is there any preventative action I can take that will keep
problems from occurring?
A. Most of the problems we have
seen are caused from leaks around windows. Caulking the sides
and bottom of the window will help prevent water infiltration.
There are different schools of thought on caulking the top of
the windows. One is to caulk the top of the window to prevent
water from getting in and the other is to not caulk the top so
water that is behind the stucco but on the tarpaper can get out.
A moderate position is to caulk the top of the window but leave
some small openings in the caulk to let any water that may be
on the tarpaper out. Additional openings and penetrations such
as doors and vents should also be caulked.
Are there tests that can be done to determine if there is a moisture
problem, even if there are no symptoms right now?
A. Yes, there are a variety of
tests that private inspectors may use. They range from passive
tests that use instruments to take relative moisture readings
in non-conductive solid materials such as wood and masonry, to
intrusive tests where openings are made to allow a probe inside
the wall cavity to measure moisture. These tests may be helpful
in providing information that may indicate whether there is a
moisture problem. The only way to be certain, however, is to remove
either the sheet rock on the interior or the stucco on the exterior
of the home.
If there is a problem with the stucco on my home, what will be
required to correct it?
A. A building permit is required
for stucco repairs. The building code requires that all wood with
mold or rot be removed and repaired. Areas that do not show signs
of leaks, mold, rot or deterioration may remain.
One layer of type 15 felt was the most common. Less than
10 percent used 2 layers of type 15 felt. Grade D paper
was not available.
Two layers grade D felt are required by the State Building
Flanged windows were considered to be self-flashed.
Flashing is required over all windows and doors.
Paper was installed over the window flanges.
Paper is required to be under the sides and bottom window
Paper was not sealed at the windows.
Paper must be sealed at the windows with tape or caulk.
Paper stopped at the soffit line.
Paper is required to the top of the wall.
Kickout flashing was mostly an unknown term.
Kickout flashing is required at wall intersections where
the roof line does not extend past the wall.
Weep screeds were not used.
Weep screeds are required.