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.
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
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. 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.
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 incorrectly.
- 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 paper.
- 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
- Interior moisture is permeating into
- 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
- The staples that stick through the sheathing
are collecting frost or condensation and dripping within the
- The high number of staples used to fasten
the lath creates many penetrations that could both leak and
- The staples were driven into the lath
with excessive force causing the lath to cut the paper creating
- Wind driven water is getting on the
wall through the soffit vents and running down the wall between
the sheathing and the paper.
- 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
- 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?
are a number of steps that can be taken or places to call for
- 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
- Your State Building Codes
and Standards Division may be helpful in resolving homeowners
- Your insurance company may participate
in the cost of stucco repairs.
- Private home inspectors may help identify
- Licensed Contractors can make necessary
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.
layer of type 15 felt was the most common. Less than 10
percent used 2 layers of type 15 felt. Grade D paper was
layers grade D felt are required by the State Building
windows were considered to be self-flashed.
is required over all windows and doors.
was installed over the window flanges.
is required to be under the sides and bottom window flange.
was not sealed at the windows.
must be sealed at the windows with tape or caulk.
stopped at the soffit line.
is required to the top of the wall.
flashing was mostly an unknown term.
flashing is required at wall intersections where the roof
line does not extend past the wall.
screeds were not used.
screeds are required.
for additional information