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What is Cement Stucco?

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  • Written By: Christian Petersen
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 16 November 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Cement stucco is a versatile wall covering made from portland cement. Often called simply "stucco," cement stucco has been used for interior and exterior applications for centuries. It is durable, water-resistant, and suitable for any climate. Cement stucco is nearly infinitely customizable by changing the size of the particles of aggregate and adding pigments to the base.

Stucco is known by a variety of names, including portland cement plaster, portland cement stucco, cement stucco, and plaster stucco. It is very popular as a wall covering both for interior and exterior walls as it is easily applied to curved and flat surfaces. It has a low cost, being less expensive than many other wall coverings, especially for exterior surfaces.

This building material is very hard, even when applied in the standard 0.5 inch (15 mm) thickness for concrete or masonry exteriors. Cement stucco is sometimes applied to exterior surfaces over a light-weight framework of metal lath. When applied in this fashion, it is usually applied in a slightly thicker coat; 0.875 inch (26 mm) is the standard. This hardness provides protection against pests like insects or woodpeckers and accidental damage from lawn care equipment like grass trimmers.

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Cement stucco is used in all climates; it is suitable for northern climes, desert-like climates, and even very humid climates like in the southern United States or tropical areas. It withstands weather well, and has a high durability, outlasting many other types of exterior wall coverings like traditional wood sidings, wooden shakes and even vinyl. It is waterproof but breathes, allowing water vapor to escape.

Stucco can be customized according to the tastes of the homeowner. Any number of textures may be achieved by adding aggregate of different sizes or textures to the mix. Various tools can give the finished surface any number of interesting textures as well; surfaces resembling traditional masonry or even wood are possible. Any number of colors are also possible. Various powdered pigments can be added to the mix to yield almost any shade desired.

Synthetic stucco materials have been developed in recent years. These materials, which are usually polymer-based, are lighter and thinner than traditional cement stucco. They also provide the same potential for nearly infinite color choices. Synthetic stucco is not as durable as traditional stucco; the layers are much thinner and not as hard. Synthetic stucco is also not permeable to water vapor, and problems with rot may arise if water gets trapped behind the covering.

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