How do I Choose the Best Stucco Material?

Janis Bennett

When choosing stucco material, consider the type of building, the weather and your budget. There are several types of stucco available, including traditional stucco, acrylic stucco, cement stucco, synthetic stucco and variations of each of these. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages, so it is best to learn about them all in order to choose the best stucco siding.

Stucco is applied with a trowel.
Stucco is applied with a trowel.

Traditional stucco material is a mixture of lime, water and cement, and it is very common on home exteriors because it is virtually maintenance-free. Traditional stucco siding is created by covering the exterior wooden walls with tar paper, then a wire mesh, and finally three coats of stucco. It is easily maintained by simply filling in cracks with more stucco or repairing only what needs to be fixed. Traditional stucco can be applied to either flat or curved surfaces.

A traditional stucco exterior is virtually maintainance free.
A traditional stucco exterior is virtually maintainance free.

If you are concerned about cost, traditional stucco might be your best choice because it is less expensive than most other stucco materials. Traditional stucco has some drawbacks, though. For example, it is porous and can handle some moisture, but it does not hold up well in very wet climates, because it will soften and crumble.

Acrylic stucco material is designed for flexibility, breathability and toughness, with no known carcinogens and no volatile organic compounds. It is not affected by moisture, and it will not peel or crack, making this material suitable for all weather conditions. Just like traditional stucco, acrylic stucco can be colored and textured for added beauty and it can be placed on both curved and flat surfaces, but it is more expensive. If weather is a concern and you have enough money in your budget, acrylic stucco might be the best choice for you.

Synthetic stucco material is also called an exterior insulation and finish system (EIFS), and it is a polymer-based laminate that is applied in two coats over a rigid insulation board secured to a wall. Synthetic stucco is expensive and has a poor performance reputation. Synthetic stucco can be applied only to flat surfaces. It also is more difficult to fix destroyed areas because the insulation board underneath it must be replaced. Synthetic stucco material is used more on industrial buildings than on houses, so it might not be the best choice for you.

Cement stucco is similar to traditional stucco but can be applied directly to bricks or existing cement. A popular use for cement stucco is for application around the foundation of a home or building to make the foundation more appealing and practically maintenance-free. Older homes might have had foundation repairs that show age or were done with a completely different material than the older foundation, such as concrete patches over brick. To make the foundation uniform, cement stucco can be applied over the entire surface. If you need a stucco material to cove a brick or cement surface, cement stucco might be the best choice.

Traditional stucco is porous and should be avoided in wet climates.
Traditional stucco is porous and should be avoided in wet climates.

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