How do I Finish Stucco?

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  • Written By: John Kearns
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 23 February 2020
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There are a couple of things to consider when it comes time in a home construction or home improvement project to finish stucco, whether interior or exterior. Finishing stucco could refer to the final curing process involved in making the wall coating durable and long-lasting, or it could refer to texturing the cement to create a particular design. In either case, the process of finishing stucco is relatively easy, although it does take time.

Stucco, made of silica, lime, and cement, is popular as a finishing surface on both interior and exterior walls. It can be both functional — covering an entire wall — and decorative — used as a trim or accent, whether simple or elaborately detailed. Its popularity stems from its flexibility, relative ease of use, and durability. Its ability to accept a variety of colors is popular with homeowners looking for a home exterior color outside a basic color palette.

The process necessary to finish stucco is relatively easy, but it has multiple steps. After the first coat of stucco is applied, it must be allowed to dry for several days, though a periodic misting of water is necessary for the layer to set properly and avoid cracking. That coat of stucco is then scratched to help the finishing coat adhere, and the top coat is applied. It is to this top coat that color is added, if desired, before application. What happens at this point depends on how the homeowner wants his house to look when complete.


Some homeowners prefer to finish stucco with a smooth texture that can be accomplished by using a steel trowel to create an overall flat surface. Other homeowners want a bit more of a design element included, so they finish stucco with one of dozens of decorative textures. These include textures known as laces, dashes, and floats, to name a few. Some textures used to finish stucco require that the undercoat be completely covered by the top coat, while others need a bit of the undercoat showing through.

Such textures can be accomplished using a variety of tools, though many use only a simple trowel to apply and smooth the stucco as necessary. Others styles used to finish stucco require that one use a steel joint rod or comb to scrape the top coat. A float — a flat object that can be used to flatten stucco before a trowel is used — also can play a role in achieving the desired end result.

Once you have finished your stucco project by achieving the desired texture, there are still a few steps to finishing the overall job. Just as with the undercoat, the top coat requires several days of drying — with the occasional misting to ensure that the product sets properly — to fully cure. While it's easy to add the desired color to the top coat before applying it and paint is not necessary to protect the stucco finish, anyone wishing to paint their stucco is advised to wait several months after application before doing so. This gives any remaining moisture in the stucco time to escape and prevents that moisture from creating bubbles that will cause the paint to begin peeling.


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Post 1

The first coat in a stucco application is the one that should be "scratched" such that the following thicker brown coat will adhere later. The second coat is the "brown" coat which evens out the uneven surfaces. The final coat is the color coat.

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