What are the Basics of Stucco Application?

M.R. Anglin

Some of the basic steps of stucco application include preparing the surface properly, scratching the scratch coat, and correctly curing the stucco. Each of these steps is essential if the stucco is going to be strong and resistant. If the surface is not properly prepared, the stucco may succumb to weather or dampness. If the scratch coat is not scratched, the next stucco coat may not adhere correctly. Finally, if the stucco is not cured in the proper manner, it could become brittle.

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

Curing is a stucco application process that can last several days. It is usually recommended that the each of the two or three layers of stucco cure for 36 hours or more. During this time, the layer being cured will have to be misted with water periodically in order to keep it moist. Curing in this manner allows the stucco to properly harden without getting too dry. If the stucco becomes too dry while it cures, it can become brittle.

Traditional stucco is porous and should be avoided in wet climates, but paint can help the material last longer in rainy weather.
Traditional stucco is porous and should be avoided in wet climates, but paint can help the material last longer in rainy weather.

Another important aspect to stucco application is the scratching of the scratch coat. In this process, a tool is used to rake 1/8-inch (about 3.17-millimeter) lines across the stucco when it has partially dried to the proper consistency. A plasterer’s rake or a homemade raking tool can be used for this purpose. Scratching the scratch coat during stucco application helps the next layer to adhere and cure properly. After the coat is scratched, it is allowed to cure just like any other stucco layer.

Preparing the surface is one of the most important aspects of stucco application. The amount of work a person has to do in preparing the desired surface depends on the type of surface he has. A cement or brick surface may be the easiest to prepare. All a person may have to do is make sure the surface is clean and, for interior walls, has no significant cracks. A bonding agent may then have to be put on, and once it dries, stucco application may commence.

Wood, however, requires more work before stucco application can commence. If a person wants to apply stucco over wood, he needs to first adhere roofing felt or building paper over the surface. Next, he will usually need to install metal netting on the wall. The stucco can then be applied over the netting. Under no circumstances should stucco be applied over fiberboard sheathing or foam installation because these materials will not be strong enough to keep the finished stucco from being damaged when impacted.

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Discussion Comments


Where did you get your information about install of stucco over fiber board?


What about stucco over marble? Doable? What surface prep is required? -Carin

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