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Learn about Stucco


Stucco is an exterior plaster, which was traditionally made with lime, sand, water and sometimes horse hair or other fibres. Modern stucco typically contains Portland cement, sand, and water. Acrylic stucco (sometimes called synthetic stucco) is sometimes used to provide a crack resistant finish over cement plasters. It can be directly applied to masonry or concrete walls and to wood-framed walls over metal lath. Pigments can be added to the mixture to colour your walls.

Check to see if the stucco is lime-based, cement-based, or synthetic. If it is synthetic, note that it won't breathe out water vapor, so ensure that there is a drainage plane.

Traditional lime-based stucco is made from natural materials and has lower embodied energy than cement based stuccos. Stucco doesn't need to be painted, saving on paint, although it will need periodic repair of cracks. Both traditional and cement-based stucco plasters breathe, so that walls can take on moisture and dry out, creating a rot-resistant cladding. Synthetic stucco, however, does not breathe and requires the installation of a drainage plain in the wall.

The word "stucco" has travelled around. Originally the German word "Stukki", it travelled to Italy and became "stucco", which was then adopted straight into English with the Italian spelling unchanged. When it went back to German it became "Stuck", which now means "a piece" (of something).