If your present siding has lost its youthful lustre, stucco siding is a durable and cost-effective option that looks great and performs well. Best of all, it is durable enough to last for generations. If you have not looked at stucco as a siding option, there is more to it than meets the eye. Here are some facts about stucco siding that make it well-worth consideration.
Traditional stucco and synthetic stucco
The two types of stucco are traditional stucco and synthetic stucco.
- Traditional stucco is a mortar mixture made from aggregates, binding agents, and water. Today's recipes typically include silica sand, Portland cement, lime, and water. Some formulas add fibers and acrylics to the mix to improve strength and flexibility. The mixture is then applied over a wire mesh lathe. While most traditional stucco is applied in three coats, a modern variation - one-coat stucco - only requires a single application.
- Several types of synthetic stucco have been developed over the years to provide the look of stucco in an easier to install product. The most common recent synthetic stucco is the Exterior Insulation and Finish System (EIFS). This product is made of polystyrene panels, a polymer and cement base coat, and a finish coat for texture. Many early EIFS products could trap moisture between the layers, which often led to structural problems. This issue has been eliminated by including drainage features into the installation to avoid moisture build up.
Stucco manufacturers and costs
The companies that make traditional and one-coat stucco include Master Wall, LaHabra Stucco, and Sto Corp. The cost of traditional three-coat stucco varies from about $4.50 to $10.00 per square foot for installation. The cost of one-coat stucco is very similar in most cases since the slightly higher cost of the material is offset by the quicker installation. Traditional stucco can last 50 years or more, so when you average cost over time, you realize how much of a bargain stucco really is.
Some of the many EIFS manufacturers include LaHabra, Sto Corp, and Masterwall. The cost of a modern EIFS system with proper drainage typically runs between $7.50 to $10.00 a square foot. Since EIFS is a newer technology its exact expected lifespan is not yet known.
Colors and styles
While white is the traditional stucco color, other colors are available. The color can be added during the manufacturing process or the stucco can be painted after installation. Some popular color choices replicate colors found in nature. These include beige or brown earth tones, yellow or red sun tones, and blue or green water tones. Stucco can be applied in either coarse or fine textures. To create coarse textured stucco, aggregates such as pebbles, small stones, or coarse sand are added to the mixture. In contrast, fine texture stucco uses finer grained ingredients and is usually applied with smoother strokes for a more refined appearance.
The energy efficiency of stucco
Traditional stucco has a R-value of about 0.20 per inch. This means that stucco provides 20 percent of the insulation value of one inch of wood. Since the typical layer of stucco is usually less then an inch you can see that additional thermal barriers are needed to provide effective insulation. In contrast, since EIFS uses insulation board as part of the product, its initial R-value can range from 4 to 5.6. While this means that EIFS reduces heat transfer better then bare stucco, you should remember to add up the total insulating value for all the materials used in the wall when comparing the R-value of stucco to the R-value of EIFS.
How to get started
You can find more information on traditional stucco siding, one-coat stucco, or EIFS from your local contractors. You can also fill out the form on this page to receive recommendations of reliable contractors in your area.