Stucco is a durable, low-maintenance way to enhance the beauty, curb appeal and value of your home. However, there are a number of environmental and craftsmanship-related factors which can cause your stucco to fail, and it’s important for a homeowner to understand how and why it does.
Made from cement, sand, and lime, stucco is a porous material which is prone to water retention, unlike its vinyl or fiber siding counterparts. Because it retains moisture, stucco is prone to cracking and can eventually lead to big problems like breakage, paint failure, wood rot, mold growth, and swollen drywall.
Although a number of factors can contribute to cracking —from how the cement component is mixed to temperature swings to poor workmanship on the installation — the root of most stucco problems is a failure to implement the systems necessary to protect against moisture penetration. Weather and moisture affect all homes differently, but an invasive moisture test can help identify problem areas depending on the age and style of your home. The bottom line is, moisture can ruin stucco if it’s not installed properly.
When it comes to installing stucco, it’s imperative to engage the services of a contractor experienced and well versed in methods of waterproofing and water management so your home and its exterior are properly protected against a host of issues that can arise as a result of moisture problems.
Let’s take a look at some of the top 5 most common reasons stucco can fail.
#1 Improper Door or Window Sill Installation
If a door or window is incorrectly or poorly installed, water will not run off the property effectively which can create problems. In the case of windows, if a stucco installer hasn’t correctly installed water-resistant paper underneath the window, water can get trapped and can lead to mold and structural deterioration.
When there’s not an effective barrier between your stucco work and moisture, you can expect cracking and eventual decay. In fact, improper window installation may be the number one reason why stucco and stonework fail.
#2 Improper Flashing Installation
If kick out flashing diverters —one-piece molded plastic or metal pieces designed to properly direct water flow — are missing or improperly installed, you can expect to see cracking and deterioration in your stone and stucco work.
A stucco contractor must carefully install flashers between vertical walls and roof ends, near fascia boards where gutters are eventually placed. Additionally, an experienced stucco contractor can inspect for problems and notify a roofing contractor if adequate flashing has not been installed to protect a home’s chimney from rain and weather damage.
It is the stucco contractor’s job to install flashers in the exterior corners of a chimney’s shoulders or hips (or to make sure it is protected by a roof feature), and to install a kick out flashing diverter at the lowest interior corner of this structure.
#3 Improper Sealing of Vents, Electric Outlets, and Other Moisture Entry Points
As is the case with window frames, improperly installed dryer vents, light fixtures, piping, and electric outlets provide an opportunity for moisture to penetrate, which can cause stucco failure and other structural problems. These openings should seal from the inside out and have proper water management systems surrounding them.
#4. Improper Deck Installation
An experienced deck contractor should use water management systems like barrier membranes, rain screens, and ledger board drip cap flashing to prevent damage to the rim joist and anything that is below (including stucco), especially in the case of taller decks. An expert stucco inspector can identify any problems that exist, or provide advice for protecting your stucco if you’re thinking of installing a deck.
#5. Material Transition Problems
Transitions between stucco and other construction materials like stone, concrete, siding, and brick can be problem areas if all joints between these dissimilar materials have not been properly sealed for expansion and contraction which can cause and exacerbate both cracking and water penetration. As with windows, doors, and chimneys, proper flashing of these joints to provide adequate water drainage can prevent major damage to stucco.
Stucco can last a lifetime and contribute to your home’s aesthetic beauty and overall value —providing it has been installed by an experienced, knowledgeable contractor. The team at Love Your Stucco have over 36 years of combined experience and expertise. Schedule a free consultation to discuss your stucco needs today!