Applying stucco calls for steady hand, practice

Ask The Builder

November 11, 2007|By Tim Carter | Tim Carter,TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES

Can you apply stucco to the exterior of a brick home? What tips can you share to ensure the stucco does not peel off?

Yes, you can. Not only do you need the right tools and equipment, but you also need good hand-eye coordination to do the job well. These challenges are not insurmountable. You can rent the needed scaffolding and power mixer that will be required for the job. I recommend that you hone your technique on a practice wall before trying to stucco your house.

First, inspect your existing brick. It must be in good condition, clean and free of all dust. Correct any water-infiltration issues in the brick, as well as any problems with the flashings above or below windows and doors.

Applying stucco is almost always a two-step process. You typically apply a base or scratch coat that is about 3/8 -inch thick. The stucco mixture is a combination of clean sand, masonry cement and Portland cement. Mix 1 part Portland cement plus 1 part masonry cement with 8 parts of clean, damp medium sand to get a splendid base stucco mix. The same proportions can be used for the finish coat of stucco.

Get comfortable with the tools and techniques of applying stucco. You can do this by building an 8-foot-by-8-foot wall from two-by-fours. Cover the studs with 1/2 -inch thick cement board. Be sure this temporary wall is secured well, so that it doesn't tip over.

To start on your house, choose walls you rarely see or that can't be seen from the street. You want the most visible walls to be stuccoed last, after you have discovered how to do a great job. Don't worry about perfection on the base coat, since it will be covered with the finish coat. You want the base coat to be somewhat rough so the finish coat bites into it.

Before applying the base coat of stucco, get the brick wall damp by misting it with a hose. The best conditions to apply stucco are overcast days with the temperature between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not apply any stucco if the temperature will drop below 32 degrees within days of applying either the base or finish coat of stucco.

Expert home builder and remodeling contractor Tim Carter has 20 years of hands-on experience in the home industry. He is a licensed master plumber, master carpenter, master roof cutter and real estate broker. If you have a question, go to askthebuilder.com and click on "Ask Tim."

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