Stucco Repair vs. Stucco Remediation

Stucco is a durable mix of cement, lime, and sand that provides an attractive, weatherproof coating for the walls. However, it can crack over time due to a number of reasons.Stucco Repair

Small stucco cracks are easy for homeowners to fix on their own. Larger ones and any stains of mold, rust, or dirt require a more thorough inspection and may call for remediation instead. For professional help, contact Stucco Repair Philadelphia.

The surface of a stucco wall is typically the first to show signs of moisture damage. This includes discoloration, blotching, and cracking of the plaster. It also causes efflorescence or salts to build up beneath the paint. If left untreated, these salts can blister the stucco. Stucco remediation is a much more extensive fix than just painting and should only be performed by experienced contractors.

Stucco is a popular choice for exterior wall cladding, and it can be quite durable when correctly installed and maintained. However, it is prone to moisture problems, especially in older or newer homes that have been poorly constructed or neglected. The problem is most commonly caused by water intrusion, either because the house was not built with a proper drainage system or because the stucco was installed without a weep screed.

Portland cement plaster is a breathable material that allows moisture vapor to escape, so it does not trap water as rust or wood can. Moisture enters buildings through the roof, chimneys, or windows and doors. It can also seep behind building paper that has been torn or is not properly lapped at the seams. This moisture can deteriorate the exterior finish, causing it to rot or even lead to a structure failure.

When the stucco is leaking or damp, it is time to consider some type of repair. Stucco repairs are a good option for smaller problems that are cosmetic in nature and do not require significant structural repair. For large areas of discoloration or cracked plaster, a complete repourding may be needed.

During stucco repair, it is important to avoid extreme weather conditions. Freezing temperatures will ruin the stucco mix, and hot, dry, windy weather will draw out the moisture the mixture needs to cure properly. A good rule of thumb is to wait until nighttime temperatures are above freezing and work in the shade when applying the stucco.

It is also a good idea to cover any surfaces that will be worked on with plastic sheets, as the alkalis in the stucco can burn skin. Finally, it is important to mist the patch with water regularly to keep it moist as it cures.

Water Damage

While stucco is a durable material that resists moisture, the surface can still be subject to water intrusion and damage. This can lead to staining, blistering, cracking, and even crumbling. Surface moisture also leads to the development of mold and mildew, which can be very unsightly and create a musty or damp smell.

A musty or damp smell can also indicate that the underlying substrate and insulation are being compromised by water, and it is essential to get this checked out as soon as possible before the problem gets worse. This is caused by the accumulation of water behind the stucco and can cause serious structural problems that will require costly repairs.

Water damage is also an issue that can be brought on by improper installation. Incorrect flashing or sealants and the use of hard cementitious materials incompatible with the stucco can cause significant deterioration and moisture issues.

The most obvious sign of a problem with moisture is the appearance of spots or areas on your stucco that look damp, discolored, or flaky. These are early signs of delamination, which is the breakdown of the plaster surface due to prolonged exposure to moisture. This is not something that can be repaired by patching up the surface and should be referred to a professional for a moisture test.

Other things to watch for include gaps and cracks around windows and the caulking that surrounds them, especially on the bottom of the window. This is a common place for water to penetrate the stucco and is also an indicator that the caulking may need replacing.

Stucco should be sealed to prevent the penetration of moisture and air from the interior. A professional should be able to inspect the area and recommend the appropriate solution for your building or home. It is important to get this done as quickly as possible to prevent the underlying issues from becoming severe and expensive. The longer a problem is allowed to persist, the more difficult it will be to get your homeowner’s insurance to cover the cost of remediation.

Structural Integrity

Unlike surface cracking, which is relatively easy to repair, structural damage may require more extensive work. This is especially true if the cracks run the length of the wall or if they are very wide.

One of the most serious types of stucco cracking is a series of diagonal lines that run parallel to each other across the entire width of the wall. This type of cracking is almost always indicative of severe foundation settlement or heave. Foundation settlement causes the lath and wood framing to move and can result in a very costly fix to stabilize and support the building.

Another red flag for severe cracking is if the cracks appear to line up with each other, as if they are continuing from the stucco down into the foundation, basement, or slab below. This is a clear sign that the problem is much more significant and requires immediate attention.

If the cracks in a stucco wall are accompanied by a powdery white substance called efflorescence, then it is definitely time to call a professional. Efflorescence is caused by soluble salts in water that migrate to the outside of a stucco wall and evaporate as it dries. This is a sign of moisture intrusion that should be addressed immediately before it becomes a major structural issue.

Wide cracks and those that are raked, which are shaped like a parallelogram rather than a 90-degree right angle, are also signs of serious concerns. Racking can be caused by seismic shifts or by expansive soils that cause the house to settle or heave. In such cases, it is important to have the underlying issues resolved before doing any stucco repairs.

Stucco is an excellent choice for exterior building materials because it is durable, attractive, and requires little maintenance other than keeping it clean. It is a versatile material that can be applied with many texturing effects to achieve the desired look, and it also offers natural fire resistance. However, it is important to check all building substrates and coatings for damage on a regular basis, as even the most resilient materials can be compromised by environmental factors.

time to remediate

When a stucco home or building is damaged, it can lead to a number of problems, from energy loss and water damage to mold and dry rot. Stucco is a durable material, but when it becomes damaged, it needs to be repaired properly to prevent further problems. A good professional stucco contractor will provide advice on whether repair or remediation is needed. Stucco remediation is a more comprehensive process than repair in that it addresses the underlying cause of the problem rather than just the surface damage.

Stucco repair works best for smaller, isolated areas of damage. Cracks or flaking can often be repaired with a good-quality caulking product that is paintable. For a more permanent fix, a pre-mixed stucco patch may be applied to larger areas of damaged or missing stucco. These patches should be applied in layers and allowed to cure according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. This type of repair should always be done in weather that is above freezing.

A more serious issue, especially for older homes, is the widespread damage caused by moisture penetration. This can destroy the framing around windows and doors as well as the stucco itself. Typically, this is an indication of improper installation of the stucco or foundation.

The first step in determining if this is the case is to conduct a thorough inspection of the stucco walls. Look for signs of moisture penetration, such as water spots or mildew stains. You should also inspect the area around the windows and doors to see if there is evidence of wood rot.

If you see any of these issues, you should call a professional to do a full inspection. If the results are not to your satisfaction, remediation may be necessary. It is important to get this work done as soon as possible to keep the damage from spreading further. Water penetration in the wall system can quickly lead to mold and dry rot in the wooden frame. This can be expensive to repair and can even require the complete removal of the entire wall system!