what to do about cracks in exterior stucco finish

thelexApril 3, 2012

Our house is only 7 yrs old. But the stucco finish is looking very bad. There's a lot of spider cracks running like craze lines everywhere. You can see it's starting to look unsightly. None of them have gotten more than half the thickness of a dime. I've had a few painters come out. Some say to use a elastomeric paint - spray and backroll and spray again. Others say to patch the cracks with some sort of caulking compound made specifically for these types of cracks, and then paint.

Some say that the caulking will eventually show through and be unsightly. I like the idea of the elastomeric paint. But I'm worried that it may be somehow bad for the building since the plaster won't "breathe" like it did before.

The bids are more expensive than I thought they'd be - approx $7k


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We bought a 10 year old house last year that was built with stucco and painted with elastomeric paint ... you would never know the paint is now over 11 years old. I don't see any cracks like the one in your photo. What is your climate? The house is in CA and things seem to weather much better here than they did in the northeast. The freeze-thaw cycles cause the most damage.

Have you contacted a stucco installer? They might have a better idea why you have so many cracks.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 12:59AM
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I too am in California. It has been suggested to me that the stucco was improperly installed. I have spoken to an attorney but unless I get at least 5-10 neighbors together, it's not worth going up against the developer.

Some painters have recommended the use of an elastomeric paint. I was worried that the seal with that kind of paint would be so tight that the stucco would not be able to breathe and that might cause other problems.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 4:47AM
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Stucco that looks like that after only 7 years spells class action suit to me. Investigate where yours came from and who put it on and don't stop when they tell you they're out of business and bankrupt.
Your house may be finished with something called EFIS. That's not a brand. It's a way to finish the outside of a house to look like stucco, and there has been a few companies over the years that have gone out of business leaving houses like this.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 6:37PM
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You have a traditional stucco top coat over a scratch/brown coat base. The main reason for spider cracks is that the scratch/brown coat isn't allowed a long enough period to settle and crack before applying the top coat. The n.b.c. now allows the topcoat to be applied after seven days. The old code period is thirty days which most reputable stucco contractors still utilize. It's also a good idea to keep the scratch/brown coats dampened down every other day or so during the thirty day curing period. More in hot weather. less in colder weather. but it helps slow down the curing process and lessens chances of cracking after the top coat is applied. Other reasons for cracking are due to settling, not allowing framing members to dry out if rained on or wet and lathing over, bad lathing installs, but primarily spider cracking is due to covering over the scratch/brown coats pre-maturely. The best fix at this point would not be to elasomeric paint over the top coat but rather re-topcoat over again.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 11:12AM
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i have this same issue...does the cracked top/color coat have to be removed to get down to the brown coat before retop coating?

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 4:37PM
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I am assuming that you live in a "track home", only because you mentioned the "Developer" in your post.

Unfortunately, these are done very quickly and (like sierraeast stated) the scratch coat was not allowed a curing time (3-5 days) or the brown coat, which is about 28 days.

They scratch and brown will have hairline cracks like the ones in the picture you posted, but it is natural. The idea is to let the scratch and brown coats crack and cure, so no cracking occurs on the finish coat (top coat).

This would more than likely (based on your info) have to be settled in court and will be difficult to do... Who's to blame, the developer or the stucco contractor?

To fix the issue, let the house crack more, until it eventually stops (hopefully it does) and then you can either:

* Apply an elastomeric paint to the outside
* Have a reputable stucco contractor apply another finish coat (preferrably an acrylic) to stop any more cracking from occuring.

Either way, it is going to be costly and I am sorry for the "bad news"

Try to paint over the cracks, to see if they disappear, before patching all of them.

If you have to caulk them, use a wet rag to wipe off excess caulk, only filling the crack and nothing else. Then dab the caulk with a paintbrush to give it a little texture, so it doesn't stand out like a sore thumb.

Hope this helps...

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 8:08PM
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