Stucco Repair – How Cracks in Stucco Can Contribute to Long-Term Damage

Although cracks in stucco may seem like cosmetic issues, they can contribute to lasting damage. This is especially true if they go beyond the surface. Read on Stucco Repair Philadelphia to learn more.

Stucco Services

Cover areas around the stucco to protect them from dust while chiseling and removing the damaged stucco. Ensure you have a good layer of lath behind the stucco before attempting to patch.

Stucco is a beautiful material but can be very sensitive to moisture. If a home experiences a lot of water, stucco can suffer from mildew, mold, ugly discoloration on the exterior and wall rot on the interior – all of which require costly repairs. A skilled stucco contractor can prevent these problems by detecting moisture intrusion before it becomes too severe and by performing a thorough inspection and remediation when the problem is discovered.

The most common sign of moisture damage to stucco is leaking at window or door openings. This is usually caused by damaged or misplaced plumbing, but it may also indicate that moisture is trapped behind the stucco causing unsightly spots and marks on interior walls and ceilings. Moisture behind stucco is often the result of improper or insufficient flashing. If the problem is allowed to continue, moisture can lead to staining, cracking and deterioration of the stucco and framing.

Another common warning sign of moisture damage to stucco is efflorescence. This is a powdery substance that appears on the surface of stucco and is a clear indication that moisture has built up in and around the wall. This can be caused by a number of issues, including an inadequate paper moisture barrier, water leaks, improper installation of weep screed or even a lack of a weep screed altogether.

A weep screed is a layer of coarse aggregate placed on the bottom of a wall to allow moisture to escape without causing structural damage to the stucco. This layer is designed to prevent the wicking effect that can occur in a poorly installed or maintained stucco wall, which can lead to blistering and other moisture damage. A weep screed is essential to the longevity of your stucco and should be installed at the time of installation or shortly thereafter.

Small cracks in the stucco can be repaired with a caulk gun and the proper mix of materials. If the crack is more substantial, however, it is best to consult a stucco repair professional for help in finding and correcting the underlying cause of the problem before patching the crack. A qualified stucco repair expert will be able to determine the source of the moisture by performing a moisture test, which involves inserting probes into suspect areas of the wall and measuring the actual moisture content.

Damaged Stucco

Occasionally, a stucco job goes wrong for reasons beyond the control of the homeowner. The result of shoddy workmanship might show up as minor surface damage to the stucco, or it may cause significant water intrusion, dry rot and structural issues throughout the building that require costly remediation. Oftentimes these issues are not covered by homeowners insurance, but an experienced attorney can help set up compensation for the builder or contractor.

Surface level damage to stucco is not always cause for alarm, but an experienced stucco repair person can help determine whether a complete remediation project is required. Oftentimes, this is determined by doing moisture and leak testing to identify the cause of the damage.

Cracks and chips should be repaired promptly, as these are often the first signs of structural damage to the underlying framing. The best way to do this is to chip away the damaged stucco with a hammer and cold chisel, working gently and cautiously so as not to damage the wood lath supports.

Once the damaged stucco has been removed, a new patch can be applied using a pre-mixed stucco patching material. The patch can be textured to match the existing stucco, and a pigmented coating can be applied over the patch to protect it from further damage. The pigmented coating used at this house was a water-based acrylic elastomer, but other options include mineral paints and stains, lime washes or “fog coats” of pigmented cement.

While the patch is setting, it’s important to reinforce the patch area by tying back any loose or sagging sections of the stucco and adding new reinforcement bars where needed. Once the patch has been set, a new layer of grade-D builders paper can be applied to the back of the wooden lath support and affixed with roofing nails. Then the new stucco can be affixed to the paper with Portland cement.

Stucco remediation is a more expensive service than simple repairs, but it solves the underlying problem that’s causing the stucco to fail. As long as moisture penetrates the exterior of the wall, it won’t matter how many times you repair the stucco; the issue will continue to return. By addressing the moisture penetration through a remediation process, you can keep your home safe and dry for years to come.

Structural Issues

Stucco can be a beautiful addition to a home, but like any other material it is subject to deterioration and damage. When this happens, the structural integrity of the wall can be compromised causing serious problems for homeowners. Thankfully, stucco is relatively easy to repair when damage occurs. The key to avoiding future damage is to have a professional inspect the home for signs of water intrusion and other potential issues. Stucco Repair Professionals will inspect the width, depth, location, and angle of the cracks to determine how serious the problem is.

Hairline cracks are the most common type of crack in a stucco wall. These are caused by normal stresses on the structure from vibrations around the house, changes in weather, and shifting of the foundation. They are easy to patch with joint compound, but the best way to prevent these cracks from reoccurring is to perform a full remediation of the walls.

These repairs include the removal of the old stucco, installation of a new base coat, application of a skim coat, and replastering of the entire wall system. The result is a new surface that will not only hide the cracks, but also protect the underlying structure of the home.

Other types of cracks in a stucco wall require a more extensive repair. Spider cracking is an indication that the base layer of stucco did not cure properly for a number of reasons including bad weather, incorrect stucco mix, or the improper method of application. This type of cracking needs to be repaired by removing the old plaster and re-applying the base coat.

Lastly, if the wall is bulging or leaning it could be a sign that the framing of the structure is not secure and needs to be fixed. This is a major problem and should be addressed immediately by a professional.

If the homeowner sees any of these symptoms, it is important to contact a stucco specialist and have a complete inspection done. This will help to uncover any underlying issues that need to be resolved. Simple repairs will not solve the underlying issue, and in the long run could end up costing more money in the future. Having these issues resolved with a full remediation is the best solution to save the homeowner money and protect their investment.


Remediation is more in-depth than repair and addresses the underlying issues that caused the damage. It typically involves replastering the entire wall system and repairing any structural issues. Remediation is more expensive than repair, but can save you money in the long run by avoiding costly repairs and maintenance down the road.

Stucco remediation is most often needed for damage that has a significant structural component or is not cosmetic in nature, such as crumbling or falling plaster, holes, or cracks. Remediation may also be necessary if you have seen moisture penetration, mold and mildew, or wall rot, all of which can lead to serious, expensive problems if left unchecked.

Moisture causes most stucco failure. It can cause a variety of issues including the formation of mildew and mold, ugly discoloration, and wall rot, which can compromise the integrity of the walls. Water intrusion into the space between the outer stucco and the inner framework can cause wood lath to rot and metal to corrode. This is what causes the bulges and cracks that are characteristic of delaminated stucco.

To remedy these issues, you need to remove the damaged stucco down to the metal lath and replaster. The first step is to cut away any old stucco that is rotted or otherwise compromised with a hammer and cold chisel, being careful not to damage the underlying wood lath. Once the old stucco is removed, inspect the underlying metal mesh for signs of rust and corrosion. If the mesh is still in good condition, you can continue with your repair. If not, you will need to replace it with new metal lath, which should be done by a professional to ensure proper installation.

Once you have the new metal lath in place, you can apply a thick coat of a waterproof stucco coating to prevent moisture from penetrating the wall. You can find pre-mixed stucco coating that is ready to trowel on or conventional stucco mixture that you mix yourself in a wheelbarrow or bucket following the manufacturer’s instructions. It’s important to work in a well-ventilated area and to use protective clothing and goggles when working with muriatic acid, which is used to clean the metal lath.