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Erin Jamieson is passionate about making the space you live in as comfortable, affordable, and personal as possible. With her vast nonprofit experience, including for organizations like Habit for Humanity, as well as experience writing for startups, she brings both financial, mechanical, and stylistic advice to make your home uniquely yours. Erin Jamieson holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Miami University of Ohio.
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- - August 6, 2021
Stucco known for its ability to hold paint efficiently, filling hairline cracks and even deflecting UV light is also prized for its aesthetic final product. But knowing how to use it, and even finding the right color, can be a challenge.
Challenge aside, the results can be stunning–and even transformative. That’s especially true for Linda Freund, who purchased a bungalow in the Bay Area fifteen years ago loved the general look and the simple two bedrooms, one bath layout but was less than thrilled about the plain white walls covering the compact space.
The walls, which were stucco, luckily were easy to transform. Using the solid stucco basis, she added warmth her rooms with cherry-hued walls, golden ceilings, and copper and pale yellow in the living areas. After she added a few pieces of artwork, the transformation was complete.
Stucco paint in of itself, as Linda discovered, is a powerful foundation for homes, and has the ability to create a beautiful and durable living space. But at the same time, just as Linda discovered, choosing the right color can make a world of a difference.
So how do you find the right color and the best paint for stucco? And should you really use stucco in your home renovations?
Read on for step by step advice so you can start transforming your home today.
What is stucco paint?
Stucco paint is a mixture of either powdered limestone or cement and sand and water. Fiber is sometimes added for extra strength and polymers for extra flexibility.
While traditionally stucco is made with limestone, more contemporary stucco often favors cement. the mixture is combined until it reaches a consistency like mortar. In more technical terms, stucco combines binder, ‘aggregates’ and water and is meant to be durable and multipurpose.
The term stucco itself is shrouded in some confusion. While in Italian the term refers to ‘plaster’ the meaning of the word has somewhat evolved, especially pertaining to the English language. Now, stucco refers to both interior decorative plaster and plaster used for the outside of buildings. For our purposes, we will mostly be discussing how you can use stucco inside your home for decorative and other uses and the front of your home.
Is there a specific type of concrete that should be used for stucco?
While any concrete can be used to create stucco, hydraulic cement is the most ideal material to work as a binding agent. That’s because hydraulic cement is optimized to prevent leaks. It is also a favorite for common use in structures such as swimming pools, chimneys, manholes, basement walls, and even drainage systems.
Like mortar, hydraulic cement is known to have a fast setting rate and is considered a durable and protective material. It’s known also for its affordability, strength even when immersed in water, and of course, ries very quickly. Of course, this also means that stucco made with hydraulic concrete needs to be applied almost immediately, and it also does not work well in conditions below forty degrees Fahrenheit.
What about limestone?
Limestone, as we mentioned, is a little less common in stucco today. Limestone of course is a naturally occuring sedimentary rock formed by coral, shell, alage, and calcium carbonate. Limestone is prized for its durability, ability to be shaped and molded, and non flammable qualities. There are some downsides, however. Compared with hydraulic cement, limestone requires somewhat regular maintenance and as a softer substance, is also more easily damaged. It is possible to also to make stucco made with hydraulic limestone, which is preferred over regular limestone for its water and leak resistance qualities.
Where is stucco most used?
As we mentioned, stucco is multipurpose and is actually used in a variety of ways and places. Stucco has commonly been used on concrete walls, frame structures, and even siding. Concrete, clay, adobe, and cinder block are the most common places where stucco is used.
However, even wood can have stucco applied to it, so long as the proper procedures are followed.
Inside the home, stucco is popularly used to cover wall defects, nail holes, cracks, and other oddities. Even though stucco is more commonly used as an exterior covering, it’s becoming more popular as a multipurpose use inside homes.
Why would I want to use stucco?
There are a number of reasons why you might want to use stucco–both on a functional and aesthetic basis. Some advantages of stucco include:
Stucco is not only resistant to leaks and water but it also generally considered fire resistant, as well as less susceptible to mold, termites, rot and even harsh climates.
Quieter living space:
Stucco is actually considered to be a sound reducer, at least when it’s used for exterior siding. It’s a popular pick for, particularly congested roads.
Stucco paint lasts longer than regular paint, meaning you’ll have to take out your paint brushes less often than you would normally.
The texture of stucco is one of the biggest draws for anyone considering stucco on an aesthetic basis. Stucco provides a unique, vintage or historical appeal both to interiors and exteriors. A more dimensional look makes stucco a beautiful choice, and there are also multiple textures you can choose from.
What are the different stucco textures people use both in and outside of their homes?
Different stucco textures are more for an overall visual appeal as opposed to a functional difference. The most common textures that can be achieved with stucco include:
Dash stucco has a gravel-like look and can range from fine to heavy, with a gritty finish, best suited for exteriors. Dash stucco is created by either spraying or splattering stucco.
As the name implies, worn stucco includes some worm-like shapes in an otherwise smoother texture. The less conventional texture is made by using a towel to create wavering indents on an otherwise smooth finish.
Sand or float finish:
Sand, or float finish, is a bit more common for stucco and incorporates, as the name implies, a good deal of sand, whether fine or heavy, to create a texture that is fairly evenly spread but slightly raised.
Smooth is probably the texture that many least associate with stucco because it has the least noticeable unique look. As the name implies, it is universally smooth, and useful for interior walls or as an alternative to traditional paint, but with a little more texture.
Pebbledash stucco contains a variety of materials, including pebbles, gravel, flint, and even seashells and glass, for one of the boldest and artistic of statements, more commonly used for exteriors as opposed to interiors.
Are there any downsides to using stucco for my interior or exterior home renovations?
While stucco is an excellent way to either upgrade your home or decorate it in a new, fresh way, it’s not an entirely perfect solution. Like every other material you might consider for your home, stucco has some defects.
In the past, one of the most concerning issues associated with stucco was its vulnerability to cracking as soil shifts and settling occurs. However recent developments incorporating polymers have somewhat mitigated these risks.
Some remaining obstacles associated with using stucco include:
Harder installation process
Either by your own hand or potentially more expensive if you hire someone
Stucco may be water resistant with the use of hydraulic limestone and concrete but it can retain water. However, that is normally due to improper installment, which is why, unless you’re very experienced, stucco may be worth hiring someone to do for you.
Maintenance is not too terrible
But that is by no means to say it’s non-existent. For stucco to keep well, you need to make sure it’s inspected on a regular basis for any holes or cracks. A plus side of this is that in general,it’s a good idea to perform regular home inspections. Doing so can actually save you money long term.
Where can I purchase stucco?
Stucco can be purchased some places but many actually prefer to make it. You typically need to make it yourself–that’s why it’s important to understand what goes into making stucco. Stucco may not seem like it, but it is picky in terms of needing to follow specific steps in a specific order to make sure it comes out right. In order to make stucco. Note that these steps combine lime, concrete, and sand for stucco; we’ll also include links for other forms of stucco, depending on your preferences:
- Measure five gallons of clean sand, preferably in a wheelbarrow.
- Add a gallon of hydraulic lime
- Add a quart of cement and mix with a hoe.
- Slowing add water until there is no more dry powder and the mixture is similar in texture to pudding.
- As you work with the mixture keep it damp to prevent it hardening, but be careful not to pour too much water in–you want it like pudding, not as liquid as soup.
While the general process is the same, you can also make stucco using a ratio of three parts sand to one part cement, with water until the consistency is correct, if you prefer not to use limestone at all.
If you are set on purchasing stucco, you can normally find it at a home improvement store; you can also shop for stucco online (we’ll give some suggestions later). Purchasing pre-made stucco may be worth it because it ensures you have the create consistency; there is not as much room for error when you’re working with stucco you’ve made yourself.
How is stucco applied?
Again while we caution that stucco is best applied by a professional, it still doesn’t hurt to familiarize yourself with the process. It’s also a good way of determining whether or not stucco makes sense for your living space and desired home renovations.
First, all dust and dirt need to be cleaned from the rior or exterior walls; this can often be accomplished by simply using a bristle brush, though in some cases a power washer may be helpful for deep cleaning in crevices. It’s also essential that you fill in hairline cracks before the project begins.
How is stucco painted?
If you’re reading this article, you’re not only interested in stucco, but stucco with color. Stucco, however, isn’t actually painted on. Painting on top of stucco is normally a mistake and won’t have the same lasting durability of stucco that is already colored.
Instead, stucco should be mixed with pigment before it’s applied. Pigment is mixed into the finishing coat. However thin coat can be applied on top of pigmented stucco if you’re looking to change the color in a few years.
How do I find the right color?
Part of finding the best paint for stucco is not only knowing the best materials and different textures but also the right color for your home project. Any interior paint should complement what you already have in the house and should also reflect the overall look you’re going for. Warmer colors will make a room appear larger, while cooler tones can be calming and bring order to a less orderly room.
But while you have a good deal of freedom as to how to use stucco should you choose in your home, most are more concerned about what others see–the color on the exterior that others will see as they drive past.
Like traditional paint there are a number of considerations that go into finding the right color of stucco for your exterior:
Consider your surroundings.
Look at other homes near you and note the color tones they incorporate most. While you may want your house to have extra character a pink house on a street of chestnut and gray homes will stand out–and not in a good way. Drive around to get some color inspirations. You can also go for a different hue, but try to stay within the same color families. Blues, creams, beiges, yellows, browns, greens and grays are the most popular exterior colors in the United States, but certain regions are known for bolder hues.
In addition to other homes, you’ll also want to select a stucco paint color that complements landscaping–unless you’re planning a landscaping overhaul. More desert or tropical flora would call for bright rich tones, like oranges, while tall pine trees work well with sages and browns.
Go for two to three colors for your exterior.
When it comes to stucco paint color for the exterior of your home, opt for around two to three colors. Less, the effect of stucco will be one note and may not have the resounding qualities you’re looking for, but too many different hues will simple right each other. When picking tones, look for complementary colors or within the same color family. Many stores will have swatches that show complementary colors; if you are concerned about picking a few tones ask for help.
Select your colors in daylight.
While it may be tempting to find a color and feel you love it, see if you can get a small sample and look at it during daylight, outside. Inside lighting, as well as wall colors and decor, an be distracting; even external trim can keep you from understanding what the color will look after it’s applied.
Go for more subtle colors when in doubt.
Even more so than with regular paint, stucco can be bold and have a dramatic effect, especially if you’re looking at a more heavily textured stucco. Go for a shade more subdued than you think you’d like. Not only will the impact be greater once applied all over and also with texture in the mix, but you may find against the trim you don’t want that deeper color.
Use a digital app.
Traditional paint suppliers now are incorporating digital applications where you can visualize how paint would like both in and outside of your home. While for now,these cater more to traditional paint, it can still provide a visualization of the general color scheme you might look for in stucco paint.
Consider earth tones and neutrals.
Earth tones exude warmth and still look at home with natural settings and in most neighborhoods. Both earth tones and neutrals also can really highlight the beautiful textures of stucco. If you’re going for a more highly textured look, opt for creams, browns, caramels, beiges, tans, and light grays so you don’t distract from the stucco.
Brighter, but coordinated.
Pink hues are a popular pick in some regions, as are oranges, apricots, and even blue. Opt for slightly paler hues; they will still look rich and make sure you go with a two-tone look for more dimension–choosing close complementary colors that don’t fight the overall palette. These work best with smoother stucco textures.
White for a modern, clean look.
If you’re looking for a clean and more minimalistic look bright white stucco can be a beautiful choice. Accent with neutral colors or just a hint of blue.
Add an antique flair:
Ask if a sponge effect can be applied for a more antique, vintage look. Just make sure you can test it out to make sure you like the effect; if you do go for a sponge effect, consider a smoother stucco.