A Brief Tutorial On Applying Stucco
Applying stucco, be it on the exterior or interior of a home, looks like something better left to a professional. Most have no idea what is in involved, and simply assume that there are only few people trained in applying stucco and the rest of us should not even consider trying to do so.
The truth is, applying stucco is not all that difficult. Admittedly, a professional can usually do the job more quickly with a superior result, but the same can be said for painting. Applying stucco is in fact not all that different from painting. Perhaps it is less messy, but by doing it properly it's not much more difficult, and one can be extremely creative as far as the desired outcome is concerned.
The cardinal rule when applying stucco is that it must be applied on a firm surface such as concrete, solid wood, or brick. If not, the structural integrity will likely suffer, and what should normally be an extremely durable surface may be easily damaged.
Stucco is nothing more than masonry cement and sand, one part of cement to three parts of sand, to which as small amount of lime and water is added. For a pure white finish, white Portland cement and silicon sand can be used, though this is only necessary for the final coat.
Preparing The Wall - When applying stucco to a brick or concrete wall, a concrete bonding agent needs to be painted on the wall first. When a wood wall is involved, the wall is first covered with roofing felt which is in turn covered with metal netting, held in place with galvanized roofing nails. This gives the stucco something to "hang on to".
The Scratch Coat - The first coat is then applied with a trowel, although stucco can also be sprayed on if desired, and allowed to cure for approximately 2 days. The stucco needs to be kept moist initially, which can be done my periodic misting with a garden hose.
When applying stucco, the first coat is referred to as the scratch coat. Before it has a chance to dry, the entire surface is subjected to scratches between 1/4 and 1/8 inch deep to give the following coat something to hang on to.
The Finish Coat - The final coat is the finish coat. It is usually the second coat, as two coats of stucco will normally last for many years before needing refinishing. It is when applying the finish coat that creativity and reign supreme. There is nothing whatsoever wrong with a smooth finish, though many prefer a finish that has some character, such as swirls, or other patterns. One can even make a template of patterns to press into the stucco. Patterns can be anything from leaf patterns to lines to curves, or whatever. As a final touch, the owner's initials and the date can be inscribed for posterity in a perhaps not overly conspicuous place. If a specific finishing color, other than white or slate gray, is desired, one can either mix stain into the final batch of stucco mix, or simply wait for everything to dry and paint it.
Sheds And Broom Closets - If applying stucco is something you'd like to try, the first thing to do is to make certain the walls in question are solid, uniform, and will look good with a stucco finish. If you decide to do indoor walls, you might even start with the broom closet to get some practice. Spraying on stucco often works best indoors, but everything not to be covered with stucco needs to be covered with something else! If outdoors, consider trying to stucco the tool shed or another small structure first if you have one, to gain a little practice. That's not essential, but may give you a little peace of mind.
Once Started, Keep Going - One thing that's important to remember. Once you start applying stucco to a wall, finish it. Don't stop halfway though with the intention of finishing later. If you do a wall in parts, the end result may not be all that desirable to look at.