stucco or brick in cold weather climate?

Old 11-13-05, 05:20 PM
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Question stucco or brick in cold weather climate?


We will be building a home in Toronto, a cold weather climate. We like the look of stucco but have gotten conflicting reports on whether to use it on the exterior or brick. So many houses in the area are using stucco now. I heard of some sort of waterproofing substance which is supposed to make the stucco long lasting. Any advice on stucco or brick in this situation.
Old 11-13-05, 07:00 PM
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stucco or brick in cold weather climate?

Neither stucco or brick are primary weatherproofing exteriors, just as vinyl siding is not. All must have a primary weatherproofing (house wrap, tar paper, etc.) under them. They vary in appearance, cost, and durability.

Vinyl is the cheapest thing you can put on a house. It does a good job of making a poorly maintained or old house appear good.

Stucco has a long history of success in northern climates as cold or colder than Toronto. The traditional 3 coat system is proven and has been completely saticfactory even without a proper barrier underneath. The newer synthetic systems (EIFS) applied over rigid insulation have given a bad name to the stucco industry because of incompatibility with most wood frame homes. Some municipalities do not permit the use of this type of system with wood frame. It is permitted over concrete. These same municipalities do approve the use of the traditional stucco system. Stucco offers a wide range of appearances for all types of architecture. I would recommend the 3 coat system over the modified (2 coat) method, but both are good.

Brick is also proven system with a wide range of appearances that can come from the selection of colors and textures compounded by the variations in coursing and details. The durability and value added to the home is well known.

Most problem buildings I see (brick, stucco or vinyl) have a common source of moisture problems. That source is invariably the installation of doors and windows, which can cause rot, deterioration and mold. Other sources (ventilation, attachment leaks, structural faults, non-complying barriers) constitute a lesser portion of the problems. The percentage of poorly installed windows is amazingly high. The problem has reached the point where certification of window installers is becoming necessary to prevent unqualified installers from collecting money and leaving other with the problems.

Between brick and stucco, I would choose the material works best for your home design and personal appearance preference. I would try to get a certified window installer involved unless you are dealer with a well known reputation and long-term, experienced installers. Some builder sub out window installation rather than rely on untrained personnel on an item that is becoming so important.


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