Pros and Cons of Stucco Homes

A home with a stucco exterior and a gable vent.

Whether you're in the market to purchase a home, or you're ready to renovate your existing one, keep in mind that stucco homes have many advantages. Examine the following pros and cons of installing stucco siding to see if it is the right exterior for you.

Advantages of Stucco Homes

Stucco consists of cement, lime, and silica applied in several layers over wood or metal lath. Since these layers basically form a concrete shell around a house, a stucco home requires less energy to keep it cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Stucco can also help to reduce sound transmission. This is a great benefit to anyone living in a crowded neighborhood or close to a freeway interchange. It resists rot, mildew, and molds, and is also fire retardant In some instances stucco has saved homes from being consumed by grass and forest fires.

Despite the large investment required to install stucco on the exterior of your home, it will eventually pay for itself because of its easy maintenance requirement, and longevity. Stucco can last more than 50 years, depending on your local climate, and how well you maintain it over time.

Stucco installation is quick, works on many different kinds of homes, and gives you greater power over the exterior decor of your house. Even though stucco is applied in several coats, it may take as little as a day or two to install. It is versatile because it can be applied to both concrete masonries, and to wood-frame buildings. You have a great deal of control over the color of the finished product as well. While other types of siding are only available in the manufacturers’ predetermined color palettes, stucco can be mixed to give you the exact color you need.

There are options for changing the color of your exterior, too, if you decide you’re no longer satisfied with the look of the old stucco, or just want a change of color. Stucco is excellent for modern and southwestern styles of homes because its seamless appearance draws more attention to the home's other details, such as window trim, railings, wooden beams, roofing, etc. It is one exterior finish option that just never seems to go out of style. It even creates a suitable base for exterior artistic projects, like wall murals.

Disadvantages of Stucco Homes

One of the major drawbacks of having a stucco exterior is its high price tag in comparison to other types of siding, such as cement fiber or vinyl siding. A large portion of your expense will be spent on labor since stucco requires several layers of installation.

Stucco can tolerate moisture and expansion but only up to a certain point. It is not as good as a brick veneer or vinyl siding for keeping water out of the exterior walls of your house during periods of heavy rain. It will repel water well in average climates, but it may not be recommended in extremely rainy areas. Overall, it seems to work out better in dry, sunny climates.

If the foundation of your house is prone to shifting and settling (especially from a constantly wet ground) or if your area suffers from earthquakes, the new stucco layer might crack sooner than expected. Stucco is somewhat brittle and does not flex with your house quite as well as vinyl siding does.

Lastly, stucco requires you to plan your colors ahead of time. Even though you can choose practically any color you want, be sure that you choose the right color the first time. It is possible to paint over stucco, but the paint will have to be sandblasted off to allow the new stucco to bond to the old when you go to resurface it.