Water-Damaged Stucco

How to fix water damaged stucco

A home finished in stucco is beautiful. This type of exterior offers a sleek, clean and aesthetically pleasing look. Homeowners also tend to choose stucco because of its great anti-fungal benefits and high-quality material. Stucco is made from cement, sand, and lime; therefore, it requires little maintenance and is effective at hiding flaws like chips and cracks. Stucco also has natural thermo-regulating properties, so the home remains cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Stucco comes with many desirable qualities, however, the one drawback with a stucco exterior can be water damage. Although the stucco-plaster is water-resistant, excessive water is its enemy because left untreated, it will cause permanent structural damage. Here are the sources and problems with water-damaged stucco as well as prevention tips to help protect your home.

Sources of Water-Damaged Stucco

Some of the main sources of water damage for stucco include surface moisture, hydraulic pressure, and wicking.

Surface moisture consists of water hitting the outside surface and running down the exterior walls. This can occur through a sloppy sprinkler system, or if there aren’t any gutters along the roof to whisk the moisture away from the home’s exterior, or if the flashing on the roof and balconies has been installed improperly.

Hydraulic pressure is when water migrates from behind the stucco and compromises the integrity of the stucco from behind.

Wicking means the plaster has been in direct contact with dirt or concrete where ground moisture can be absorbed. This tends to happen when a weep screed, a material that serves as a vent so that moisture can escape the stucco, is either non-existent or installed incorrectly.

Water Damage Problems for Stucco

Staining: One of the first signs of water-damaged stucco is staining. When stucco becomes saturated with water, it automatically turns a darker shade, but a stain remains even after the surface has dried. Heavy rains can splatter grime, dust, and debris onto the stucco walls causing stains to set in, which not only change the aesthetics of the exterior but also cause the stucco to begin deteriorating. Wicking can also cause staining. This is when moisture is absorbed into the plaster and it begins to weaken from the inside out.

Blistering: If the stucco has taken on excessive amounts of water over a period of time, efflorescence may result. Efflorescence is a white crystalline, powdery or fuzzy residue that can accumulate on the surface of the stucco. This deposit is a direct result of water entering the walls. Once this occurs, blistering is sure to follow, which causes the different layers of paint to peel away from the walls of the house.

Mold: Wherever there is moisture, mold will thrive. When stucco remains damp for an extended period of time due to the lack of sunlight, mold can set in. Mold tends to rear its ugly head through a green film or black stains on the exterior surface of the stucco. This growth is difficult to kill and clean, plus, it often comes from an underlying issue that caused the moisture in the first place. Therefore, address the source of the mold first, and then you will be able to fully eliminate the problem.

Cracks: When stucco is water damaged, cracks begin to appear around windows and door frames. If you come across web-like cracks in the stucco, this can be a result of errors in the installation. Cracks are a big deal and should never be ignored because anytime stucco cracks, the interior of the home becomes susceptible to water damage.

Prevent Water Damage to Stucco

Inspect for Cracks: You can preserve the integrity of your stucco and prevent water damage by regularly inspecting the plaster and immediately sealing any small cracks you see.

Keep It Sealed: If regular crack inspections are not something you see yourself doing throughout the year, it might be best to hire a professional to put a coat of sealant over the top of the stucco to keep moisture from penetrating.

Check doors and windows: Wood-trimmed doorframes and window frames will not remain permanently sealed to the stucco. Therefore, regularly check to see if any separation has occurred and if it has, be sure to immediately fill the gaps with some caulk.

Stucco exterior on a home is practical and aesthetically-pleasing but like most things, there are some drawbacks. If you find yourself in need of some stucco maintenance or repair, be sure to call a professional to help you protect your home.