There is a lot of allure in stucco. It has a classic look, with an ornate, intricate texture that has defined the American Southwest for decades. It's also a durable, easy to maintain coating that provides a lot of protection to your property from the elements. The materials it’s made out provides a great shield against the heat of the sun, and, if properly maintained, it can last for over 50 years, with little stucco repair.
However, while it all pretty much looks the same, with its telltale contours, and rustic finish, when you hire a stucco contractor, they’re going to ask if you want traditional, or EIFS, also known as synthetic.
What is Traditional?
At its core, it is a mixture of Portland cement, lime, sand, and water. Sometimes gypsum is added as well. When mixed, it forms a plaster-ish material that can be applied to interior and exterior walls, ceilings, and other appropriate surfaces. It’s a very common substance, with a tried and true history. And because of this, there are many skilled stucco contractors out there.
What is EIFS Synthetic?
EIFS stands for External Insulation and Finishing Systems. While the traditional stuff is applied more liberally, EIFS added in layers. At first, a polystyrene board is fixed to the surface, which a layer of EIFS is applied to. Next, a fiberglass mesh is added, which a finishing coat of synthetic is then added. Some property owners will go the extra mile, and add a water resistant barrier, or additional layers for increased protection. It’s hard to tell the difference between the two upon a cursory look.
The Advantages of Traditional
It’s quicker to add to your surface, requiring less layering. Additionally, since it’s been around for a while, most contractors who do cement can work with the traditional stuff. It’s also cheaper than EIFS since it’s just Portland cement, plus some common minerals, plywood. and mesh.
It also hardens really fast, it’s easier to repair due to its availability, and when it’s time to do stucco repair, it’s more available. Additionally, if you’re looking to do decorative stucco, it’s easier to work with since it is essentially just globs of cement and not a complex substrate like EIFS.
The Advantages of EIFS
People opt in for EIFS because it’s more durable. By using a polystyrene backing, multiple layers, and fiberglass frame, it creates a more insulating layer that seals better against the elements, such as water. This also makes it more flexible, allowing it to move as your house naturally shifts due to movement in the earth, or as the temperature changes outside. Additionally, due to its flexibility, when you need stucco repair, you may not require as much construction, as it may be as simple as replacing a panel, instead of removing an entire wall.
Cons of Traditional Stucco
When a restucco is necessary, many times it requires the entire surface it’s on to be replaced. This is because it’s easier for water to get in, which spreads throughout the entire surface, and degrades the material from the inside out.
Additionally, it’s more prone to damage from fluctuating temperature changes and erosion. This can make it difficult to maintain in certain climates, such as in Santa Fe, where it can go from hot to cold relatively quickly.
Choosing Stucco Vs. Plaster
Plaster and stucco have a similar appearance and process, but they're quite different. It's essential to understand how, when, and where to use them, especially in renovations.
The differences between the two are not readily evident as both are applied in the same way with the same thickness and texture. But the main elements in each are what make them different from one another. Also, it's the homeowner who selects which one is best for his/her house. Installation of both requires professionals with experience and training. For each, it’s a smart idea to hire a stucco contractor or a plaster contractor.
Stucco Vs. Plaster: Key Differences
As mentioned earlier, it's the ingredients that make them different from one another. Both of them are made up of some kind of aggregate, usually sand of various textures and sizes. They require water to stir and mix everything together and start the curing process.
Another big difference is the binder. It's the binder that holds everything together and rehabilitates into its thick consistency. However, stucco will stand out more than plaster, is low maintenance, and will last as long if one takes care of it.
There will be two types of binders depending on the kind - gypsum or lime.
You may have heard of Plaster of Paris. Well, that's only gypsum plaster. Ever wondered where it got the nickname? In the 1700s, Paris was built on top of the largest gypsum deposits in the world. Most of the plaster came from Paris, so the name stuck. Gypsum cures fast and sets even faster, which is why it's used for broken limbs. Also, it doesn't require horsehair to strengthen it.
These are the interior plasters which aren’t typically meant for exterior use because they tend to deteriorate abruptly if exposed to water repeatedly.
Lime was the principal binder in any plaster. Lime plaster is a strenuous mixture of water and lime. Once it's thoroughly mixed, we have to wait for the lime to get saturated before the sand is added. It also requires horsehair or a similar synthetic material to help strengthen the walls. Lime plaster takes a lot of time to cure fully, sometimes up to a whole year before the walls can be painted.
It's a render of Portland cement, water, and sand used for exterior coating. Occasionally lime is added for durability. It's low maintenance and can appear alluring for years when taken care of. Hiring stucco contractors to perform a stucco service has the following advantages.
1. Covers stains
You might have noticed water and rust stains in vertical lines on walls or beneath the window panes. Hence, by painting stucco, it'll cover and block such stains, so they won't reappear for years.
2. Seals out moisture
After it rains, concrete absorbs water and becomes darker until dry. When you paint concrete with it, it completely seals the material so moisture won't penetrate it. This will allow the color to remain bright even after heavy rainfall.
3. Resistance from UV rays
If you live in a sunny climate, there's a possibility that UV rays might reduce the durability of your exterior concrete. This will lead to structural damage and cracks in brickwork. Thus, by painting over it with this material, it'll keep the outer part of walls insulated and protected from UV rays. Occasionally this may require some stucco repair, however, this is way less laborious than repairing concrete.
4. Fills cracks
It will become a huge problem quickly if you have lots of cracks in your concrete. When left unpainted, small pieces of concrete will pop out and will require costly repairs. Thus, repainting with high-quality stucco can fill up these cracks naturally.
How Often Stucco Requires Painting
This material requires painting periodically. This is a necessary step in stucco repair. Its longevity depends on the environment, but if applied correctly, it can last over twenty years without blistering or peeling. Examine your exterior every couple of years to determine when it requires repainting.