Not just for the southwest anymore, this distinctive exterior is catching on across the country. Find out if it’s right for your home.
Stucco siding, a type of hand-troweled masonry plaster consisting of cement, water, and sand, is a definitive feature of Spanish and Mediterranean architecture. These stucco homes feature exteriors in a variety of textures from pebbled to sweeping swirls to virtually smooth, depending on application technique, and provide durable protection against the elements. But this type of masonry does have its downsides, and it isn’t appropriate for every property. So whether your house-hunting has drawn you to this particular look, you’re considering re-siding your home in stucco, or you want to maintain the stucco exterior you’ve already got, read on for a crash course.
STUCCO HISTORY AND GROWING POPULARITY
The earliest stucco contained lime instead of cement, and because its ingredients are easily found in nature, it’s one of the oldest natural types of siding around, dating back to ancient Greece. Spaniards are thought to have introduced stucco to Mexico and the American southwest, creating rock-hard walls by applying the mixture over stick-, stone-, or timber-framing.
With the mass production of dry cement in the early 1900s, stucco siding entered a new era. Cement increased the workability of stucco, with longer drying times allowing builders greater freedom. Yet the southwest remained the perfect place for stucco, thanks to arid conditions and high sand content that made the soil stable.
Attempts at installing traditional stucco in climates farther north and east met with mixed results. In regions where the soil moved, causing house foundations to settle, cracks appeared in the stucco that allowed rain to penetrate and loosen the siding from its sheathing. Today, the addition of polymers and other agents for increased flexibility, along with refined application techniques, have improved stucco’s resilience, making it a growing choice throughout the United States.