Painting Stucco

Submitted by Scott on Mon, 2011-02-21 19:14

Painting stucco has become quite a common practise in recent years.  Many of the colours that were popular in the 90's are now dated and being changed to improve curb appeal.  While it is rare that stucco needs to be coated coating stucco does offer the opportunity to repair cracks and damaged areas.  This article will give you a brief overview of the stucco coating process.

As with any painting project the preparation is half the task.  Stucco is one of the easiest surfaces to prepare as its porous nature provides a great surface for the paint to bond to.  A simple power wash will remove the majority of dust and dirt that have settled on your home.  Starting at the top and working down is the best approach and you'll probably be surprised just how much dust comes off with a wash.

After the surface is clean repairing any damaged areas is the next step.  Using a small bead of caulking to fill cracks is recommended.  Caulking is inexpensive so spring for the good stuff.  A good 35 year silicone acrylic at the very least.  Just be sure that the caulking in paintable to avoid adhesion problems later.

If you have any areas where the stucco is falling off this is the ideal time to repair it.  I highly recommend going to a specialty supplier to get a professional stucco mix.  Unfortunately, just like with paint, the big-box home improvement stores usually don't carry a very good product.  You'll pay more this way but it will be worth it when you don't have to re-patch the area a year or two later.  Mimicking the existing stucco pattern is tricky and takes a bit of practise.  I use a couple different sized putty knives and trowels ranging from 2" to 9" depending on the size of the patch.  Just remember that you have a bit of time to work with it and if it doesn't look right don't be afraid to scrape it off and start over.

With the surface ready you'll need to decide which product to use.  Some people will insist on using an elastomeric paint and there is nothing wrong with that.  Elastomeric is a very thick paint that is designed to bridge small cracks in the stucco and provide a flexible, breathable coating.  Although this can be beneficial in commercial applications I personally don't recommend it for residential homes. The thickness of the product can make it difficult to apply and sometimes the colours available are limited.  Add to this that the majority of readily available elastomeric products are considered 'commercial grade', meaning lower quality, and I have a hard time recommending them to my customers.  

On a residential home the most important consideration is usually how the paint looks on the home.  A high quality acrylic-latex is usually more than durable enough, less expensive and will look better for longer.  I do emphasize the high quality part.  Benjamin Moore's Aura line of paints delivers outstanding results but is on the expensive side.  If you can justify the cost I highly recommend it.  Another personal favorite is ICI's Diamond series.  It is classified as a semi-elastomeric coating so it is a bit thicker than most acrylic-latex paints.  It also incorporates ceramic technologies which make the coating more durable and harder to chip.  There are other semi-elastomeric coatings available but in my experience these two lead the pack currently.

I'm sure, however, this article will be around long after the current technology is obsolete so your best bet is to check around with your local suppliers and contractors to see what they recommend.  Different climates require different considerations and suppliers vary by area.  Considering whatever you put on your home will likely be there for the next ten to twenty years a little research can go a long way.

To apply the coating you can either use a brush and roller or sprayer.  A brush and roller is simple to use and leaves less to go wrong, just be prepared to go through a lot of roller sleeves.  I recommend using the thickest pile (the fluffiest) roller you can find.  A 30 mil roller sleeve is commonly available and should do the job.  Painting stucco this way is a tedious process but for an inexperienced painter is probably the best option.

 If you choose to use a sprayer make sure everything is covered.  In dry climates the overspray can easily travel 10+ feet, in humid climates it can be further.  It's not uncommon for us to spend 2 or 3 times as long masking and covering a house as it does for us to spray.  When spraying be sure to cover the surface from every angle.  Usually we will apply two coats, one in the up/down direction, and one left/right.  Backrolling can also be done to ensure a consistent coat but isn't always necessary.  The spray tip you use will also make a big difference.  Most products will have  a recommended tip size on the can which typically vary from a .517 to .523 for acrylic coatings.  The higher the number the more it will apply and the thicker the coating can be.  As long as your sprayer can handle it a bigger tip will speed up the process.  Just be sure not to apply the coating too thick and prevent the paint from suring properly.

Voila!  Follow these simple steps and your house should be looking good for a long time.  Be sure to read the label for any product-specific directions and you'll be in great shape.  Happy Painting!

Scott Appleby has been a professional painter since 2002 and currently operates a franchise of Appleby Painting Ltd. in Calgary, AB. A self-professed 'paint geek' he has trained over 20 people how to paint.
He can be contacted at 403-607-2225 or infoatapplebypainting [dot] ca

Add comment


Good informational post..

Submitted by MichaelCurnow on Tue, 2016-09-20 23:25.

Firstly I would really like thank you on behalf of Bundaberg Painters for posting such educational stuff giving out complete details about painting stucco process which will be very much helpful for the new upcoming painters.

painting stucco

Submitted by Anonymous on Sat, 2015-10-24 13:37.

Thank you Scott for the tip. I am actually going to stucco a craft house so I needed to know about the paint and stucco.. Have a good day!!