Do Stucco

Stucco has been used in construction for centuries. Traditionally, stucco walls were made with lime, sand and water, or other combinations that included limestone and salt. Today's stucco is created from a mixture of Portland cement, sand, lime and water. Stucco wall treatment is often applied when the existing walls or ceilings are cracked or marred. The paint is applied in a way that covers the surface, often in a circular, wave or cross-hatched pattern. You will need a large number of materials and plenty of time to prepare and stucco a surface. This article will tell you how to do stucco.


Prepping Your Wall

  1. Remove paintings, rugs and anything that isn't too heavy to carry from the area around the place you plan to stucco. Remove furniture if you are going to stucco a ceiling. Cover everything with drop cloths and secure them with painter's tape or masking tape.
  2. Wash the surface with a mixture of household detergent and warm water. Apply the cleanser with a sponge inside, or with a sprayer on outside walls. Rinse thoroughly with warm water and allow the surfaces to dry completely.
    • Stucco won't adhere to the walls as well if dust and other grime is present. Clean it thoroughly to help the adhesive cement stick better to your wall.
  3. Protect faceplates, fixtures, window sills and other paneling with painter's tape. Take your time to ensure that your tape is straight and it will create a more professional look.
  4. Fill gouges, holes and cracks with spackling compound. You can apply the compound, which is available in hardware stores, using a putty knife or a paint scraper. Allow the compound to dry for at least 8 hours before beginning your stucco job.

Choosing the Stucco

  1. Choose stucco or textured paint from a hardware or paint store. If you hope to cover up a lot of blemishes with the stucco finish, then you will need to buy a larger quantity of thick stucco paint. For a thick stucco coat, it will only cover approximately 25 square feet (2.3 square m) per gallon (3.8 l).
    • Ask the paint associate what they recommend for your particular job specifications. They may be able to recommend the best options for your stucco needs and help to supply you with the tools needed to complete the job, since stucco requires more tools than traditional painting.
    • When purchasing stucco paint for outdoor surfaces, you can choose fine, medium or coarse sand stucco. Consult the paint specialists about which option would be best for your building.
  2. If you want, mix the stucco yourself. Stucco is usually made out of Portland cement, sand, hydrated lime, and water.[1] Although some stucco recipes will differ, you can do pretty well by mixing up a simple ratio of 4:12:1 (cement to sand to lime), and then adding enough water, slowly, to get the stucco to the consistency of wet peanut butter.
    • If you want to, add some mortar color to the mixed stucco to approximate the color of the surrounding stucco. This will make it easier to color the newly-patched stucco and blend it in to the existing stucco, although you want still need to color the whole wall later on if the colors don't match seamlessly.
  3. If you're doing a small job and only need to patch up stucco, consider getting pre-mixed stucco patch. Pre-mix stucco patch can come in either textured or un-textured form, and comes ready to go, for ease of application. If you're only patching up a slight area and don't want to spend a lot of time mixing, this might be the right way to go.

Applying the Stucco to the Wall

  1. Spread some stucco on a sheet of plywood to experiment with the kind of texture you would like to create. The following are common kinds of stucco finishes, each of you may want to try before deciding:
    • Use only a roller to create a stippled effect. This is not the best option if you need to cover uneven or blemished walls.
    • Use a trowel to spread on the stucco paint in a thick, uneven pattern. This is commonly used for outside walls. This is the best option if you are trying to cover up a heavily marred surface.
    • Use a sponge to create a square pattern. You can dip the sponge in the paint and apply it directly to a surface, then repeat in a geometrical or random pattern.
    • Use a stiff brush or a comb to create "draw" onto the stucco or textured paint once it has been applied. You can draw waves, stripes, cross hatches or circles.
  2. Prep your wall to receive the stucco. Give your stucco the best chance to adhere to your wall by prepping your surface first. Of course, how you prep your surface depends on what kind of wall you have:
    • For concrete, brick, or block walls: Apply a coat of concrete bonding agent onto the wall. Allow it to dry completely before moving on to the next step.
    • For wood walls: Nail roofing felt over the wall, also called "building wraps" or "stucco wraps." Then, cover with 17-gauge metal netting, which comes in 150-foot (45 m) rolls. Nail the netting to the felt using galvanized roofing nails.
  3. Apply the scratch coat of stucco using a trowel and a hawk, if necessary. The scratch coat is the first layer of stucco, usually applied to a wire mesh lath, which is then scraped. These scrapes provide teeth for the next coat of stucco to hold onto. Whether you decide on a scratch coat depends largely on how much wall you want to stucco: Doing a whole wall probably requires a scratch coat, while intermittent patches probably don't.
    • Shoot for the scratch coat to be about 3/8-inch thick.
    • Score the scratch coat horizontally with a ½-inch notched trowel when the stucco is firm, but not yet dry.[2] This scoring is what gives the scratch coat its distinctive name, and allows it to bite and hold the next layer of stucco properly.
  4. Apply the second coat, also known as the brown coat or leveling coat. Again, try to get it so that it's about 3/8-inch thick. If working out in the sun, be sure to periodically spray the coat with a light mist of water to keep the brown coat workable.
  5. Go over the brown coat with a darbie or feather edge to smooth it. Wet your darbie first. Next, get your darbie true and plumb to an even point on the wall (use your drip-screen, perhaps), and then use the darbie to smooth out the surface of the brown coat.
    • Once your brown coat is true and plumb, wait 7 to 10 days for the coat to dry. Any cracks, shrinkage, or imperfections should manifest during this time, giving you the opportunity to correct them before applying the last coat of stucco.
  6. Apply the finish coat, texturing or "floating" the stucco as desired. The finish coat of a stucco wall should be pretty thin, about 1/8-inch thickness. This is where you blend in the texture of the new stucco to the old stucco, if necessary, or create a whole new texture if you're starting from scratch. You have some options about how you want to apply the finish coat:
    • Mix your finish coat with a little extra water to get it soupy. Then use a "dash" brush to spray or flick the watery finishing coat onto the brown coat. This is called a dash finish,
    • "Float" the finish coat with a hard rubber float. Move the float in a circular motion, pressing hard against the stucco.
    • Give the stucco finish a style of your choosing by using a sponge, a towel, a brush, etc., imbuing the coat with your own pattern.



  • Consider hiring contractors to apply stucco if you are doing a large project. They can apply the stucco considerably faster than doing it yourself.
  • If you apply pre-mixed stucco paint, the store can often customize your color, just as they would with regular paint. This is not available when you mix stucco at home.
  • It is a good idea to use pre-mixed stucco paint if you are not a professional painter. Mixing it yourself can be difficult and result in a job with a poor finish.
  • If you are applying stucco outside, choose an overcast day to apply it to walls with southern exposure.
  • To achieve a smooth finish on outdoor stucco, wait until the stucco is almost dry. Dip a large sponge in water and smooth it across the surface from the corners in.

Things You'll Need

  • Drop cloths
  • Paint scraper
  • Trowel
  • Stiff brush
  • Comb
  • Ladder
  • Paint roller
  • Painter's tape
  • Stucco or textured paint
  • Bucket
  • Detergent
  • Water
  • Sponge
  • Spackling
  • Plywood sheet
  • Putty knife

Sources and Citations

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