Since ages, stucco has been a popular building material on account of its versatility. When applied to the exterior walls, it helps to make the structure strong. This in turn will increase its durability. The main components of stucco are sand, cement, lime and water which make it a fireproof and waterproof material. It remains unaffected by mold and mildew and thus capable of providing protection to the building from different types of weather elements. It does not cost you much and has a very low maintenance.
Preparation of the Wall
The exterior walls of any building are subjected to a lot of wear and tear. All the elements like dirt, grime old paint and mold should be removed from its surface. The right method of cleaning them is power-washing. If the walls are left in neglected condition for a long time, then sandblasting should be done to clean them up. Check out for the holes and cracks on them. Once they are identified, take necessary measures to repair the damages. If the wall is made of concrete or cinder block or brick, then a coat of concrete bonding agent should be applied on it. In case it is a wood wall, roofing felt has to be fixed on it and a metal netting is nailed over it.
Application of the First Coat
Both cement and lime are caustic substances and hence, when these materials are handled, you have to protect yourself with hand gloves and protective glasses. Fix two strips of thick wood lath at the top and bottom of the wall. This will help you to obtain a uniform thickness while leveling the surface. It is always advisable to apply stucco on a moist surface. So, spray some water on the wall, before you start applying the base coat on it.
Apply the first coat with the help of a trowel. Start the application from the bottom of the wall and move upwards. The coat should be evenly spread over the entire area with a consistent thickness of 3/8 inches. Put adequate pressure with the trowel so that the stucco gets into the uneven surfaces of the wall. However, take care that you do not overly use the trowel as it may cause bonding problems in the future.
Wait for a few minutes, and then start the leveling work, when the stucco is still wet. You can use metal or wood straightedge for this purpose. Put the straightedge on the wood lath and drag it across the wall with up and down motions so that all the excess materials stuck on the surface are removed. If you see any dents, fill it up and level it once again. After the leveling job is complete, take out both the wood laths carefully without making any damage to the stucco.
Giving the Finishing Touch
When the stucco has hardened up slightly, it is time to float the surface. Take a mason's float and move it over the wall in circular motions. This is done to reduce the possibility of any kind of shrinkage or cracking that usually occurs once the stucco dries up. Let it dry for almost two days. During this time, keep sprinkling some water on it now and then to keep it slightly moist. After two days, apply the finish coat of stucco in the same way as you applied the first coat. This time, keep the coat as thin as 1/8 inch. If you wish, you can add some texture to its surface. The texture of a rough, but uniform surface can be obtained by rubbing the finish coat with a brush. It takes almost 6-7 weeks to cure the stucco thoroughly. After that, you can paint it, but select a paint which is suitable for concrete.
Now that you know how to install stucco, you can start the job on your own and change the look of the exterior walls of your house. Keep in mind that you have to follow the instructions given in this article, to get the kind of finish that you expect from the professionals.