How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manfuactured and modular homes

What is the average life expectancy of stucco?

Friday, July 27, 2018

How long does stucco last? 

Stucco over concrete block has an estimated lifespan of 60 to 80 years or more, with an average of 70 years, and stucco over a backer board or metal lath on a wood frame wall should last 50 to 70 years, with an average of 60 years. But both estimates are based on doing three maintenance projects regularly: Repaint and caulk every 7 to 10 years. Repair and touchup caulk around doors and windows midway between repainting. Walk along the walls and check for hairline cracks at least once a year, then use a masonry caulk to repair.

     “And when you do your caulking, I recommend paying $5 to $7 a tube,” says Jeff Moser, of Southern Style Plastering & Stucco, in Alachua, Florida. “Good caulk is important."

    So, how do you know when your stucco is at the end of its lifespan? “Look for areas of de-lamination, blistering, and also stain streaks down the surface—indicating a problem behind it,” according to Jeff. You have probably already seen a simulation of failing stucco at your favorite Italian restaurant as part of the decor: a ragged patch of missing wall surface with brick showing through and a few cracks around it. 

   You can call it Old World Charm when Chianti bottles are hanging in front of it, but on your own house that’s a problem. If you see defects developing in your wall surface, an experienced stucco contractor can evaluate them for you to determine whether repairs to the area or total replacement is necessary.

    EIFS (Exerior Insulated Finishing System) has a similar life expectancy to stucco over wood frame. To learn more about his material, see our article What is the difference between EIFS and stucco? 

    And here’s a bar graph that compares the life expectancy of stucco to other types of residential siding.
    Go to our blog post What is the average lifespan of the parts of a house? for rating of other house components. To understand the basis, potential use, and limitations of lifespan ratings, see our blog post ”How accurate are the average life expectancy ratings of home components? Are they actually useful?  

    Also, we recommend reading Why is my stucco cracking?


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To learn more about exterior walls and structures, see these other blog posts:

What is the average lifespan of a house foundation?

What causes vertical cracks in fiber cement siding planks?

What causes raised white lines of residue on a block wall that are crusty and crumbling? 

What is the difference between soil subsidence, heave, creep, and settlement? 

How much ventilation is required for the under-floor crawl space of a home? 

 What causes stair-step cracks in a block or brick wall?

What causes a horizontal crack in a block or brick wall? 

How can I tell if a diagonal crack in drywall at the corner of a window or door indicates a structural problem?

What causes the surface of old bricks to erode away into sandy powder? 

What are the pros and cons of concrete block versus wood frame construction?

Should I buy a house with a crawl space? 

There's cracks running along the home's concrete tie beam. What's wrong? 

What would cause long horizontal lines of brick mortar to fall out?

How do I recognize serious structural problems in a house?

What is engineered wood siding?

Should I buy a house that has had foundation repair? 

What is a "continuous load path”?

Should I buy a house with asbestos siding?   

How can I tell if cracks in the garage floor are a problem or not? 

What do you look for when inspecting vinyl siding?

Why is housewrap installed on exterior walls under the siding? 

How do I recognize serious structural problems in a house?

Why did so many concrete block homes collapse in Mexico Beach during Hurricane Michael? 

How can I tell if the concrete block walls of my house have vertical steel and concrete reinforcement?

Should I buy a house with structural problems? 

What are those powdery white areas on my brick walls?

What causes cracks in the walls and floors of a house?

How can I tell if the exterior walls of a house are concrete block (CBS) or wood or brick?

What are the common problems of different types of house foundations? 

• What are the warning signs of a dangerous deck?

How can I tell whether my house foundation problems are caused by a sinkhole or expansive clay soil?

    Visit our LIFE EXPECTANCY and EXTERIOR WALLS AND STRUCTURE pages for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles. 

NOTE: These life expectancies are based on data provided by InterNACHI, NAHB, FannieMae, and our own professional experience. Because of the numerous variables that can affect a lifespan, they should be used as rough guidelines only, and not relied upon as a warranty or guarantee of future performance.

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