What are common problems with stucco?

Saturday, January 18, 2020

There are three kinds of wall finishes that are commonly called “stucco,” and each has its own particular issues. To know how to tell the difference, go to our blog post Do stucco walls mean a house is concrete block? 

1) Stucco over wood frame - When a house is wood-stud frame, the stucco is applied in three coats over expanded wire mesh which is separated from the wall sheathing by a moisture barrier—typically Tyvek or a similar material, or roofing felt. This is also called hard-coat stucco. Because the wood wall framing and the stucco have different rates of expansion/contraction, the stucco must be properly installed with expansion joints and correct flashings to accomodate it. When not installed correctly, any cracks let moisture into the wood framing and rot follows. See our blog post Why is my stucco cracking? for more on this.

2) EIFS (Exterior Insulated Finishing System) - Also called synthetic stucco, it is essentially a foamboard and fiberglass mesh attached to wall sheathing that is covered with a polymer-based material, and then textured to look like stucco. It is an alternative to hard-coat stucco. Go to our blog post What is the difference between EIFS and stucco? for more info on the materials and the recurring problems it has.

3) Stucco over concrete block - This is the most stable type of stucco and least likely to have a problem. All stucco finishes will develop fine cracks over time, but the underlying concrete block can absorb and disspate minor moisture intrusion without damage to the structure. Adhesion issues may occur if the stucco is not applied in the three required coats and at the correct thickness. Cracks should be be repaired and openings at windows and doors caulked on a regular schedule.

   All three types of stucco will crack when the house is experiencing structural movement due to foundation problems or a sinkhole. If you are experiencing more than minor cracking in your stucoo, we suggest reading How can I tell if a crack in a stucco wall is a structural problem and what is causing it? and What are the warning signs of a sinkhole? 

   By the way, stucco is also applied over solid-concrete wall houses, like the one shown below, and has a similar low level of problems to concrete block.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Here’s links to a collection of some of our other blog posts about STUCCO:

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

What is the difference between Acrocrete and EIFS? 

What is the average life expectancy of stucco? 

 • Is the stucco on a wood frame house allowed to extend down into the ground? 

Does stucco need expansion joints?

    Visit our EXTERIOR WALLS & STRUCTURES page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manfuactured and modular homes






Air Conditioner & Furnace Age/Size



Aging in Place


Click Below  

for Links

to Collections

of Blog Posts

by Subject


Doors and Windows


Energy Efficiency

Fireplaces and Chimneys

Heating and Air Conditioning

Home Inspection

Hurricane Resistance

Electrical Receptacle Outlets

Electrical Panels

Garages and Carports

Common Problems

Exterior Walls & Structures



Life Expectancy

Mobile/Manufactured Homes

Older and Historic Houses

Mold, Lead & Other Contaminants

Modular Homes

Metal Roofs



Pool and Spa

Roof and Attic




"Should I Buy A..."


Termites, Wood Rot & Pests

Structure and Rooms


Water Heaters

Water Heater Age

Septic Tank Systems

Plumbing Pipes


When It First Became Code

Park Model Homes

Shingle Roofs


Wind Mitigation Form

"Does A Home


"What Is The Difference Between..."


Concrete and Concrete Block


Rain Gutters


Crawl Spaces

Building Permits

Clay Soil




HUD-Code for Mobile Homes

Flat Roofs

Sprinkler Systems

4-Point Inspections

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Building Codes

Inspector Licensing

& Standards

Washers and Dryers



Electrical Wiring

Plumbing Drains and Traps

Smoke & CO Alarms

Top 5 results given instantly.

Click on magnifying glass

for all search results.