How To Repair Water Damaged Stucco
Stucco is known for being a durable, attractive, and resistant siding material, so knowing how to repair water damaged stucco is unnecessary, right?
Unfortunately, that answer is no. Stucco is an ideal building material for those who prefer durability and variety in colors. While it boasts great resistance to various environmental threats, it can still fall victim to unchecked water damage.
As we’ve just mentioned, stucco is a durable siding material, so how does it actually get damaged?
Causes of Stucco Water Damage
Knowing the causes of stucco water damage can help you and prevent significant stucco restoration projects. There are four main causes of stucco water damage.
An incorrect mixture or composition of the stucco is the biggest cause of stucco water damage. The proper mixing of a well-balanced stucco includes the right amount of cement, sand, and water. Using an improperly measured mixture means your stucco’s integrity is not as it should be.
Choosing a reputable contractor for your stucco application ensures they have the knowledge and skill set to properly follow national regulations.
Even perfectly mixed stucco can be poorly applied. Stucco needs time for curing during the application process. If the curing process is rushed, it can cause permanent weaknesses in your stucco.
Rushing the curing process is not the only way to botch stucco application. It is well known that stucco requires three coats to achieve the desired results: the scratch coat, the brown coat, and the finish coat. All three coats should be free of breaks. Attempting to cover up a break in a lower coat will work in the short term but increases the likelihood of long-term issues.
The application of stucco also requires the installation of a metal or wooden lath. A lath is a backing for materials like stucco that provides the stucco with the surface and space to form a strong bond. Applying stucco on a wooden lath can leave your property more susceptible to future water damage.
Stress cracks are cracks that appear due to outside forces such as earthquakes or strong winds. They can also be caused by direct impact or expansion and contraction.
Unfortunately, if you’re not a deity, stress cracks are not easily preventable, but secondary water damage through the cracks is. Proper observation and maintenance of your stucco can be the difference between a small fix and a major reconstruction.
Flashing has quite a few meanings in English. In construction, it refers to the “weatherproofing” or the thin material installed along joints to prevent water penetration. Considering its intended purpose, it’s no surprise that incorrectly installed flashing can lead to water damage.
Flashing is often made of metal, meaning corrosion is also a concern. Regular maintenance visits will keep you up to date on the condition of your building’s materials.
Signs of Stucco Leaks
Not all leaks show up looking like a waterfall. So how exactly does a leak in your stucco present itself?
Identifying leaks early on can save you both significant time and money down the road. Here are some of the most common signs that you have a leaky stucco on your home.
Stained or damp looking stucco
Contaminants brought by rain water that seeps into the stucco can cause stains. Aside from the unsightly effect on the stucco, these contaminants can lead to the deterioration and breakdown of the material.
Sometimes, stains give the appearance of damp stucco. It is natural that stucco is damp after rain, but after a few dry days, your stucco should no longer look wet. If it does, it most likely indicates a leak somewhere in the area.
Since moisture is the major cause of mold formation, questionable mold formation is a direct indication of unwanted moisture (aka a leak).
If mold is present, the first place to check for trouble should be the windows and flashing as they are both common leak locations due to their installation.
In addition to the mold, improper mold treatment can cause the material to further deteriorate. The cause of the mold should be addressed before the elimination of mold to prevent further damage to the stucco.
Cracks in stucco siding
Unlike the web-like cracks caused by improper installation, cracks that are large, obvious, or hairline-like are indicators of water damage in stucco sidings. When ignored, these cracks can lead to mold formation and stains.
Water damage cracks may also appear as missing chips and chunks, a situation that will further worsen the condition of water damaged stucco.
Window caulk gaping and cracking
Window caulk is another common location to find cracks. Since windows are the most common entry point of water, especially when improperly installed, the visible damage to caulking is an indication of water intrusion.
Cracks and bubbles along the bottom edge of the wall
Another flag-raising crack is one found along the bottom edge of a wall. These long cracks are indicators of water damage caused by poor drainage which is likely affecting your stucco as well.
Soft insides of the drywall below the window
Not all signs are easily visible. It’s smart to do a touch test in at-risk places. If your stucco feels soft or moveable, it’s an indication of water problems within the drywall already causing internal damage.
What To Do with Water Damaged Stucco
Now that you know the causes and signs of a water damaged stucco, here is what you can do to fix the problem.
Address the cause of the water damage
The initial step should always be to address the root of the water problem. Since water damaged stucco is just a result of an ignored water problem, fixing the signs will not prevent the problem from reoccurring. Find the cause of the water damage and resolve it before starting the repairs.
Remove the affected region
For minor repairs, remove the damaged section just as you would remove damaged drywall or rotted wood. Break off the loose parts with a hammer or a cold chisel.
When you start removing the affected areas, make sure that your eyes are protected and that you will not damage the lath. You can always chip away at the edges until you reach the layer that is still intact.
Patch the affected area
When patching up the area, be sure to use a mixture of stucco similar to that already-applied.
Remember the three coats
The reapplication of stucco should be done in the same manner as the original application, including the three different coats. This ensures its durability and protects from future damage.
The first new coat should also have an acrylic bonding agent to improve the adhesion of the new mixture to the old stucco.
Seek professional help
Asking an expert to repair the water damage is the best decision, especially if it is extensive and beyond your capacity to fix.
If You Suspect Water Damage, Call Us Today
Five Star Restoration is a locally owned and respected restoration company certified in water, mold, fire, and smoke damage repair as well as crime scene and trauma cleanup.
Water damaged stucco doesn’t have to be a scary situation, not when your experts are just a phone call away. Call us today at (951) 368-2227 for a free quote or to schedule a consultation.
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