Can Stucco be Applied to Wood

Michelle-Garcia-Headshot | October 2nd, 2021

The wooden house should have carefully applied stucco material. Creative Commons License Copyright-Only Dedication* (based on United States law)
or Public Domain Certification

Stucco and wood are important materials in construction. However, if you do not correctly manage the combination, it could result in a disaster. Most people do not understand how to use stucco on wood for the perfect finishing. This brings us to the mind-bugging question; can you apply stucco to wood? Yes, you can. However, it is not as simple as it may seem. In most cases, especially for a large product, you may need to hire the services of an expert. In this article, we shall explore the correct methods of applying stucco to wood.

What is Stucco?

Stucco is a finishing that you can apply to walls and surfaces like wood. You can use stucco as a finishing for interior or exterior surfaces. However, the types of stucco for each are significantly different. Stucco is a cement-based finishing that comes in various textures and colors. Stucco is made of the following raw materials:

  • Portland cement: this is the binding material that ensures the finishing sticks to the wood. 
  • Lime
  • Sand
  • Water
  • Polymers and other agents: they increase the durability of stucco. Therefore, a stucco finishing may last as long as 20 years.

Types of Stucco

Three coat system

The three-coat stucco system is a mixture of cement, fiberglass, sand, acrylic additives, and water. In this system, three layers are in place. The first layer consist of asphalt-infused paper, furred chicken wire, and stucco. You can apply a finish coat to give it the texture and color of your choice. The three-coat system is a traditional finishing for exterior wood frames.

Colorado-Best-Finished-Construction-Services-Thin-Brick-05
Two-coat system for brick walls.

Two coat system

The two-coat system comprises a traditional stucco mix. It is the preferred choice for concrete, block, and brick walls. Two layers of stucco are required to achieve this system of finishing. However, before applying the stucco, you need to apply some bonding adhesive instead of a metal lathe used in the one-coat system.

One coat system

This technique requires one layer of stucco. It is usually applied on a rigid foam board and lath to provide an excellent finishing. The one-coat system is a mixture of Portland cement, fibers, water, sand, and chemicals. In this method, you apply the stucco over the metal lathe. This is a relatively recent method of finishing. Hence you may need to be specific when hiring a contractor. 

Types of Wood Suitable for Stucco

In construction, the common types of wood are hardwood, softwood, and plywood (also known as engineered wood). Hardwoods are usually seen in exterior construction, while softwood is preferred for interior use. Softwood has a lower density than hardwood. This property allows you to put a nail in them without the risk of splitting, which makes them an excellent choice in construction. Plywood is engineered with binding resins and wood fiber which significantly increases the strength and stability.  

What Climate is Suitable for The Use of Stucco

Using stucco in a rainy area is not a clever idea – it leads to oversaturation over time. Creative Commons License CC2

One of the numerous reasons why people are increasingly using stucco is its durability. You can apply Stucco as a finishing to wood in a hot and cold climate because it can withstand extreme temperatures. The use of stucco is excellent in areas that are dry and sunny. However, stucco may be inappropriate for a building located in a rainy area or earthquake-prone. Stucco is water repellent, but in continuous rainfall, it may become brittle and degenerate. Constant rain, hail, or snow can damage stucco due to excess water absorption. Furthermore, the cost of installing stucco in a wet area may be very high.

Stucco has an exceptional insulating property. It protects the house from extreme changes in temperature and external noise. However, using stucco in a rainy area leads to oversaturation over time. When the stucco is oversaturated, the wood and other construction materials become wet and break down. 

In addition, violent shaking of the building, like during an earthquake, may cause a crack in the stucco. The crack on stucco because of shaking may require a substantial amount of money and materials to fix. High humidity or persistent rainfall significantly reduces the durability of stucco.

The final look of finished stucco. Creative Commons License CC4

Application of Stucco

The application of stucco is usually in layers. This makes it time-consuming and demanding. Hence an expert on the subject is needed. If you decide to do it yourself, you may not be patient enough to do it excellently. The first step in applying stucco is to cover the area with a vapor barrier. The next step is to prepare the wood surface by ensuring clean and free from all debris. Thirdly, you apply the adhesive material to the surface of the wood. Then you apply the desired layers of stucco and allow it to cure. Finally, you smoothen the finish coat. 

However, remember that the application of stucco varies depending on the desired stucco type, finish, and home structure.

Advantages of Stucco on Wood

Ease of maintenance

There are many advantages of using stucco materials on a wooden house. Creative Commons License CC2

Stucco is easy to maintain, hence an excellent choice. You can eliminate dirt on the finishing by doing pressure washing at least once in 12 months. Suppose there is a small crack; a sealant may be used to close it up.

Durability

A significant pro of investing in stucco is its durability. Stucco finishing can last anywhere between twenty and fifty years. However, it is crucial to maintain stucco to maintain its integrity. When the weather is unfavorable, stucco can expand and contract. This feature allows it to last longer. More so, stucco is resistant to mold, mildew, and rot. Hence this improves its durability.

Fire-retardant Properties

Another reason why stucco is a construction preference is for its fire-resistance properties. If you have a one-inch stucco coating, it can prevent the spread of fire from one side of the wall to the other for about an hour. This time frame might be useful in protecting lives and property. Therefore, stucco is highly recommended in family houses and areas where the houses are close together.

Sound reduction and Insulation

If you reside in a noisy area, then you may consider stucco finishing. It reduces sound transmission into the house. In addition, it also has insulating features. This is especially important in hot regions as it minimizes heat inflow into the house.

Disadvantages of Stucco on Wood

 Expensive to repair

A small break in stucco may not pose a problem. However, significant damage can be expensive to fix. The stucco you will use for repair has to be the same color and texture as the original one. In all, the process can be demanding in terms of time and money.

Rainy areas are not so suitable for using stucco materials. Creative Commons License Copyright-Only Dedication* (based on United States law)
or Public Domain Certification

Unsuitable for all Climates

In areas with high humidity, rainfall, or snow, the stucco can become oversaturated. Oversaturation causes moisture packets to form underneath the stucco. Therefore, the construction materials (wood) begins to degenerate due to excess moisture.

Expert Installation

Stucco is not the most effortless finishing to apply. Although some kits come with everything you need, it may only be wise on a small project. If you want to use stucco finishing on a large surface, you may need to hire an expert. However, the expert services are quite expensive.

Conclusion

Stucco is an outstanding finishing for wood. In an ideal environment, it is moisture-resistant, but that is not the case in a very wet area. Like in California, warm and dry climates are the best places to use stucco finishing to get the maximum benefits. However, it is best if you avoid it in a rainy area or one prone to earthquakes. Violent shaking of the ground can create hairline cracks on the stucco, which allows moisture to reach the wood.


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