Frequently Asked Questions

Stucco is a type of exterior plaster applied as a two or three part coating directly onto masonry, or applied over a wood framed structure. Stucco is a material made of an aggregate, a binder, and water. Stucco is applied wet and hardens to a very dense and durable solid wall surface.
No stucco is water resistant — water will penetrate the building envelope but a properly installed moisture controlled system will work well as a weather barrier and prevent the water from being trapped behind the stucco causing leaks and structural damage. Moisture controlled systems have a drainage plane or rain screen behind the lath to allow water to escape from the wall.
The rain screen is installed behind the lath and on top of the weather resistant barrier and provides a capillary break to prohibit moisture transfer, provides a space for water to drain, and provides a means of ventilation so the wood composites of the wall can dry. Apex Contractors uses Fortifiber Jumbo Tex 60 Weather Resistive Barriers (WRB) and Keane Drainage Mats on all project to guarantee and exceed compliance to all local building codes and assure that there will be no moisture intrusion through to the wall sheathing.
A critical location where moisture can do considerable damage in a very short time frame is where the lower roof cornice stops in the middle of a stucco wall or in the chimney area. Kickout Flashings / Diverters are needed here and should be properly sized to handle the flow of water run from a variety of roof pitches. Apex Contractors will also evaluate the gutter locations to insure that they are in the proper places to evacuate the water away from these critical locations and prevent further deterioration.
A three coat stucco system consist of the first layer of cement which is applied directly over the wire lath, and is commonly called the “scratch coat” because a notched trowel is used to create a rough surface to facilitate bonding to the next coat. This layer is allowed to cure for 2 days before the application of the second layer of cement, commonly known as the “brown coat”. The brown coat is troweled smoother than the scratch coat, and covers all lath and corner aids and other accessories completely. After this material has cured for 7 days the color coat is applied. Total thickness is 7/8 inch – 3/8 inch each of the scratch and brown coats and 1/8 inch on the color coat.
We would recommend that you never power or pressure wash stucco. Like concrete and masonry, stucco is porous. And if there is staining in specific areas it usually means there are other underlining problems causing the stain. Once a formal inspection is done and there proves to be no other problems causing the discoloration there are specific methods Apex can use to clean your stucco, none of which involve the use of high pressure water directly aimed at the wall surface.
Only after a complete façade inspection and if there are no underlining construction issues which have caused the appearance of the stucco to “age prematurely” as well as all the caulking around the windows and all other penetrations are closed off and all termination points at dissimilar materials are sealed tight. There are Portland Cement based paints that are compatible with stucco because they are made of the same material. When utilized on your project, Apex Contractors will scrub these paints into the surface and will allow them to fully cure. Again caution needs to be used before this process is done. Many contractors will use acrylic paints claiming that they are long lasting and extremely resistant to dirt and stains. This may be true but it also changes the permeability of the stucco (makes it non-breathable) which in turn may have adverse effects on the long term performance of the system be it traditional stucco or EFIS.
We would need to evaluate the installation method that was used. Stucco can be installed below grade as long as a weep screen is used where the framing meets the top of the foundation wall and there is a break of the system. This will allow any water to drain from the wall system and not be wicked up to the framing. In addition, where stucco is applied below grade, there must be a clear definition of where the grade should be. Many times, especially on the front of the house, we see the grade so high that it is up against the first floor framing causing a guaranteed rot situation. Once all these conditions are verified the stucco can then be installed directly on the concrete or block foundation wall provided the proper construction methodology is used and the foundation waterproofing is enhanced and not violated.
Apex Contractors using only fully trained, hand selected and certified restoration technicians, not your typical builder production crews as many of our competition do. Our highly trained and experienced teams are the best in the industry. We supply our own dumpsters for removal of the old material and other debris. They are smaller than the typical dumpsters you see on construction projects and painted black as not to be “overwhelming” in front of your house. These dumpsters will be placed on protective materials so that your driveway and service walks are protected from any damages during the restoration. If necessary, we will bring in other experts – landscapers, electricians, etc. to assist our team to insure that your landscaping, electrical connections and other details are not compromised or damaged. We will coordinate these trades so you don’t have to, and it will all be included in your proposal so that we can minimize any surprises during construction.
Hardie Plank is a fantastic material and Apex Contractors are certified installers. We have installed literally thousands of linear feet of this material. How you choose to clad your home after the remediation process is a matter of preference. We do see many customers restoring the original materials on the front of the house and then switching out the sides and rear of the house to Hardie Plank. Again a matter of preference, but you need to understand that some style homes lend themselves to a stucco finish due to the way the windows were installed and trimmed as well as structural detail issues the house may have …such as turrets, wall shapes, multi-story window walls etc. Hardie Plank is a very durable product but also made of cement, and some of the same installation techniques as with stucco need to be used. A rain screen is a critical component to allow the moisture to escape and air to dry out the siding if it does get damp. Hardie Plank has very detailed installation instructions and all need to be followed to have a problem free installation. It is offered with a 30-year non-prorated warranty provided the total installation complies with their requirements. Needless to say, we have also remediated Hardie Plank houses that violated these requirements as well as standard construction practices. It is very important to understand that stucco, done right, is every bit as durable as all other claddings. But at the end of the day, it is a matter of personal preference as well as architectural style.
Faux Stone has been increasing in popularity on many homes. It needs to be treated the same as stucco and maybe it should have more attention directed to it. Faux stone must drain, as is true with any cladding system, but with this product it is especially important because all those chunks of concrete hold a lot of water. If the water can’t drain, it’s more likely to get sucked into the framed wall than it is to evaporate to the outside. If the same procedures are not followed and a rain screen not installed we see failure occurring at a faster rate than with three coat stucco. In our opinion there is a greater need to pay closer attention to the stone areas of your house. Understand that with dark color stone it is sometimes very difficult to see staining and discoloration than on a light smooth stucco surface. This factor may allow the moisture intrusion to advance to a further state of rot before it is caught and remediated. Also, many times the required expansion joints and weep screeds are not installed as they are on a stucco application.
Most importantly, it is critical that you contract with only a professionally trained and certified company to perform these tests on your walls. Apex does not do moisture intrusion analysis since we feel it is critical that you have an independent third party report. We have a group of these professionals that we will recommend. They are the “best of the rest”, and very fair and comprehensive. There are many different methods and tools that can be used to identify potential trouble spots. Regardless of how suspect areas are identified, you cannot know exactly how much moisture is trapped without penetrating the stucco and directly measuring the moisture content of the building materials inside. An intrusive probe is required for the determination of specific moisture content. The level of moisture content of the homes substrate including recent weather conditions, will lead us to a determination of how we need to address the issue in each affected area.

Apex Stucco Repair and Remediation

We provide stucco, stone veneer, masonry and fiber cement siding removal, remediation, repairs, replacement, installation, and rehabilitation as well as treatment for stucco damaged from water penetration. We are also experts in sealants, permeable coatings, rot repairs, flashing installation, mortar joint repairs and replacements, window caulking and we offer R/E Broker support with invasive probing results and alternatives for stucco and adhered stone facades.
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