Stucco is an extremely popular home siding because it is handsome and durable, offers texture, and is less costly than other high-end exteriors. According to Fixr.com, stucco typically costs $6 to $9 per square foot, compared with $11 to $15 for stone veneer, which has a similar look.
While it’s not a load-bearing material like cement or concrete, stucco can last for hundreds of years. But if you live in an older home with stucco, at some point you’ll need to know how to repair this mixture of Portland cement, sand, and hydrated lime.
Generally, here’s how damage creeps in: Water seeps beneath the stucco surface, causing chips and soft spots. Once the barrier has been breached, the walls can deteriorate, hairline cracks can appear—and then stucco repair becomes a must.
A stucco professional (yes, it exists) will charge $400 to $750 to repair the exterior of a 1,500-square-foot house. And if you seldom have to repair stucco or masonry, or work with cement, it’s worth the price because “the homeowner would have to buy all the supplies for a one-time job,” says Sharon Slade of D.L. Boyd, a Hyattsville, MD–based company that specializes in this type of repair. “A professional has all the supplies and know-how to get the repairs done.”
But if you have an older home that needs frequent exterior repair, you can do the work yourself with a little practice for a fraction of that price.
Stucco repair project overview
- Difficulty: Easy
- Timing: Less than an hour per patch
- Warnings: Wear gloves and eye protection when mixing or chipping
Equipment you’ll need
- Work gloves
- Eye protection
- Mason’s chisel
- Premixed stucco or a patching compound
- Notched trowel
- Plaster finishing trowel
- “Finishing” tool (e.g., whisk, sponge, piece of board)
Step 1: How to make DIY stucco
Stucco changes color over the years, so your new patch probably won’t match. But you can paint the new layer after installing, or buy coloring pigment to add to your mix to match the existing color. Mix small batches, add some pigment to the mix, then put it on a piece of cardboard, and allow it to dry. You will need to try different amounts of pigment until you match the color, and you will want to do it before you start your repair.
Step 2: Apply the first coat
Use a mason’s chisel and hammer to chip away any old stucco or loose material. Then use a finishing trowel to paint on the damaged area and repair cracks. This first layer is called the “scratch coat” (you’ll see why next).
Step 3: Add grooves
When the scratch coat is applied, use the notched trowel to scratch grooves into the mud. This helps future coats adhere better.
Step 4: Prepare for the brown coat
After the scratch coat sets and dries for at least 24 hours, sponge water onto the area to help the next coat adhere. This next layer is called the “brown coat” regardless of color.
Step 5: Apply the coat
Make sure you spread this layer of new stucco evenly, then “screed” (leveling with a straight edge) the mix to ensure the coat is flat and level (no texture).
Step 6: Apply the final coat
Make sure this final coat is a quarter-inch think and evenly applied.
Step 7: Texturize
For the final repair step, use a sponge to create the outer texture. If you didn’t add pigment at the beginning, paint the surface now. You may have to paint the entire side to disguise the patch.
For more detailed repair instructions, watch this video from RWT Design and Construction in Burbank, CA.