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Stucco inspections have become more and more prevalent over the past couple of years. Why is this? The awareness of how serious a defective stucco installation can be, both financially and emotionally has caused many people to become more knowledgeable about the material being applied to their homes and commercial buildings. The damage to your checkbook to fix a stucco problem alone is enough to get your attention.

Stucco or what is referred to as traditional hard coat stucco or three coat stucco is an excellent cladding or finishing material for buildings. Installed correctly, stucco can last a long time with little maintenance. There are stucco buildings around the world that have stood the test of time and existed for hundreds of years.

Although the past three decades saw builders throwing up stucco housing developments with little to no oversight by anyone, including the township inspectors. We don’t see nearly as many problems on stucco homes that are forty years and older. Why is that? Well, there are a number of reasons for this dramatic change. One of the most significant reasons is that the oil embargo back in the seventies changed how we viewed energy consumption. Buildings were not built to be energy efficient back then. They were drafty which allowed them to dry out when they got wet. Another reason is that the building materials used back then were able to absorb, hold and release more moisture without growing mold then current building materials do. Last, but not least, the building paper we used back then was saturated with asphalt (petroleum based). When the price for oil began to increase, the manufactures’ took half the amount of asphalt out, and changed the labels from 30 lb. & 15 lb. felt to #30 felt and #15. Unfortunately, no one really noticed this change or realized the implications it would have on stucco buildings in particular.

Stucco is applied in three applications. The first coat is your scratch coat; the second is your brown coat and then comes your finish coat. Now, here is where stucco applicators get into trouble. The ASTM Standards and the building codes are very specific and require a certain amount of cure time between these applications. However, the problem starts often long before the stucco is even applied to the building. It starts with the improper installation of the sheathing that will hold the stucco. The building papers used to cover the sheathing are called WRB’s (water resistive barriers) and are another problem area. Then you have the issue of flashing. Much attention has been directed at the lack of flashing or the improper installation of the flashing. Without a doubt flashing is an issue. Stucco homes need to be able to dry without causing damage and the incorporation of a drainage plane is another key element. The key to this puzzle is the integration of all of these elements.

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With all these avenues for stucco to be improperly installed on a building that you own or are considering purchasing it’s imperative that you use due diligence and have a stucco inspection performed by a certified stucco inspector. For more information about our professional stucco inspection, testing and repair services, call us at 610-642-6666