What is Stucco? [With Pictures]

August 25, 2021
Santa Barbra Finish Stucco

Stucco is a stylized siding option for buildings made out of a mixture of cement, sand, water, and lime. It is a seamless, rot-resistant material that can be used for an array of home projects.


When on exterior siding, it protects against UV rays and inclement weather. It gives walls and other surfaces a textured look that can mimic wood, brick, or stone. Praised for its beautiful finish and affordability, many people love using this material both in and outside of their homes. 


Thinking about using stucco for your next home project? Reference this guide to learn more about what stucco is and when it’s best to have it.   

Different Types of Stucco 

There are many different types of stucco you can work with. The material used for exterior projects will vary from the materials used for indoor projects. From there it can be further divided into different system types and finishes.

Stucco for Interior and Exterior

Before we can dive into the different styles and textures of stucco, you need to decide if you need exterior or interior stucco. While these two materials are similar and look almost indistinguishable from each other, they do have some key differences you should be aware of. 


Exterior Stucco

  • Used to cover sidings, concrete walls, framing, cinder blocks, clay, or adobe
  • Must be able to withstand rays from the sun and inclement weather


Indoor Stucco 

  • Gives walls and other indoor features a stone-like, handcrafted appearance
  • Doesn’t require specialized protective qualities

Stucco Systems 

There are two methods used to apply stucco. The original method was the 3-coat system but some newer stucco can be applied using the 1-coat system. They are made with slightly different materials and require different techniques to apply. 


3-Coat System: This is the original method. It’s called the 3-coat method because the main steps are to lath, scratch, and brown. The whole process actually consists of more steps. The application process will involve laying paper and wire, applying a scratch coat, then a brown coat, and, finally, a finishing top coat. 


1-Coat System: The 1-coat system uses a slightly different material which is comprised of quick-dry Portland cement, sand, fibers, chemicals, and water. This process combines the scratch and brown coat. While this process technically requires two coats of stucco instead of one, it’s still quicker and cheaper than the 3-coat system. 

Stucco Finishes 

  • Santa Barbra Finish
  • Dash Stucco Finish
  • Cat Face Stucco Finish
  • Spanish Finish Stucco
  • Smooth Stucco Finish
  • Spanish Lace Finish
  • Worm Finish

What Climates Can Exterior Stucco Withstand?

Stucco isn’t suitable for all regions. It holds up well in dry, hot climates. That’s not to say it isn’t an option for those in colder climates too, but due to how porous this material is, it won’t do well faced with heavy rain and humidity.


Those in areas that get a moderate amount of rain and snow can get away with installing stucco siding. If you live in a wet climate and still want to give it a shot, avoid applying stucco to high moisture areas such as the footing or top of your home. Instead, finish it with a water-resistant material such as brick or vinyl. 

How Much Does Stucco Cost? 

Stucco is considered a relatively inexpensive option for siding and other home improvement projects. It doesn’t require as many expensive materials to pull off. While the price tag with vary based on the type of stucco you use, the scope of your project, and possible labor fees, stucco siding will typically be around $5 to $9.58 per square foot.

Stucco is A Good Option for Home Projects

There are a lot of advantages to stucco. It is a durable, low-cost finish that can add a natural, earth essence to your home. You can apply this versatile material to brick, wood frames, concrete, or steel frames. With so many pigments and textures to choose from you’re sure to find an option that will match your style.  

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