Exterior housing comes in many forms. While brick and stone remain the more expensive options, stucco is rising in popularity due to its low maintenance and cost effectiveness. However, like any choice, it comes with its share of issues, and cracking is by far the most common issue in stucco housing. Determining a cause will assist in preventing future issues with exterior stucco.

House movement & settling - By far one of the most common causes is due to house movement or settling, especially in a new home. These factors are responsible for mostly hairline cracks, or cracks that are about 1/16 of an inch wide. Even an old home is susceptible to these cracks because even the vibration of power tools used in remodeling parts of the home can cause stucco to crack. These movements and cracks can also be caused by loose soil, which gives in to pressure, thus resulting in slanted walls and cracks. These hairline cracks are not the same as the thin, diagonal cracks that appear around door and window frames. The diagonal cracks are generally caused by seismic movements and tend to be deeper than the cracks from simple settling.

Improper installation - This is usually in regards to the metal mesh or lath underneath the coats of stucco. A great example of this is patterned cracks in the walls, like checkerboard and horizontal lines. This is a very clear indication that the mesh underneath was not installed properly. The only fix for this issue is to break out the stucco and correct the mesh or lath by properly stapling or nailing it down. This can also mean that the top coat was applied before the base coat had adequate time to dry or that there is not a thick enough coat of stucco applied to the walls.

Incorrect stucco mix - The easiest way to tell that the stucco mix is the issue is that the cracks will appear in a spidering formation. Often you will see a building will an almost spider-web like appearance, especially after rain has gotten into the cracks, making them darker and easier to see. This can mean a number of things from incorrect mixture or curing of the base coat to too much water in the mix or simply the temperature being too high when the stucco was applied. In all of these cases, the best option is to once again chip the stucco out and begin again.

While these problems may seem vast, the good news is that even if it has to be done over, stucco is an extremely cost effective housing option and often, the problems are not urgent enough to require immediate remedy. Spider cracks are not going to take your house down after a few years, however, if the stucco begins chipping or the cracks get deeper, it's definitely time to fix the problem. To find out more about stucco, contact a business like Abaco Plastering & Stucco Ltd Stucco.