Different Types of Stucco

Stucco is the primary choice of cladding when you finish an exterior facade. The application of stucco to an exterior surface proves to be a more tedious and expensive process than some other forms of wood or vinyl cladding. On the upside, stucco’s durability, fire resistance, and vapor permeability make it suitable for any climate. When you consider stucco as an option for your home’s exterior, you have three types from which to select. Here, we get into all of them.

Traditional Three-Coat Stucco System

The traditional three-coat stucco system entails a scratch, brown, and a finish coat, which results in a 7/8″ thick cladding on the exterior surface of your home. Three coat stucco comes in a few different finishes as well. 

From a heavily textured look, more on older Spanish style homes, to a subtle sand finish, featured on contemporary or newer built homes, to the smooth finish that affords a trendy look for a modern home. Prone to cracking, stucco’s smooth appearance requires an additional step. A crack reduction coat applied to plaster helps reduce cracks’ appearance as they become more visible on a smooth coat.

One Coat Stucco

The second stucco type, one coat stucco, goes directly on the substrate, usually wood sheeting or masonry. With the black paper installed, a special foam replaces the scratch coat, followed by the wire placement and the first coat. Then, a final finish coat completes the installation. 
This option includes the same benefits as the traditional three-coat stucco when considering durability. As an added benefit, this stucco increases energy efficiency with a reduced exterior cladding weight of about 50%.

Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems

EIFS stands for Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems, the third type of stucco. Since WWII, Europeans have used this synthetic stucco. Modern EIFS uses a six-layer process consisting of a water-resistant barrier, usually a liquid applied to the substrate. The insulation board attaches by using an adhesive to support the structure. The following layers’ installation goes in this order: foam insulation, followed by the base coat, the reinforcement wire mesh, and finally, the finished coat. 

A considerable disadvantage exists concerning EIFS—its failure to provide a way for the system to breathe. If moisture occurs behind the covering, it becomes trapped in the wall itself. This moisture contributes to dry rot and allows mold to form. Therefore, when builders use wood sheeting as the substrate, EIFS should be avoided.


Overall, all the above methods work for applying stucco with different finishes, including textured and smooth. If you seek a modern curb appeal, a smooth finish affords the look you desire. Aside from the elegant look, smooth stucco requires very little maintenance. Because of its smooth surface, dust or dirt do not get trapped in the pores. With smooth stucco material, the exterior of your home looks as good as when first installed.

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