Consisting of Portland cement, sand, lime and water, stucco is a long-lasting, low-maintenance siding option. But just like any other construction material that includes Portland cement, stucco is prone to cracking.
Though cracks in stucco can occur due to different factors, including wrong mix proportions, insufficient mixing, poor workmanship, seismic movement and seasonal changes, two leading causes of cracks in stucco are the house settling process and shrinkage-induced stresses, which typically occur during the drying period. Now that you know why stucco cracks, let’s find out how serious a stucco crack can be.
The Problems behind Stucco Cracking
Hairline cracks aren’t as serious as deep cracks. However, they can provide a pathway for moisture and water to enter into a wall system. Once moisture or water gets inside a wall, it will inevitably cause further damage. As an example, water that gets behind stucco will soften the material it comes in contact with, eventually causing stucco to break away and fall off in sheets. Moisture and water trapped inside walls can lead to additional problems, such as paint failure, wood rot, mold growth, musty smell, swollen drywall and irreparable damage.
Although cracks smaller than 1/16 inches usually don’t undermine the integrity of exterior stucco, repairing them immediately will prevent them from escalating into something worse. To repair a minor stucco crack, apply a high-quality caulk, use a brush to stipple the caulk while wet (this will create texture to better blend) let it cure, dry properly then paint the entire area.
If you live in Florida, it’s advisable to inspect your exterior stucco and fix any cracks you observe before the rainy season kicks in. This level of maintenance is to be expected with all stucco homes.
Unlike hairline cracks, a large stucco crack may indicate a structural problem. Often, large cracks develop at the intersection of vertical walls, at the upper corners of window and door frames, or at joints between wood framing and concrete/brick masonry. Since most large cracks aren’t only wide but also deep, they allow moisture and water to penetrate the building envelope and pass freely through walls.
The most “dangerous” cracks are typically wider than 1/16 inches, with edges that are no longer aligned parallel to each other. If the edge of a crack has moved in relation to the other edge, it may indicate unusual structural changes in your home. As an example, when the foundation settles more on one side of a house than on the other, it may create enough stress for stucco to crack. To correctly address and fix potential structural problems, it’s very important to investigate large cracks before any attempt is made to repair them.
If you’ve just found a large or deep crack in your stucco, we advise you to consult a professional who can identify the root cause of the problem and indicate the right solution that will not only solve the issue but also prevent its recurrence.
Since stucco is your home’s first line of defense against the harsh climate of Florida, solving even the smallest stucco crack as soon as possible using the best products is critical to ensure your home’s health and longevity.
If you’re looking for professional advice regarding the state of your stucco home siding, contact us at Performance Painting. Besides being able to identify a wide variety of stucco problems, our experts can handle various stucco repairs and repaint the exact same color for a seamless appearance, or indicate the best solution that will keep your home safe from the elements for many years to come.