Stucco repair: Here’s what you need to know

Stucco repair: Here’s what you need to know

stuccoDespite its higher installation costs, stucco can be a great siding choice for homeowners. In addition to being extremely durable (if properly maintained, stucco can last 50 years or more), it lowers utility bills by keeping your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. It’s also more fire resistant than other types of siding. And if you live in a noisy area, perhaps near a freeway, for example, it provides a layer of natural soundproofing.

On the other hand, stucco is prone to several common problems that, left untreated, can cost thousands of dollars in damage to your home. If you have a stucco home, here are the problems you should watch for—and what you can do to fix them.

What are the most common stucco problems and repairs?

Let’s start with the most expensive (and perhaps most common) stucco issue—water damage.

Many of the problems associated with water damage in stucco homes involve the flashing—more specifically, incorrectly installed flashing.

Stucco flashing is a piece of metal used to keep water out of the joints in the home’s structure. It’s usually used on the roof and around windows and doors to weatherproof the house. If flashing isn’t correctly installed, moisture seeps in, causing cracks and structural water damage. If left untreated, mold becomes a danger.

Staining is another common problem with stucco homes. Rainwater washes contaminants from your home’s roof and windows onto the stucco walls, which can leave unsightly stains and even cause the stucco itself to deteriorate.

Cracks can also occur with stucco siding. Smaller, localized cracks around windows and doors tend to be the result of water damage or seismic movements when the home settles or shifts slightly.

Some homes also develop spider web-type cracks in the siding, which are most often due to installation errors, such as inadequate curing of the base coat or too much water in the stucco mix itself.

Finally, you may discover holes in your stucco siding, usually from birds—especially woodpeckers—or impact from a blowing branch. These should be repaired, but generally don’t involve any structural damage to your actual home.

When can I do stucco repairs myself and when should I call a pro?

In general, an experienced DIY-er can perform a lot of the smaller stucco repairs, as long as there is no underlying structural damage or mold.

Before you tackle a DIY stucco repair, look for signs of serious water damage such as:

  • Numerous or wide cracks. While one or two small hairline cracks can occur with settling or even poorly taped joints, numerous cracks, especially near the roof or around windows and doors, may indicate underlying water damage.
  • Crumbling stucco may indicate water damage that compromises the wall’s integrity; it can also be a sign of pest infestation.
  • Soft spots and indentations in your stucco siding suggests underlying rot and water damage.

If any of these things are present, it’s a good idea to contact a stucco repair professional to evaluate the potential damage and make necessary repairs. You can also have moisture testing done on your stucco walls to determine if there are underlying water-damage issues you need to address before attempting any DIY repairs.

What are typical stucco repair costs?

The national average for stucco repairs ranges between about $550 and $1,600, although repairs in excess of $3,500 are not uncommon. If you need to repair or replace large sections of your stucco siding, you can expect to pay between $4,000 and $7,000. If there is extensive mold or structural water damage, total repair costs can exceed $15,000.

Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect to pay with less extensive stucco repairs where there are no structural issues, including costs if you are doing a DIY repair or hiring a pro to do the work for you:

  • Labor costs run about $50 per hour when you hire a professional, or about $80 to $100 per square foot of repairs.
  • Material costs include the stucco itself, which can be as cheap as $0.10 per square foot for traditional stucco or as much as $0.50 per square foot for synthetic finishes. Finishing and painting the stucco repairs add another $50 to $500, depending on the size of the repaired area.
  • Equipment for a DIY repair can drive up the cost if you don’t have essentials such as trowels, safety goggles, hammers, chisels, wire snips, mortar hoe, and even a wheelbarrow for larger repairs, so be sure to budget for tools and equipment before you price your project.
  • You may have extra expenses if the repairs involve an area of your home with unusual architectural details, such as oversized or unusually shaped windows and doors. If you hire a contractor charging by the hour, be sure to ask about extra costs for nonstandard repairs to avoid unpleasant surprises when the job is complete.

Some home improvement stores sell stucco repair kits, which include everything you need to make minor repairs (except, of course, your own tools and equipment). Depending on the size and complexity of the repairs, you can purchase these kits for anywhere from $30 to $300.

What is the best way to finance stucco repairs?

If your stucco repair is cosmetic and there is no underlying structural damage, you may want to save up and pay cash for the repair work, especially since cosmetic repairs are generally less expensive.

If the repair is more extensive, or there is damage to the foundation and the repairs need to be completed right away, you may want to consider financing the work.

When should I use a home improvement credit card to finance my stucco repairs?

Home improvement credit cards can be a great solution to finance your stucco repairs, especially if you think you’ll be able to pay off the balance in a short period of time.

Many home improvement credit cards come with a 0% introductory interest rate for the first 6 to 18 months, so if your repairs are relatively minor, you can get the work done right away and pay no interest, as long as you pay off the debt within the introductory term.

Keep in mind, however, that interest rates can be quite high once the introductory rate expires—as much as 18% or more. If you carry a balance past the introductory term, your payments can get out of hand quickly, so take a realistic look at your budget and what you’ll be able to pay against your credit card balance each month before you choose a home improvement credit card for stucco repairs.

When should I use a personal home improvement loan to finance stucco repairs?

If your repairs are more extensive and you need the cash right away for repairs, a personal home improvement loan might make more financial sense.

Unlike home equity loans, personal home improvement loans are not secured by your house, so there is no complex and costly application process—and your home is not at risk if you can’t make your payments on time. In most cases, you can get approved within 24 hours and have your money in as little as one or two days.

Personal home improvement loans have several other advantages when it comes to financing larger stucco repairs:

  • Interest rates are usually much lower than credit card interest rates once the 0% introductory rate expires.
  • Personal loan terms are longer, usually between 3 and 7 years, which means lower monthly payments.
  • You get fixed monthly payments so you can budget responsibly for your repair project.
  • Higher loan limits get you the financing you need for even extensive stucco repairs—up to $35,000 with most lenders.
  • There is no prepayment penalty, so you can double up payments when you have extra cash and pay your loan off early..
  • You don’t need any equity in your home to qualify for a personal home improvement loan.

If you need stucco repair due to a covered event under your homeowner’s insurance policy, a personal home improvement loan is a quick and easy way to get the cash you need to pay your deductible so you can get the work done right away.

How do I find a good stucco repair contractor?

It’s always a good idea to get several estimates before you choose a contractor. You can search for stucco contractors in your neighborhood online community, at a local stucco supply yard, or by calling a few general contractors to ask for recommendations.

BuildZoom is another quick and easy way to get bids from multiple qualified contractors in your area.

You should always confirm that any contractor you consider is licensed and insured; check with the BBB to see if there are any complaints or legal actions against them.

A good contractor is always willing to give you the names of recent happy customers you can call for references—avoid any contractor who won’t.

Don’t start any work until you have a written contract which specifies:

  • The date the work will begin.
  • How long the work is expected to take.
  • A complete description of exactly what work will be done.
  • The total cost to you, including the date each payment is due. For example, some contractors require a 10% – 20% deposit at the beginning of the job with the balance due when the work is completed, while others may require 50% at a predefined mid-point in the job with the remainder due when the project is complete.

It’s a good idea to do a little research about the type of repairs you need before you begin interviewing contractors so you can ask relevant questions and have a better idea of what the work will entail.

How Hearth can help with stucco repair financing

Hearth helps you find the best rates on personal home improvement rates and home improvement credit cards so you can get your repairs done fast. You can use our home improvement financing comparison tool to help you decide which option is right for you.  

When you’re ready to get financing—

  • Click to see your personalized options for a home improvement credit card or personal home improvement loan. Seeing your rates takes less than 3 minutes and won’t affect your credit score.
  • Review options from our lending partners and choose the one that best fits your stucco repair financing needs.
  • Complete the application with your chosen lender. In most cases, you’ll have your money in as little as one to 10 days.

With Hearth, there’s no need to put off repairing your cracked, stained, or damaged stucco.