Originally purposed as a finish coat for not-so-beautiful masonry structures, stucco evolved into an extremely popular and cost-effective exterior finish... an attractive alternative to the cheap appeal of siding, right? WRONG!! It evolved into an epidemic, and one that has cost homeowners billions of dollars! Stucco was never meant for an application over timber-based structure. It is too thin of a cementitious application to keep the moisture from crawling into your life and rotting your house right out from under you. In the state of Pennsylvania alone "Stucco Remediation" has become a billion dollar industry and the worst part of the whole thing... the same guys that put the original stucco application on are circling back around to fix it and get paid all over again... after forming a brand new company to do it of course.
Whose fault is it, who dropped the ball on this one? I have only two words for you... Building Code! I'm not saying that the error lies soley within the Town/City officials but they are the "Watchers" and "Enforcers" right? They were supposed to protect us from exactly this type of epidemic. That is what they exist for and the fact remains that it's common knowledge among masonry experts that the idea of stucco on just anything at all is a bad idea. If it's common knowledge anywhere then it's not a secret and so either not one soul did their homework or the decision-makers had this billion-dollar cash flow in mind despite the damaging impact it would surely have on the homeowner.
Right about now you're thinking, "well Steve, how do we know that it's common knowledge among masonry experts...can you validate that?" Folks, the proof is in the pudding. If the same guys that put the stucco on were ready to go with a new business and a new purpose as soon as it failed, well then the only conclusion that can be drawn is that they knew... they had that common knowledge and were ready to swoop in and get rich all over again. They're greedy animals and you took out a second mortgage because of it right? That's what you're thinking right? My opinion, they aren't to blame. If those guys didn't put that stucco on, someone else would have. That isn't something that I support from a moral standpoint but they just aren't the responsible party. First in line to blame is the local government, any involved organization after them is just a product of the first error. In order to stay alive any constuction company must be competitive in their cost and appearance. The governments set those standards in building code and therefore forced every construction company to adopt the practices to remain competitive... it was "comply or die" for every builder and stucco contractor out there.
Let me come to the real point of this blog... they're still allowing the stucco exterior! Yes! The building codes still permit the stucco, can you believe that! They've added a few precautionary steps to the process calling it a "moisture barrier". LOL. If it's not a ziplock bag or a house inside a sealed container...it just ain't a barrier. In short, my advice is that if it's a dollars & cents issue then save yourself the trouble and select a nice siding, if your heart is set on masonry then go with a stone or a brick...while you think it's more expensive at face value it's actually a whole lot less expensive than "Stucco Remediation" mainely because you're paying for your exterior finish a second time.