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What Is the Best Paint for a Stucco House?

Stucco houses are found throughout the southern and southwestern US states in colors from natural clay and sun-washed pink, to custom colors. Painting a stucco house is no more difficult--and often easier--than painting a wood-sided house. The best paint depends on the age and condition of your stucco, and whether it has been previously painted.

Painting New Stucco

New stucco should cure for a minimum of sixty days before painting--to be sure, ask the stucco contractor for his or her recommendation. There are several stucco systems on the market and some can be painted within a month. After curing, use a water-based masonry sealer formulated for use on stucco and other porous surfaces. This can be followed by two coats of water-based paint. While some budget exterior paints are a blend of latex and acrylic, use a 100 percent acrylic exterior house paint. This provides the best adhesion and color retention. Using the highest quality paint will extend the life of your paint job significantly.

If you have fiber cement stucco panels installed instead of traditional concrete stucco, these usually come from the manufacturer pre-primed and ready to paint with any high quality exterior water-based paint.

Painting Old, Faded Stucco

While it's possible to do any necessary repairs, wash the surfaces and use two coats of acrylic paint, this will get you a satisfactory, but not optimal and long-lasting job. Elastomeric or elastomeric-modified masonry paint is your best choice. This will not only provide superior adhesion and an impervious surface, it is heavy-bodied and elastic enough to fill hairline cracks and small pinholes in the stucco.

Previously-Painted Stucco

Previously painted stucco must be free of all loose paint, dirt and efflorescence (minerals in the stucco which leach out to the surface in a powdery film.) Power washing is often the most efficient way to prepare the surface. The stucco can then be painted with either acrylic or elastomeric paint.

Expert Tips

Avoid all oil-based paints for stucco. They do not "breathe" like water-based coatings, and moisture within your home will evaporate through the exterior walls, loosening and peeling the paint.

Bear in mind that once you paint your stucco, you will be faced with re-painting every eight to ten years. Once stucco is painted, re-applying a fresh coat of stucco will require expensive and extensive surface preparation.

All exterior paints come in sheens from flat through satin, semi-gloss and high gloss. While glossier paints are a little more durable, bear in mind they also highlight surface irregularities.

Use a high quality paint intended for use on stucco and other masonry surfaces, and remember that because of the heavy texture and porosity of most stucco, you can probably count on between 150 and 200 square feet of coverage.

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