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Stucco Cracks: Should You Worry About Them?

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Stucco has been sweeping nationwide as one of the top exterior finishes. Due to the year-round heat, it is common in South Western states such as California and Arizona.

One of the best parts about Stucco, besides how great it looks, is its durability in all kinds of weather. Another huge benefit is that it is low-cost to purchase and maintain.

There’s only one concern when it comes to stucco and that would be in infamous stucco cracks.

Is Cracking In Stucco Normal?

Cracking is the largest complaint from all stucco owners. Not only does it bring stress on the durability but also it takes away from the look.

The simple answer is yes, cracks are completely normal with stucco. Small cracks that are less than 1/16 of an inch are common and can easily be repaired with filling and repainting.

It would not be unreasonable to fix stucco cracks immediatly as the set in, which can happen within a week of it being plastered. Yes, even when it’s installed properly by a licensed contractor it will still eventually crack. The real problems appear when there’s a crack larger than 1/16 of an inch. This will allow for excessive amounts of water to seep into the structure and cause many other issues which are NO BUENO!

If you live in an area with seasonal rain storms, then eventually the water will get behind the stucco and soften the areas it comes in contact with causing the stucco to break away and fall off in large pieces. 

So although cracks are normal and many owners face the issue, it likely can be repaired by a simple fill and paint.

If the crack is over 1/16th its best to call a professional to have it checked out.

large stucco cracks from water damage

Causes Of Stucco Cracks?

So now we know whether or not the crack is serious or not, let’s go over what may have caused the issue so it can be prevented in the future.

The first problem starts when stucco is mixed and applied. Stucco is made up of cement, sand, and water. So when these materials aren’t properly mixed, you can start to see the cracks down the road sooner rather than later.

The next common cause of cracking is the inconsistent coat thickness. For example, one part of the house could have ¼ of an inch applied and the other part has ¾ applied. This can cause inconsistency and result in serious cracks. The last “man-caused” issue is hydration. This is a problem that starts at the beginning as well as maintaining it.

Think of stucco as a plant, without proper hydration it’ll slowly start to die (crack). This issue is primarily in the beginning phase during installation.

Now the first and main cause that no home or building is immune to is the ground shifting. Anything from trucks driving by, the ground shifting from faults, and construction going on nearby. 

Should I Worry About Hairline Cracks In Stucco?

Although it can be slightly annoying, The good news about stucco is that hairline cracks aren’t an issue.

As long as the crack stays under 1/16 of an inch there should be a major issue resulting from the crack.

The best way to solve this issue is to just apply some stucco filler and then repaint over the crack. This will keep it sealed from any elements thrown its way.

Although hairline cracks won’t cause many issues, here are three problems a larger crack may cause:

Problem #1 Water Damage

When there’s a crack in the stucco, it opens up an area for water to seep through and wreak havoc on the interior of your home.

If this isn’t taken care of right away it can lead to a larger crack and even more damage.

Problem #2 Insects

Although a crack won’t let any intruders or large animals into your home, it’s a perfect spot for an insect to live. So whether it’s hornets, spiders, etc. any insect would love a tiny area such as a crack. Not to mention they might be able to find a way into your home.

Problem #3 Increased Humidity

With more water and moisture building up inside the exterior of your home, it can cause large amounts of mildew, humidity, and even peeling.

How Long Should Stucco Last Before Cracking?

Stucco cracking is completely normal specifically a hairline crack. The crazy part about stucco is you will usually see these cracks within 2-3 weeks after the brown coat is applied.

Although it can be disappointing to hear this, it could be much worse if it was a large crack.

If you do happen to see cracks early in the process there are ways to hide it such as planning a bush, filling, and painting, or finding a way to get creative.

Fixing Stucco Cracks

What we do is put some elastomeric masonary caulk that is sanded in the crack, that is flexible, won’t crack & has the same texture as stucco. Tilt your caulking gun to a 45 degree angle and start pumping caulk into the crac. Then dab it a little bit with our hand (with gloves on) and a wet sponge. If you don’t take the time to do this, the crack will look just as bad if not worse than the previous crack. Of course, the hole will be filled to add that extra layer of water protection that stucco offers, but nobody wants their home to have unsightly siding. 

Final Thoughts

To sum up, hairline cracks in stucco are completely normal and shouldn’t cause too much stress. But if the crack is thicker than 1/16 of an inch and seems to be getting worse and worse, it’s best to have a professional come in and take a look.

Large cracks must be checked out or large issues such as insects, water damage, and extreme humidity can take over your home.

Hairline cracks can cause stress and frustration but it’s important to know that it’s completely normal and there are ways to hide them if you wish.

This is exactly the thoughts we put into an exterior stucco painting project here at Hillis Brothers Painting.

We’ll wrap this blog post with an interesting and amusing quote we heard some time ago: “There’s two kinds of stucco: cracked stucco and stucco that’s going to crack.” To get this fixed, you should find an experienced stucco or plastering contractor.