Acrylic Stucco vs Traditional Stucco

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Stucco, you have seen it on the exterior surface of countless houses, it might even be on yours, but few people know that there are different types of stucco. Acrylic and traditional stucco mixes are the most common types of stucco mixtures used today. Knowing the differences between the two will help you pick the right type for your home.

Acrylic stucco, also called elastomeric or synthetic stucco is made of acrylic resins and polymers that are glue-like. High-quality brands will have sand mixed in to give your exterior finish a more defined look. It comes in different textures and colours so you have a large variety to choose from.

Traditional exterior stucco is made of sand, water, lime, and Portland cement. It can be applied in an unlimited range of textures and colours. Traditional stucco is also called cement stucco finish, classic stucco, hard coat stucco, and hard coat finish.

Acrylic Stucco

amazing exterior stucco on custom home


An acrylic stucco application is energy-efficient and easy to apply. The product comes wet so it is easy to mix using a paddle attachment on your drill. The material is very flexible because of its elasticity so it is resistant to hairline cracks. Acrylic stucco comes in a variety of vibrant colours and can also be painted. Because this stucco does not fade, it does not have to be repainted. Synthetic stucco protects your home from fire, and weather, and is sound resistant.

stucco finish


Synthetic stucco is more expensive than traditional stucco because it is made with polymers. Because it is not a common exterior stucco, the synthetic brand is not sold everywhere so it might be more difficult to find. Acrylic stucco dries faster so it should be applied by someone with experience in stucco application.

Traditional Stucco

exterior stucco on custom home


At a price of $10 to $15 per 80-90 lb bag, traditional stucco is very cost-effective. The classic stucco house application is very versatile and can be applied in an unlimited number of textures and colours. It easily covers blemishes and dings on your home. This classic stucco can come in the colour of your choice or be painted. Like synthetic stucco, traditional stucco is also weather, sound, and fire-resistant. Traditional stucco is sold almost anywhere so it is easy to find.

Classic stucco exterior


Classic stucco is sold as a dry mix so it is harder to mix. Colour variations can occur if you do not mix enough to cover your entire wall. Traditional exterior stucco fades over time so it will have to be painted. It is also prone to cracking so regular maintenance is important. When applying to your exterior surface, additional mud stands and boards are needed to hold the stucco onto your home.


exterior stucco design

Traditional stucco is a more rigid exterior stucco whereas acrylic stucco application is softer. Traditional stucco requires a wire mesh underlay to stick to the home’s exterior whereas acrylic stucco is a multilayered exterior coating with a foam insulation board, synthetic stucco first coat, fibreglass mesh, and synthetic top coat.

Acrylic stucco repels water while classic stucco absorbs water. The stucco eventually dries once the water makes its way out.

Synthetic stucco is good for one, three, and EIF coat applications. Classic stucco is suitable for one and three-coat applications.

Made Out Of:

Traditional stucco is made of sandy, usually white in colour, lime, Portland cement, and water. Acrylic stucco has an Elmer’s glue-like texture because it is made of acrylic resins and polymers.

photo of EIFS stucco

What is EIFS?

EIFS stucco, or Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems, is a multi-layered synthetic stucco that is commonly used in Europe. It was first used post-war to fix damaged buildings. Contractors started using it in the late 70’s in North America to cover commercial buildings. EFIS stucco system is made of six layers:

commercial stucco for nofrills
  1. Optional Water-Resistive Barrier (WRB) which is a fluid that covers the substrate
  2. Adhesive ribbons between the WRB and insulation board to create a drainage plane
  3. Foam insulation attached to the exterior substrate by the adhesive ribbons
  4. Base coat made of acrylic or polymer-based cement material. It is applied to the top of the insulation.
  5. Glass-fibre reinforcement mesh embedded in the base coat.
  6. A finish coat made of crack-resistant polymers that provides a protective and decorative finish.

EFIS system works well on exterior surfaces made of wood, however, they are not necessarily effective on wood exteriors. Lack of breathability in the coating can cause moisture to become trapped if it gets in. This can rot and wood and invite unwanted pests into your walls.

At Exterior by Design, we can help you will all your exterior stucco application needs.

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