How to Paint Stucco

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Stucco is a durable and great-looking exterior home finish that is becoming very popular with homeowners everywhere. You can elevate the look even further with a nice coat of top-quality paint. However, before you break out the brushes and rollers, it’s important to know how to prep and properly apply paint to any stucco surface.

Tools & Materials

Here’s a handy guide to make sure you’re not missing any essential tools and materials for your project.

Napped Paint Roller
Acrylic Paint
Synthetic Bristle Brush
Stiff Bristle Brush
Vacuum With Dust Attachment
Power Washer
Putty Knife
Stucco Patching Compound
Masonry Caulking
Caulking Gun
Drop Cloth
Painter’s Tape
Stucco Primer

Some Things To Consider In The Beginning

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Issues With Existing Stucco

Carefully inspect the stucco to see what condition it’s in. Do you need to fix any cracks before the painting starts? Most acrylic caulks can get the job done nicely and they are the easiest type to work with. However, if you’re going for a more professional look, consider using a caulk that has sand in it. These products have a much nicer-looking finish and it blends in a lot of better with your existing stucco.

Exterior Home Stucco Installation in Progress by Exterior Design

Other Issues To Watch Out For

Look out for bits of peeling stucco. For smaller holes and gashes, you can pick up some premixed stucco repair patch material. It’s going to be a lifesaver and timesaver when it comes to smaller repairs.

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Does The Stucco Need Cleaning?

The new paint needs a clean, unobscured surface to cling onto that’s free from dust and debris. Whether your stucco is already painted or not, you need to use a pressure washer with a power of 2,800-3,100 psi to blast away any chipping paint or dirt that might prevent the new paint from properly adhering to your walls.

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When Was Your Stucco Installed?

If you just had new stucco installed on your home or business, you’ll need to wait at least two months or 60 days before attempting to paint it. The stucco needs time to fully harden, or “cure” before you can seal it in with any type of painting product.

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Let’s Talk About Texture

It’s important to consider what kind of stucco texture you have. Whether it’s rough or smooth will dictate what kind of tools and painting method you use to get the job done. Rougher textures need a larger nap on the roller and will use a lot more paint. Smoother stucco needs a smaller nap and will save you on painting costs.

Painting Exterior Home Stucco

How Are You Going To Paint The Stucco?

You can use a roller or sprayer or both depending on the layout and size of your stucco wall. A sprayer is the best choice because you can rent one and it makes the work go very quickly. It’s also more professional-looking and uses less paint, saving you money in the long run.

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Check The Weather

Make sure you choose a time when it’s expected to be warm and dry with little to no rain in the forecast. Your paint needs several days to dry properly. If any water gets inside the paint before it seals, you will have issues down the road. If you really can’t wait, you can cover the walls with a tarp or plastic, as long as you can stop moisture from getting in.

In Progress of Exterior Stucco Installation by Exterior by Design

How Are You Going To Reach Everywhere?

If you have a one or two-storey house, you might be able to get away with using a ladder for the whole project. Anything higher though, and you might need to secure some scaffolding. Just take your time, walk around your home, visualize the process and determine how you’re going to reach every little bit of stucco.

Stone Siding and Stucco Installation on Custom Home

Measure Two or Three Times

The paint is expensive and you don’t want to buy too much. You also don’t want to be nearly done with the project and find out that your last can of paint is empty! Measure the walls carefully to determine your square footage. It’s a good idea to add 25% to your final calculation. Stucco tends to absorb a lot of paint and you almost always need more than you think. The measuring process on smaller homes can be done with a simple tape measure, but for larger areas, you may want to consider investing in a measuring wheel or laser tape measure.

Stucco Painting (Step-By-Step Process)

Step 1:
Prep the surrounding area that you’ll be painting. Lay down your drop cloths on the floor and on top of any furniture that can’t be moved out of the way. Tape your trim to avoid additional cleanup later on.
Step 2:
Clean the stucco thoroughly. Use your power washer, bristle brush and vacuum to remove all dirt, dust and debris. Use a household cleaner or special degreaser to remove any sticky films. Allow the area to dry completely for at least 24 hours before moving to repairs.
Step 3:
Use masonry caulk to fix any small cracks. Any cracks that are larger than 1/16-inch wide will need a special patch. When it comes to stucco patching, follow the manufacturer’s guide for curing. In some cases, you might need to wait up to 10 days until you can paint.
Step 4:
Use a high-quality acrylic primer along with a synthetic brush and large napped roller to apply to the desired area. The professionals use acrylic paints and primers because their composition sticks better to the uneven finish of most stucco surfaces. You’ll probably need to do more than one coat of primer. It might be tempting to do one thick coat, but two thinner coats are preferred to avoid pooling and drips.
Step 5:
A good rule of thumb when it comes to painting stucco is to assume you’ll need more paint than the can says. For example, if a can says it will cover 400 square feet, just assume that you’ll only cover 200 square feet of a stucco surface. That’s because the stucco finish has many little crevices, which means the wall will absorb a lot of paint as you go. Roll on as many coats as desired. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for drying times.


How Often Should I Apply A Fresh Coat Of Paint To My Walls?

Most professionals will say about every 5 years, but this number really depends on several factors including the quality of the original application and your climate.

Is Painting Stucco Recommended?

Some people don’t think you should paint stucco. In the original form, stucco is generally a maintenance-free material to use on the exterior of your home, but painting changes everything because you’ll have to keep investing in the paint every few years. However, it’s really up to the homeowner depending on the look they want to go for.

Should I Use A Primer Before I Paint?

If you plan on painting your stucco, using a primer is essential. It seals the stucco before you paint it. Stucco absorbs a lot of paint, so you want to eliminate that suction during the primer coats. Ultimately, you’ll spend less money on the initial coats of your finishing paint and additional painting in the years that follow.