There’s no denying that exterior stucco gives a home a classy and stylish look no other siding can match. However, like all finishes, it will lose its good looks after a while due to daily wear and tear.
Now, you could have your home “redashed,” meaning you add another layer of stucco to your home’s existing surface. However, it’s far cheaper and easier just to repaint it. All you’d need to do is learn how to paint stucco.
Thankfully, this job is definitely in the DIY ballpark and not any more difficult than painting a home with a different type of siding, like wood.
Below, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide to show you how to paint stucco.
Tools and Materials Needed for Painting Stucco
Below we’ve listed the tools and materials you’ll need to paint stucco.
- Extension ladder
- Caulk gun
- Paint roller
- Paint brushes
- Roller covers
- Paint roller tray
- Pressure washer (You may want to rent or borrow one of these to save on expenses)
- Block Fill Primer (this is optional)
- Acrylic exterior caulk
- Sandpaper (between 80-100 grit)
- Polyurethane exterior caulk
- Acrylic latex exterior paint (flat finish)
- Stucco patch (this is optional)
How to Paint Stucco: Step-by-Step
Once you’ve gathered your tools and materials, you’re ready to begin painting your stucco.
Step 1: Inspect the Stucco
Before painting your stucco, you’ll need to check its condition. Do you see any cracks? If you’ve found a few hairline cracks, don’t worry, this is perfectly normal. The paint will fill these in for you. You may find a few stress cracks located in the corners of doors and windows that run toward the ground. This is also common. These types of cracks take place over time as your home settles and are easy to repair.
However, check for other signs of damage, like large sections of stucco missing, horizontal cracks, or strange discoloration. This could be a sign of more serious issues such as moisture building behind your stucco.
If you see evidence of these problems, you’ll need to hold off on your painting project and call a stucco contractor to assess the root causes and offer solutions. Otherwise your new paint job won’t last long against the deterioration that’s already happening.
Step 2: Pressure Wash the Stucco
Just like with any painting project, you’ll need to clean the surface before painting your stucco. You should remove all debris and dirt before painting, and pressure washing is the fastest and most efficient way of doing this.
You can even rent a pressure washer if you don’t want to purchase one. Be sure to follow the directions very carefully and always wear safety goggles. It’s recommended that you set the washer between 1,500 to 2,500 PSI (pounds per square inch).
When learning how to paint stucco, you always want to use the lowest pressure setting on your pressure washer that will get the job done. First, test a small section before you move on to the entire house to make sure that the pressure isn’t high enough to chip your stucco.
If you wish to use detergent, we recommend using a mild, eco-friendly variety. If you’re not comfortable handling a pressure washer, you can always hire a pro to take care of this part. Once your home is washed, you should allow it to dry completely before painting your stucco.
Step 3: Prepare the Stucco
To prep your stucco, begin by repairing all the small holes and cracks you can find using exterior acrylic caulk. If you uncover bigger cracks or sections with more extensive damage, you might be able to fix them using a stucco patch.
If your stucco was previously painted and you notice that the paint is chipped in certain areas, you can lightly sand away the edges of these areas using 80 or 100-grit sandpaper to get rid of loose paint.
Caulk around your door and window trim using polyurethane caulk. It’s a bit harder to use than acrylic, but polyurethane delivers the best waterproofing.
Step 4: Pick the Paint
Now, for most stucco projects, the pros recommend acrylic latex paint with a flat sheen. This is often a good choice since stucco is porous, and the paint will allow it to breathe. Plus, Acrylic latex is very easy to apply, and you can clean it up using only water.
However, you may decide to go with one of two other options, such as masonry or elastomeric paint.
Masonry paints are specially designed to bond with materials such as concrete, cinder blocks, masonry substrates, and stucco. These paints are highly durable and are more moisture and mildew resistant than acrylic paints. But, they offer fewer choices when it comes to colors and much lower coverage than acrylic paints. So Masonry paint is a good choice if you’re more interested in practicality than fun colors for painting your stucco.
Elastomeric paint is a rubber-based paint you apply in liquid form that later dries into a layer of solid rubber. This is your paint if you’re looking for the very best water resistance. Its thick formula conceals hairline cracks, but these paints are not available in the same vibrant colors as acrylic.
Plus, they can take up to 72 hours to dry completely. Another issue is that Elastomeric paint can have difficulty bonding with stucco, especially when the stucco already has several previous layers of paint. Science elastomeric is the heaviest of the three paints. Due to its weight, it may cause older paint to pull away from the stucco.
Step 5: Prime the Stucco (If Needed)
If this is the very first time you’re painting your stucco, then you definitely should prime it first using an acrylic latex block filler. Since stucco is very absorbent, the acrylic latex block filler will soak right into the stucco’s pores allowing you to maximize the coverage of your topcoat.
Some paints are two-in-one with a primer built into the paint. These may allow you to finish the job quicker.
Step 6: Apply the Paint
To get started with painting your stucco, begin around the doors, windows, and other trim using a brush. Then roll on the stucco using a thick-napped roller cover. Begin at the top, working steadily in small sections allowing you to keep a wet edge.
Another method for painting your stucco is using canned spray-on paint via an airless sprayer. If your stucco is highly textured, you can go over it with a roller after using your sprayer. This technique is called “back-rolling.”
If you primed your stucco, you’ll likely just need one topcoat. Without a primer, it’s best to apply at least two coats. Be sure to follow the directions on the paint can carefully as they will tell you the ideal temperatures and weather conditions for applying the paint, as well as how long you should wait before applying a second coat.
Maintenance Tips for After Painting Your Stucco
The best way to ensure your DIY Stucco exterior painting project is a success is by keeping up routine maintenance on your stucco. This way, you can avoid nasty surprises like finding moisture behind your stucco and time-consuming cracks you have to fill before painting. So after learning how to paint stucco, make a new habit to inspect your home’s exterior once a month for cracks and chips. This could save a lot of time and money in the long run.
It’s a good idea to inspect your stucco exterior at least every year, looking for problem areas such as peeling paint and flaking or excessive cracking. Such indicators could be signs of settling issues or moisture that will likely require calling in a professional. You can also touch up any hairline cracks you find with paint to stop them from growing.
Here are a few other helpful tips that will allow you to keep your stucco in top condition.
Like any other exterior, stucco can get dirty fairly easily. It may collect dirt due to outdoor elements, which can give your home a dirty appearance. Also, keep in mind that stucco is a porous material, meaning it can easily absorb stains. Because of this, it’s a good idea to clean your stucco frequently.
Now, for this, you may not need a power washer. You can probably use your garden hose to keep your stucco clean in general, but it would be important to wash frequently. But, if the hose isn’t doing the job, you may have to step things up with a power washer.
Because stucco is made with a porous material, it requires protection from the intrusion of moisture. For this purpose, it’s common for many to use a masonry sealer paint that will penetrate into the stucco, preventing moisture from getting through. While you only need one application, in the beginning, you’ll need to reapply the sealant every five years or so for it to continue to protect your stucco.
As we discussed earlier, elastomeric paint is the best protection for your stucco. You can apply a coating to areas where you’ve found cracks that acrylic paint won’t hide. And since it’s a rubber paint, Elastomeric also has the advantage of stretching as a crack develops to keep it beneath its seal. This way, water cannot enter these cracks to get into your stucco. These types of sealants usually last ten years or more.
You can use an elastomeric coat to protect and an acrylic layer on top for decoration. If you go that route, you may want to sand down a few layers of older paint before applying the coating to prevent peeling issues down the road with the heavy paint.
Stucco is very rigid and durable, but it can still be susceptible to chips, cracks, and holes as the years go by. These defects not only take away from the attractiveness of your home but can ultimately compromise the strength of your stucco exterior.
Plus, when moisture builds behind your stucco, it’s the perfect place for mold to grow. Mold can cause health issues for occupants in a home. Also, cracks can be a way for pests like insects to enter your home.
If you spot a crack in your stucco, do not allow it time to grow bigger. Instead, address the problem straight away and repair it before it leads to a more costly issue down the road.
If the chip or crack is minor, you can repair it on your own using the right materials, such as acrylic or polyurethane caulk, masonry, or elastomeric paint. But, once again, for cracks that appear too big for those methods to work, always consult a trusted professional for advice.
How to Paint Stucco: The Bottom Line
As you can see, when it comes to learning how to paint stucco, the process isn’t terribly complicated. Just like any siding, you want to ensure you apply a good primer (if needed) to your stucco to allow your paint a secure bond. But first, make sure you address issues like holes and cracks using the right materials.
Also, make sure you check your weather forecast before beginning. There’s nothing worse than rain or other conditions ruining all your hard work. We hope this guide helps you with your DIY project. Remember to stay safe and always carefully follow the directions for any material you apply to your home.
Check out our post on The Best Exterior Paints For Stucco
Check out our Exterior Painting page for even more information on exterior painting, paints, and products.
I started painting in 2001 and have seen just about everything in my painting career. I started in production and commercial painting, then moved over to new construction and remodeling during the boom of the early 2000s. Post 2010, I niched down into residential painting where I have done everything from exteriors, decks, interiors, furniture and more. Over the last few years, I’ve had a focus on kitchen cabinets.
I started the DIY Painting Tips blog in 2015 to start sharing everything I’ve learned over the years and help all the people who’d rather tackle their painting projects themselves.
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