As a homeowner, you may notice that your stucco walls are beginning to crack, but when is it time to repair stucco cracks? When does repair become necessary?
Stucco cracks are fairly common. Anyone with stucco walls will tell you that cracks seem to be a way of life for them. If you have stucco, you need to understand how the cracks come about, and when you’ll need to repair them.
Here’s a guide to what’s causing them, how to repair them, and when to repair stucco cracks.
Types of Stucco Cracks
There are several types of cracks that will occur in stucco walls. They come about due to different factors, and these will inform how you repair stucco cracks.
Here’s what you should be looking for, to identify the types of cracks you have in your stucco.
- Hairline Cracks: These cracks are very thin, usually about 1/16 of an inch wide or smaller. These are the most common types of cracks that you’ll see. They come about for several different reasons. They’re most common in new homes, as the plaster settles and moves during construction. Drying timber, shifting foundations, and construction work will all sometimes lead to hairline cracks.
- Foam Trim Cracks: The foam trim used on stucco will sometimes form cracks too. If you see cracking here, it’s a sign that fiberglass mesh tape wasn’t used in installing the foam trim. Expansion and shrinkage will then lead to cracking over time.
- Spider Cracking: These cracks in your stucco look like spider webs, hence the name. If you’re seeing this in your stucco, it’s a sign that the base coat wasn’t allowed to cure properly. This could be because there was too much water in the mix, it dried too quickly, or the temperature wasn’t right the day it was applied.
- Pattern Cracking: You may see cracking that follows a pattern on your walls. Most commonly, it shows up as a grid of horizontal and vertical lines on your stucco. This cracking happens because there are problems with the way the lath was installed. It’s probably not nailed on properly, which will lead to more cracks over time.
- Diagonal Cracking: These cracks, as the name implies, are diagonal in nature, and often are seen around doors and windows. These happen due to seismic changes in the foundation, leading to them shifting. If these cracks are wider than other cracks on your stucco, you’ll want to attend to these first.
When to Repair Stucco Cracks
So, if you’ve seen cracks in your stucco, when should you repair them?
The answer simply is, as soon as possible.
Even if you’ve seen a small crack appear, you should attend to it right away. It may only be small now, but before long it could spread and cause more issues down the line. If you fill it in now, you’ll stop that crack in its tracks.
As well as this, you’ll need to ensure that you’re protecting your home. If there are cracks in the stucco, water can get into them and cause problems with mold and dampness. These are difficult to fix if you don’t catch them in time, so the sooner you fix that crack, the better.
How to Repair Cracks
The methodology for repairing cracks in your stucco will depend on how the crack has come about.
- If it’s a hairline crack, then you can safely just fill it in to prevent the crack from spreading.
- If it’s a diagonal crack or a patterned crack, then you’ll need to do more work, or call in experts, to help you fix the problem.
When dealing with a hairline crack, it’s not too hard to fix. You can buy plenty of products in your local hardware store that will help you fill it in. Talk to the staff there, if you’re not sure about which one you should buy.
The most common products are an acrylic caulk that you can use to fill in the gaps.
- You’ll need to widen the crack to about a quarter of an inch wide, and then clear out any debris with a wire brush.
- Then, fill in the crack with the mixture and a standard caulk gun.
- Let the caulk cure for 24 hours, then paint over it with a water based paint.
When to Call the Pros
With pattern cracks, the lath underneath the stucco needs to be repaired or replaced. This does mean that the stucco will need to be removed, so it can be accessed. Once the lath has been secured properly, new stucco will need to be applied over it.
In the case of large or diagonal cracks, it’s likely that there’s an issue with the foundation of your home. In these cases, you’ll need to call in professionals to handle the foundation first, or you’ll just see more, worsening cracks over time. Call in an expert to check your foundation, and see how it can be fixed.
How to Prevent Future Cracking of Stucco
Now that any cracks in your stucco have been fixed, you want to ensure that you can prevent any more cracks from appearing.
How can you ensure you won’t have to do more stucco repair work in the future?
It’s all in how the stucco is applied, so if you want the best results, you’ll need to apply new stucco.
- Ensure that a good water resistant barrier is used in the stucco, to avoid water damage and resulting cracks.
- Properly installed lath is essential to avoid cracks too.
There are installation methods that will reduce cracks too. Ask your construction team about control joints, casing beads and corner beads. These all work to reduce stress on the stucco, reducing the risk of cracking overall.
If you’re careful and keep a close eye on your stucco, you can prevent any major problems from happening. Tackle minor cracks when you see them, and they won’t crack further and cause more problems for you. With stucco cracks, it’s always best to tackle them as soon as you see them.
If they’re larger or more complicated than you thought, then call in an expert to take a look at them.
This way, you’ll keep your stucco in good condition for years to come.