Hard coat stucco is the traditionally used form of stucco and has only recently been distinguished from a synthetic alternative called Exterior Insulation and Finish System (EIFS) stucco. Hard coat is a traditional and time honored means of creating a wall surface. It generally consists of plaster (which in turn consists of lime and sand), water, and more recently Portland cement.

History of hard coat stucco

Stucco is one of the oldest building materials known and was used as far back as 4000 BC in ancient Sumeria. In times of antiquity it was mainly used as both an interior and exterior coating for stone structures. It was placed directly over masonry both to seal it and to create a finished and decorative wall surface.

Hard Coat StuccoIn early times stucco was applied in two thin coats. Starting in the 19th century however, this type of stucco began to be applied in 3 coats, increasing its stability and durability. In wood construction from the early 19th to 20th centuries it was often applied over wooden ribs or strips known as lath. The lath strips help to give the stucco grabbing power and structural integrity.

Today hard coat stucco continues to be used as mainly an exterior wall covering. It is often placed over either concrete block or wood frame with wire or plastic mesh laths.

Application of hard coat stucco

As noted, traditional stucco was applied in 3 coats. The first is known as a scratch coat and provides a foundational base for the stucco. The second coat, known as the brown coat, is applied to the first and builds the stucco in thickness and durability. The final coat, called the finish coat, is applied last and is either floated or troweled to create various textures. This last coat may consist of either a color coat – stucco with various coloring agents mixed in – or maystucbe an acrylic based finish. The latter is a more recent development and has a superior sealing capacity and durability than traditional stucco.
More recently, a stucco type called one coat stucco has been developed. It is something of a misnomer in that it usually is applied in two coats rather than one. But it does dispense with some of the labor involved in more traditional three coat stucco. As noted, stucco applied today is most often placed over wire or plastic mesh laths which are nailed directly to wood framing or affixed to concrete block.

Home Improvement Uses of Hard Coat Stucco

Hard coat stucco can be used in a variety of ways in home improvement. The following are a few of its possible uses:

To Dress up Concrete Block Construction

Since this type of stucco goes on quite well over concrete, it can be used to create an attractive and durable finish over drab and dull concrete block construction. For instance, it can be used over the concrete block walls of a garage or shed to make it into a much more stylish and classy structure. This will also help seal the block from outside moisture.

As a form of Replacement Siding

Let's say a house has old vinyl, aluminum, clapboard, or shake siding that is in disrepair. This siding can be removed, mesh lath can be affixed to the plywood or plank sheathing, and stucco can be applied. This will, assuredly, give the house quite a different appearance from before. But this is a durable, good looking, and generally low maintenance siding that will be strong and moisture resistant for many years to come. Stucco also breathes, and thus allows an appropriate amount of ventilation which protects wood from mildew and rot.

On New Construction

Hard coat stucco is also good as an initial choice of siding for new construction. If you plan to build an addition, shed, or even a house from scratch, consider hard coat stucco as an option. Especially with an acrylic finish coat, which does an even better job than older finish coats in resisting cracking over time, it will prove a durable and versatile finish. It can be colored and textured to choice and will require little or no maintenance if properly installed.

Hard coat stucco is a famous, old means of creating exterior and in some cases interior walls. It continues today as one of the best siding materials overall.