Q: I am considering buying a house built between 1910 and 1920. The stucco siding is cracked and falling away in several places and I'm afraid that the damage could be worse than meets the eye. How can I determine how large the job would be? How do I repair and reapply the stucco properly?

— Janet, Wappingers Falls, NY

A: Tom Silva replies: Your first order of business is to inspect the wall visually for cracks. As you walk around the house, tap the stucco and listen for hollow sections that may be deteriorating.

When contemplating the purchase of a home, you should also enlist the services of a reputable home inspector who can identify any hidden flaws or damage in house. After your inspection, you might decide the damage is too extensive for you to tackle on your own and you may decide not to buy the house.

If you take the plunge, the first step in stucco repair is clearing away any loose sections. Then prepare a mortar or a stucco mix. Apply three thin coats, two scratch coats, and one finish.
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