Introduction

using a finishing trowel on second coat of stucco
Photo: Reena Bammi
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At first glance, the seamless coat of stucco on the East Boston house looked as bulletproof as a sidewalk, the perfect foil against the harsh wet weather of this coastal city. Yet beneath its lush cloak of ivy, the cement shell was a mess of cracks and buckling, signs that water had gotten in and damaged the underlying wood lath.

When properly installed, stucco (a cement- or lime-based plaster) is about as carefree and long-lived a cladding as anyone could wish—100 years is not uncommon. But when big cracks or blisters appear, the time to make repairs is right away, before the damage grows.

Antonio DiSilva of MJM Masonry performed the remedial work on the East Boston house over ten days, ripping off loose material and patching it with three separate coats. Here's how to make stucco repair that lasts.
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    Tools List

    • drywall knife
      4-inch drywall knife,
      used to scrape off loose stucco
    • wire brush
      Wire brush,
      for cleaning scraped wall surfaces
    • flat blade shovel
      Shovel,
      used to mix stucco
    • wheelbarrow
      Mortar trough or wheelbarrow,
      for mixing stucco
    • plaster hawk
      Hawk,
      used to hold stucco while working
    • mason's trowel
      Trowel,
      for applying stucco to wall
    • rubber float
      Rubber float,
      used to smooth stucco patch

    Shopping List

    1. Portland cement
    one 94-lb. bag

    2. Brick or Mason’s sand

    3. Hydrated lime

    4. Acrylic bonding agent

    5. Builder’s paper
    Grade D

    6. Plastic sheeting

    7. Expanded metal lath
    (aka diamond mesh)

    8. Duct tape