Stucco exterior wall finishing, whether synthetic or traditional, adds great aesthetic and curb appeal to your home that increases its value by up to 7 percent. Stucco is known to be durable, affordable, fire-resistant, and may earn you a 4 percent discount on your homeowner insurance policy. However, poorly installed stuccos are counterproductive as they quickly show cracks. stains, and molds. Leaving your project to a certified stucco mason nearby is a smart choice to get value for every dollar spent and ensure your stucco installation is done according to established standards. To select the most qualified hands for your job, it is necessary to ask stucco contractors near you the following questions:
Depending on the state or locality, your stucco contractor will hold a general contractor license, home improvement license, masonry license or a speciality license in construction works. States like California, Georgia, Minnesota, and Mississippi mandates a specialty trade license. While Arkansas, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Maryland require a home improvement license.
For states like Illinois, Kentucky, New York, and Oklahoma licensing is left to local city and county authorities. Collier County in Florida and Oklahoma City are some of the localities that issue specialized licenses to stucco contractors. In some localities, your stucco mason working as subcontractors under a licensed general contractor may not need to provide a license. This is the practice in the State of Arkansas and Marion County in Florida; where only registration is required. To determine the licensure requirements for stucco contractors near you, contact the state licensing board or the consumer protection agency.
Request to see a copy of your stucco contractor’s license or registration before you sign off on the paperwork. A license is a government mark of your contractor’s competence. You are at liberty to contact the licensing agency to determine the current status of such license.
Insisting on hiring a stucco mason with adequate bond and insurance cover is essential considering the frequency of casualties and defaults in the industry. In 2019 alone, building exterior construction workers, including stucco masons, witnessed over 23,000 non-fatal injuries and seven fatal injuries.
Liability insurance and workers compensation insurance are the minimum requirements for building contractors. Liability insurance provides for injuries to persons and damages to property that may happen in the course of your project. Workers’ compensation insurance covers the medical bills and part of income lost by insured laborers on your site.
Similarly, you cannot afford to leave a home improvement project half-done because of the mess and inconvenience it may bring to the occupants. Hence, hiring a stucco mason near you who holds a surety bond is essential. Here, the surety company bears the cost of getting your project finished as agreed in the original contract.
A cursory glance is not enough, make efforts to verify the insurance and bonding proofs presented by the contractor by contacting the issuing firms to determine the current validity of the documents.
Stucco installation work is of two major categories and you should ask a stucco contractor if they are specialized in one or both. The two kinds of stucco are:
- Traditional Stucco Installation: Traditional stucco is made from a mixture of Portland cement, hydrated lime, fine building sand, and water. It is the more affordable but less energy efficient of the two stucco categories. It is applied over a coat of wire mesh or lath base in two to three layers. Traditional stucco is hard on the feel and more ancient. It is more suitable for wet climates because of its porosity. Discuss with your stucco masons what your preferences are so that they can provide professional advice on the best option.
- Synthetic Stucco Installation: This type of stucco is also known as the Exterior Insulation And Finish Systems (EIFS). It involves applying a stucco mixture on an insulated board of foam which forms the base layer. The stucco layer is made from a mix of polymer-based or acrylic cement and a glass mesh. A textured finish is then applied to give a look in the semblance of traditional stucco. It is relatively more expensive but does a better job of saving energy costs. Synthetic stucco retains coloring more than traditional stucco, but is non-porous and prone to water damage. This may be taken care of by installing a sound water drainage system. A professional stucco mason will provide you with what the necessary maintenance requirements are and how to prevent rot or mold.
Stucco installation is usually labor-intensive, hence more hands that the contractor you have been talking to will be needed. These additional helpers may be apprentices, co-workers, or subcontractors. Encouraging your stucco contractor to bring in only colleagues that are near you may help reduce some costs. Also ensure only workers whose qualification, licensing, experience, and insurance status you have vetted are involved in your projects. Allowing untrained hands to get involved may cost you a lot in reparation expenses, and in the event of an accident or property damage, you will be held liable.
Service providers and product manufacturers issue warranties to demonstrate their belief in the quality of their product and service. Hence, highly proficient contractors near you will not hesitate to give you a warranty. Warranties spanning a given period will also serve as an agreement to rectify the defects and errors in a product or service identified within the time stated.
Stucco installation requires the highest quality of installation possible for optimum performance. Even when you hire a proven professional, they may still be prone to making mistakes, however rarely or minimally they occur. A service warranty from your stucco installation expert ensures that they will rectify post-installation problems due to defective or erroneous work.
Stucco is a mixture of materials such as cement and hydrated lime. A defective cement or lime material may lead to problems after installation. A warranty on either of these products may help you secure consequential damages from the manufacturers. Rarely do warranties cover stucco cracks. However, a good warranty should provide for delimitation, bubbling, or peeling off traceable to a manufacturing defect in stucco materials. However, a common condition for this type of warranty is that in-house stucco masons must have applied the stucco.
You, or your stucco mason, should ensure to buy only materials for use that carry good warranty contracts.
Most building construction and home improvement works must comply with state and local safety regulations. A permit, typically issued by the local government, ensures that a contract or work does not go against any building safety standards that are in effect. Ask your stucco mason what permit their job requires and whether they have obtained it.
You may be penalized by the local authority if your contractor is found working on a home improvement project without a necessary permit. You should not consider a contractor who downplays the importance of a permit. To determine if your current stucco project requires a license contact the local building authority office near you.
Assessing past stucco projects of a prospective stucco mason allows you to evaluate the quality of their work. You may also spot recurring errors in a mason’s job if you ask for at least three references as recommended by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). References are also helpful to identify contractors who are specialists in stucco work.
You can speak with the stucco mason’s past clients for feedback, especially the ones living near you. They will usually be willing to give you a more detailed review of the stucco mason's work, specifically as it concerns safety compliance, professionalism, and expertise.
For stucco masons who have a professional webpage and portfolio webpage, you can look at their professional history, experience, and job specialization. Internet-based review platforms such as Better Business Bureau, Yelp, and Google Business Review are excellent sources of honest business reviews.
A business license authorizes your stucco mason to offer their professional skill for payment. Contractors who carry a valid business license will usually have satisfied state or local requirements such as complete business registration, license validation, and tax filing. State and local government revenue or tax departments are typically in charge of issuing business licenses.
Asking for a business license is an excellent measure to avoid business imposter scams. Reach out to your state’s Office of Secretary of State to authentic any state-issued business license presented to you.
The importance of employed qualified and experienced hands near you for stucco work can not be overemphasized. Problems will usually arise if stucco is applied wrongly to your home and some of the most common ones include:
Rots and Moulds: Improperly installed stucco will cause mold to enter your home, spelling doom for the structure of your building and your health. Preventing mold build-up is the homeowner's responsibility. For those who have chosen stucco as their home's wall siding, they can avoid mold build-up by hiring only qualified and experienced hands. A stucco rot typically occurs when water seeps into a stucco walling without an escape route. The water intrusion results in a disintegration of the home's walls. This can usually be traceable to a failed Water Resistant Base System (WRBS).
- Cracks: The slightest crack on your stucco home is a window for water to seep in and cause more damage. Cracks most commonly arise from poor installation and/or maintenance. It is advisable to call on a professional stucco mason once you sight a crack on your stucco home
- Stains: Stucco wall-stains are usually caused by water retention on spots on the stucco wall, which may eventually turn dark. Rainfall is the primary cause of staining, and stucco is best preserved by keeping water away from it.
- Inadequate spacing: Stucco walls must not be wedged into the home's foundation as this is a precursor to a stucco failure. Stucco walls need enough space to drain moisture. Otherwise, there will be moisture retention which will lead to rots, molds build-up, and cracking.
The cost of applying stucco on a home of around 1,500 square feet ranges between $8,000 and $11,100, depending on the state where the project is to be executed. This cost is an overall estimate, covering pre-installation activities (such as area preparation), installation, and post-installation activities (such as cleaning). An estimate of a further breakdown of the total cost is given below:
The cost of installing a stucco wall is primarily determined by the type of stucco you would like to install and labor costs. Some other factors that influence what you might pay for your stucco work include:
- Type of building: It will typically cost more for stucco masons to apply stucco on homes with two or more floors than to a bungalow.
- Cost of materials: Depending on the type of stucco installed, the cost of additional materials will compound the total project cost. For example, to install a synthetic stucco, the total project cost will be affected by the cost of wall insulation and the cost of laying the final texture coat.
To help reduce the costs of labor, material carriage and other logistics expenses, consider hiring contractors near you who are conversant with the local market.
Stucco masons' knowledge and skill requirements are better met under apprenticeship and technical college instruction. The job of stucco masons requires specialized knowledge including:
- Construction materials, methods, and tools
- Design principles, techniques, and tools
- Basic communication skills and customer service
In addition to the minimum job qualifications, professional associations such as the International Masonry Training and Education Foundation (IMTEF), the EIFS Members Industry Association (EMIA), and the Masonry Contractors Association of America (MCAA) offer various trainings and education and certification programs to stucco contractors.
There are several dangers in trying to cut costs by hiring handypersons near you to handle your stucco project instead of trained stucco masons. First, because stucco may only be correctly installed by skilled hands, hiring handymen may be tantamount to incurring substantial reparation expenses in the not too distant future.
Also, hiring unqualified hands for a home building project exposes you to safety risks. For instance, if due to bad installation, your stucco wall does not drain but instead retains moisture, this exposes the occupants of the home to dangers in the long run, as a result of the weakened structure.
Furthermore, a poorly done stucco job will do damage to your efforts to save energy costs as a result of poor insulation. Your decision to hire an expert stucco mason will ensure you get a standard and safety-compliant job, in addition to a warranty cover in the event that you find defects in the work done.
After stucco application has been completed, you may choose to put some durability measures in place to preserve the lifespan of your new home improvement. Some of these include:
- Coloring Stucco Wall: Yes, you may choose to add color to your new stucco wallings right after installation or after a long period if you get bored of the look.
- Removing Efflorescence: When moisture is left for long on a stucco walling, it develops into a white stain known as "efflorescence". This can usually be taken care of by applying white vinegar to the stain spot and allowing your wall to soak it in before rinsing it off.
- Debris and Dirt Removal: Another maintenance measure is not to allow the collection of dirt and debris on your stucco walling. This can be done by scrubbing off these specks of dirt with a semi-hard bristle brush and rinsing with a garden hose.
- Installing Gutters and Waterspouts: Two significant weaknesses of stucco are water and a settling foundation. Foundation settling is most commonly caused by soil movement, which may be checked by installing good gutters around your property. Waterspouts can also be installed to collect and direct rainwater into the gutters and away from your wall.
Homeowner insurance policies typically provide financial coverage for destruction or property loss arising from events such as fire, burglary, vandalism, and similar covered perils. Projects that are executed as part of a home improvement are typically not covered by homeowner insurance policies. However, expenses for stucco work which is a rectification of damage caused by fire, storm, or any covered peril will be paid by homeowner insurance.
A common condition for a homeowner insurance plan to cover your stucco reparation expenses is that it must have been installed by a licensed and certified professional. Another requirement is that the damage must have been discovered after you purchased the policy. A homeowner insurance policy will not cover damages that were in place before you bought the policy.
More and more contractors across the US, including stucco masons near you, are accepting digital payments these days. Since digital payments do not require physical cash handling, they are known for being safe, stable, easy, fast, and inexpensive. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) advises against paying contractors in cash and keeping invoice receipts safely. Digital transaction documents are simple to access and are not easily destroyed since they are stored digitally.