What is Commercial Stucco?

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  • Written By: B. Turner
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 14 January 2019
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Commercial stucco is a type of construction material used to finish the exterior walls of a building. It shares many characteristics with plaster, but plaster is primarily used indoors while stucco is designed for outdoor applications. While traditional stucco products consist of lime, sand, and water, commercial stucco contains a number of added synthetic materials. Man-made polymers and epoxy replace the traditional stucco components and increase the strength and durability of the application. Many people in the construction industry refer to this material as EIFS, pronounced eee-fuss, which stands for exterior insulation and finish system.

Installers apply commercial stucco using a trowel, after which the material hardens as it dries. Commercial stucco can be applied over almost any type of surface, including masonry or wood sheathing. One of the primary advantages of this material is that it can be applied over uneven or damaged surfaces in order to improve the appearance of the surface. For maximum performance, installers typically trowel the stucco onto cement board or engineered panels, which are fastened to the exterior of the building prior to application.


Proper insulation and moisture protection are critical to a successful stucco application. Foam insulation panels are often added prior to installation to improve thermal resistance. A moisture or vapor barrier is then added to the surface to keep rain and other sources of moisture out. Any moisture allowed to penetrate the stucco can become trapped over time, as commercial stucco is much less porous than regular stucco. This trapped moisture can rot wood framing or contribute to mold and mildew problems.

Compared to traditional stucco products, commercial stucco offers a much higher degree of flexibility. This allows the finish to absorb some level of building movement without cracking or failing over time. Commercial stucco also provides many design options, and can be shaped and molded to create unique finishes. It adds texture and depth to walls, and dries quickly. Synthetic stucco also offers a high degree of insulation, resulting in a more energy efficient building.

Despite its many advantages, commercial stucco is also associated with a number of potential drawbacks. It costs much more than lime-based stucco, and requires a greater level of skill from installers. It's also relatively new compared to traditional stucco, which has been used for centuries throughout the world. While commercial stucco shows promise in terms of longevity and strength, little is known about its long-term performance.



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