Stucco and exterior siding are typically called “cladding.”
Your home’s cladding is supposed to protect the structure of your home, primarily by preventing damage from water and the elements. There are many types of cladding, from stucco to wood or vinyl siding (to name a few).
And though stucco is far more common in southwestern states, and Florida, some homes in the area may also have stucco for their cladding.
Stucco is basically cement and sand.
It is applied by installing the “weep screed” and “lath” (paper and wire), which are applied first. The paper forms a water resistive barrier (WRB). The WRB is part of the walls drainage plain. Incorrect installation, or too many penetrations into this material, will allow water to migrate into the wall and can lead to moisture intrusion, mold and microbial growth.
The wire supports the stucco when it is applied and helps to give it strength. Without the wire the stucco would fall off (or not stay on at all).
The “weep screed” is installed at the bottom of the wall, and clearance from the weep screed to hardscape or soil must be maintained (2″ to hardscape, 4″ to soil) or the wall may not drain correctly.
When inspecting the stucco I look for correct clearances, flashed (or not) penetrations.
Cracking of the stucco is very common. In fact, you can probably expect to see cracking at some time with this material. Though cracks are normal, if there is any displacement or the cracks are more than 1/16 of an inch wide those conditions may be an indication of more severe problems.
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