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Improving Stucco Durability
by Nickie Ramm, EIT
Photos courtesy Building Diagnostics Inc.
OBSERVATIONS OF NUMEROUS
BUILDING ENVELOPE FAILURES IN
STUCCO (I.E. PORTLAND CEMENT
PLASTER) INDICATE IT MAY LACK
DURABILITY WHEN CORRECT
INSTALLATION PRACTICES ARE NOT
PERFORMED. ONE OF THE MOST COMMON
PROBLEMS IS CRACKED STUCCO—AND
WITH THE INCREASING TREND OF USING
THE MATERIAL AS A CLADDING, THE
SITUATION WILL LIKELY GET WORSE.
Historically, stucco has been a durable material,
so cracking is not inherent; rather, the observed
distress results from design and construction errors
such as poor consolidation, inadequate control
joints, or non-uniform thickness.
Hydration is essential to achieving durable stucco.
It is the principal mechanism of converting portland
cement into a solid binder. Improper hydration
leads to decreased strength development, layers’
delamination, and cracking. Hydration is attained
by incorporating proper curing methods during
56 the construction speciﬁer | january 2013
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