How to Create Stucco Walls for Your Home

This do-it-yourself project shows you how to create stucco walls for your home with these detailed step-by-step instructions on building stucco walls..

| December 1999/January 2000

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    Progression of steps: Studs and insulation sheetrock, sheating etc., masonry wire and roofing nails, rough scratch coat and smooth finish coat.
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    Sand type "N" mortar mix water Recipe: 3 parts sand, 1 part mortar mix. Chop thoroughly when dry. Carefully add water and mix with hoe to desired consistency.
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    Spread as you would icing on a cake.
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    Diagram: Top view of wall section.

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Learn how to create stucco walls for your home using these details instructions. (See the stucco wall diagrams in the image gallery.) 

Progression of Stucco Steps

"Aren't you sick of squares!" Carol exclaimed, summing up our feelings after framing and sheetrocking the main section of our saltbox-style home. Even though our wooden house in the forest blended nicely with the natural surroundings, its framing, siding and paneling all met at sharp angles and created flat surfaces.

When it came time to add on a bathroom, we laid a meandering stone foundation, at first ignoring the fact that all the materials on the job came in rectangles. We figured out how to frame and sheetrock curved walls on top of the stone work. We installed a roof system from rough-cut lumber . . . no easy task. But when finally it came time to choose a medium to seal our walls — one that would flow with the curves and the arched ceiling — we were left scratching our heads. I'd used mortar stucco for chinking log cabins and for flat exterior walls, so we decided to try it on the bathroom. The result is a classical masterpiece, complete with gentle, artistic curves and a gray earthy texture. And to top it off, it was affordable and fun to install.

The Materials

The basic stucco described here consists of a layer of masonry wire (also called diamond lathe) and two coats of mortar in order to create stucco walls for your home. The masonry wire provides a rigid structure upon which you put a "scratch" coat followed by a finish coat of mortar. Regardless of the surface to be covered — be it a flat or curved wall, a ceiling or a space between two logs — if you can shape and attach the masonry wire effectively over the surface, the stucco will adhere and stay put.

Masonry wire comes in sheets, and most general building or masonry supply yards stock it. Note that it doesn't usually come in the conventional 4 foot by 8 foot sheet size. In fact, the wire I encountered most recently came in 27 inch by 90 inch sheets, running $6.65 each, making it by far the most expensive part of the project. When tracking down the masonry wire, be sure to ask what size sheets are available so you can accurately figure out how many are needed. The stucco itself is a basic, super cheap mortar made of sand, which runs about $12 a ton around here, and mortar mix, which costs about $7 a bag.

To figure the amount of materials you'll need, first multiply the length times the height of the surface to he covered to get the total square footage. For example, if a wall to be stuccoed is 8 feet by 10 feet, that's 80 square feet. With wire sheeting in the 27 inch by 96 inch size, this would require five sheets. (Allowing for a slight overlap, each sheet covers 2 feet by 8 feet, or a total of 16 square feet; 80 divided by 16 gives us five sheets.) Figuring the amount of sand and mortar mix you'll need is not nearly as exact a science. In general, however, a ton of sand is a heavy load for the average pickup, and I figure on three bags of type "N" mortar mix to the ton (combined, this can easily cover 500 square feet). In our case, one bag of mortar mix and a third of a ton of sand provided more than enough stucco for our bathroom for about $12. With the extra, we'll be able to put in those horseshoe pits we've been wanting.

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