Many stucco homes in Pennsylvania have begun experiencing major problems due to moisture. These problems, when left unattended, grow in severity to the point that some homeowners have actually seen their walls begin to buckle. The solution to this problem is stucco remediation, and it involves much, much more than simply repairing or resurfacing your stucco. That presents an interesting question: How can moisture-damaged stucco be remediated to avoid having the same problems show up again?
Removing the Damaged Materials
Stucco remediation involves removal of the stucco and the damaged materials from the walls of your home. This can include materials damaged by mold and mildew, as well as structural lumber and plywood that has begun to rot. This also includes any materials that may have come into contact with mold, including insulation and OSB board. The true extent of the potential damage to your home is not known until this step is completed.
Locating the Source of the Problems
One of the key aspects of effective stucco remediation is taking the time to determine the source(s) of the problems. It’s not enough to just replace damaged materials and apply a fresh layer of stucco; if you do not track down how the moisture or water is getting in, you run the risk of it happening again. A responsible remediation company will carefully evaluate the damage to determine where the problems originate rather than merely tearing out the damage and replacing everything. In addition, every home is different and will present with varying issues and challenges. A skilled remediation company can evaluate the damage as it is discovered and quickly narrow down the most likely causes so they can be thoroughly addressed during remediation.
Reapplying the Stucco
After all the damaged materials have been removed and the appropriate lumber, plywood, and other materials have been replaced, the next step is the installation of fresh stucco. Properly installed stucco involves several layers, such as this very effective six-layer approach:
- Asphalt paper
- Rain barrier that creates a permanent air gap
- 3 separate layers of stucco
This method has been proven effective at preventing moisture intrusion problems and represents the latest in stucco-application developments.
It’s not enough to just reapply stucco, however. OSB boards must be replaced and care must be taken at critical areas such as windows, doors, the meeting place of the stucco and the foundation, and points where water runs off the roof. These areas often contain the root causes of the moisture intrusion, and regularly need to be corrected to ensure no recurrence of the problem.
Addressing Critical Areas with Proper Tools
To prevent moisture intrusion from becoming a problem again, there are some features that must be installed in critical areas; failure to use these features in the first place is often the cause of repeat problems down the line. For example, metal flashing (including kick-out flashing and step flashing) must be installed correctly to create a water-tight seal. It should be used over all windows and all doors. Kick-out flashing (which may be a relatively new term to some) should be used at wall intersections where the roof line does not extend past the stucco wall, or where the lower roof line actually runs into the stucco wall.
Multiple layers of Tyvek or tar paper should be used around the windows and other openings to further discourage moisture intrusion. It should be installed under sides and bottom window flanges and then paper should be sealed with either tape or caulk. Paper should also be used at the top of the wall, not just at the soffit line.
To allow water to drain out, weep screeds should be used at the bottom of the stucco, and any stucco installed directly on the foundation or the ground should make use of weep screeds or paper. Other tools for fighting moisture intrusion may include drip caps, flex flashing, water barriers, or water-deterring spray.
Note that your remediation company may recommend the installation of rain gutters if appropriate. These can help channel rainwater away from problem areas as long as the gutters are maintained and kept clean. You may also be advised to remove landscaping that is in contact with the stucco walls, as this can cause moisture to be trapped against the wall. You will likely be told to avoid pressure washing your stucco walls later on.
Why Stucco Remediation?
Stucco remediation is a complex but effective process when done correctly. It involves the removal of the stucco and all damaged materials found within the walls. Once the problem areas have been identified, fresh stucco is applied and features such as flashing, paper, and weep screeds are carefully installed. The homeowner may also be advised to install rain gutters, be careful with the use of landscaping close to the stucco walls, and avoid using pressure washers for cleaning. Once completed, a properly done stucco remediation should successfully prevent moisture intrusion and provide you with a stucco exterior that will last for many decades.
The most important factor in a successful stucco remediation, however, is the company you hire. It is vital to hire a quality contractor with a solid reputation for honesty, experience, and skilled workmen. At a McNamara Masonry, we have over 18 years of experience and perform high-quality stucco resurfacing using a reliable six-layer approach. We are so confident in our approach to stucco remediation that we stand behind our work by offering a 5 Year Labor & Materials Warranty. When it comes time to repair moisture damage, be sure to go with the pros.