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What Are The Different Types Of Stucco?

What Are The Different Types Of Stucco

Stucco has been a popular choice for buildings throughout the world, because it can be used for stylizing facades and adding a pop of intrigue and color. Commonly made from Portland cement plaster, stucco can be applied to walls and other surfaced within and outside of buildings. The material is very durable, is fire-retardant, requires little maintenance when professionally installed, and can even be mixed to create various textures and finishes. 

Are you someone who is considering stucco for the interior or exterior of your home? Knowing the different application systems and styles will help you when meeting the contractor. You can also decide which visual finish is best for the aesthetic of your home. 

Here is everything you need to know about different stucco: 

Different Types of Stucco

There are two main types of stucco: traditional and synthetic. 

Traditional Stucco

Traditional stucco is comprised of sand, lime, and water. Nowadays, stucco is mixed with cement. By adding cement, stucco becomes far more durable. Lime, on the other hand, makes stucco easier to mold. Sometimes, glass fibers and acrylics are added to traditional stucco to reinforce it and make it strong. Pure cement stucco is rather hard, and if a stable mesh base, known as lath, is not applied, the stucco will crack. Traditional stucco is excellent because of its versatility. The exterior can be smoothed or roughened. When applied professionally and maintained, stucco can about 50 years. 

Synthetic Stucco

Unlike traditional stucco, synthetics does not use cement and lime. Rather, synthetics use acrylic resin that is resistant to water damage. Synthetic stucco dries evenly, quickly, and can be applied over foam board, rather then over mesh. The acrylic resin also adds movement to stucco, making it less prone to cracking and breaking. 

Different Stucco Finishes

Similar to stucco styles, there are finishes that can add more to the cladding that all have advantages and disadvantages. 

Float or Sand

The most common finish for stucco of commercial buildings would be “float” or “sand.” This is a versatile finish that can be used on both traditional and synthetic stucco and is applied with a single coat. When people want to get the job done quickly, float/sand finish is ideal because you only need that one coat for complete coverage. It can also be sprayed on or applied with a trowel. Float or sand has coarse, fine, and medium patches. 


Dash is sprayed onto homes with a light, medium, or heavy volume. Dash is a unique look, and it can be changed with 1-3 coats. This kind of finish is available for both traditional and synthetic, and it can be a great option for homeowners who are concerned with cracking. 

Lace and Skip

When you visualize a stucco finish on homes, it is usually lace and skip. This kind of finish is used with both commercial and residential buildings. Lace and skip is rough. Imperfections are easily hidden due to the variations in the texture. Lace and skip is applied either with a hand or sprayed on and flattened with trowel. First, you put on the base coat, and then there is a fine, medium, or coarse pattern to choose from. 


Want to add a little aged sophistication to your home? Add this finish. The English finish is usually found on older buildings, but it is sometimes placed on newer construction, too. English, however, can only be applied to traditional stucco.

Santa Barbara

Used only in traditional stucco application, Santa Barbara uses fine sand particles to develop an adobe look. Colored sand can be used to create variations, but if you don’t want variations in the coating, you can paint Santa Barbara finishes. It is also very smooth when finished, but this can cause very visible cracking. 

Cat Face

Cat face features large areas of smoothed sections and evenly placed rough patches. The rough sections are called “inclusions,” these vary in size and shape. Cat face is ideal of either traditional and synthetic, and any homeowner can have it on their home. The best part is that your cat face finish can be completely different than your neighbor’s. 

Smooth Texture

Although smooth texture is one of the most difficult finishes to achieve, it is becoming increasingly popular. Smooth texture can be colored, mottled, and can be customized to fit the aesthetics of your house or office. Smooth texture finish works best with synthetic stucco, but it can be applied to a fine cement traditional stucco as well. 


Also known as “putz” and “swirl” finish, worm was once popular but is not seen as often anymore. Large pieces of aggregate in stucco requires the trowel being moved across the surface, so the aggregate leaves indents in the surface of the stucco. Because of this, every home with a worm finish is different. However, worm can be difficult to patch up when it cracks. 

Stucco Application Systems


1-Coat Stucco Hard Coat System

A single coat stucco system is sometimes known as a 2-coat system that consists of a cement base. Foam is also applied. 

3-Coat Stucco Hard Coat System

The usual 3-coat system consists of a water resistant barrier typically made from asphalt-infused paper, then other layers of wire, a scratch and brown layer, and a finish coat or primer. The cement base coat is usually about 7/8”. 

EIFS Stucco Systems

EIFS stands for “Exterior Insulation and Finish System.” These do not require hard coats and use thinner layers. EIFS assemblies were made to keep water on the outside of the building. Hard coats can absorb water, on the other hand. 

Another kind of EIFS would be those with an added water management layer that is referred to as a moisture or air barrier. 

Wrapping It Up

Stucco has numerous benefits, regardless of the type, finish, and application system. Stucco as a siding works to reduce noise, is energy-efficient, and provides great versatility. Now that you know the different types of stucco and finishes available, you should be able to choose which kind of stucco is going to do its best for your home. Whatever kind of style you want, there’s a stucco for that. 

Want to learn more about stucco siding? Have questions about which stucco cladding type is right for you? Fill out the contact form to receive more information!

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