Confused in Charlotte

Because there is no sheathing, do I need to have the stucco pulled off and replaced ?

Reggie - I live in Charlotte, NC and recently bought a 30 year old Tudor style house that has brick and stucco skin. I have talked to several builders about making a significant addition to the house and many of them have recommended removing all of the existing stucco and replacing it. The stucco application appears different from much of the discussion on your web site.

The plaster/stucco was applied to several layers of 1" square wire grid which is sandwiched between brown paper (with the appearance and texture of a grocery bag). I gather that the wire/paper would have come in rolls and was nailed directly to the 2x4 framing. The original builder did not use any OSB/Plywood sheathing. In most places the stucco is hard as a rock, although there are some places where the stucco approaches the foundation dirt where there is significant cracking. No expansion joints are to be found even on the larger spans. The house is built on a crawlspace (block piers, brick curtain wall).

Three questions: (1) What type of stucco do you believe that I have? (2) because there is no sheathing, do I need to have the stucco pulled off and replaced? and (3) Should I try to replicate the existing stucco installation on the new addition or go with newer technology?.

Thanks for your help. You've done a great job in creating an informative and entertaining web site.

Nothing wrong with your stucco

The truth is , you don't need sheathing at all. It does make a stiffer wall. When I was in California, the houses didn't have sheathing at all but "speed braces" diagonal metal straps at both the inside and out side corners. Tarpaper and lath was pulled tight and stapled to the studs.

They quit using "speed braces" here in Virginia shortly after they were introduced.

I am suprised that this house was only built 30 years ago. The paper backing and the welded wire lath was used commonly in the 1920's and 30's.

I think both materials are superior to what we use today.

People didn't use expansion joints 70 years ago, so I don't see why they need them today. I think they are ugly, and I doubt they work as good as people think.

I don't understand why you would tear off the old stucco if it is in good shape. If the stucco has never been painted, it can be resurfaced. A few little cracks can be filled if the existing house will be painted.

Our main source of work is matching the stucco on an addition to the old house. This is what my talent is. I don't see why you would want to tear off the stucco to replace it with probably an inferior material.

If you cruise my site, all we do is the old fashioned way, and I think all these new materials are a bunch of crap so I don't work with them.

The truth is, it is hard to find people experienced in the old methods. If you can find someone, it is no doubt you would have a superior product by preserving the old stucco and matching it.