Building Code for Stucco
I need your help.My brother in law built a house in Atlanta Georgia and I went on the note to help him.the new owners of this house are real gold diggers and they are stateing that the stucco was not put on per code and have hired some expert to state, that he did not put enough expansion joints on the building and weep holes. Now my brother in law has left me holding the bag on the law suit that goes to mediation on wed . My expert says it is a great job and it is how 90% of all houses with hard stucco are done but it does not meet code.My question is what is code on expansion joints on hard stucco and why is not inforced. He did not place joints all over the building because of taste . Expansion joints were placed from the windows down.The house after 3 years has received only minor hair line cracking which I like. I will pay you for your feedback
There are few building codes for stucco, and stucco is rarely inspected. I only saw stucco inspected in California, where there are strict building codes. This is probably necessary in a state where so many buildings have stucco. Stucco isn't inspected and doesn't have to conform to codes here in Virginia.
The only code I could find from your state, Georgia, is that metal trims for stucco should be made from non-corrosive material. I doubt any type of inspection is required. There is no code applying to spacing of expansion joints, or the necessity.
In Virginia, there is no code applying to stucco at all, contrary to popular belief. There is a code in Fairfax County requiring inspection of EIFS, even though I doubt that it is ever enforced.
I don't use expansion joints unless customers insist, because I think they are ugly. I think they are particulary distasteful in historic work and on old houses, because expansion joints didn't exist until the 1950's. Yes, the world got along fine without them.
Nearly all expansion joints are put on wrong, anyway. Expansion joints are to be put on first, then the metal lath cut to fit. That is, the joint bridges a break in the lath. Without doing this, Mortar will squish behind the lath defeating the expansion qualities. A true expansion joint is put over a break in the framing and sheathing. I have never seen this done. I have to admit, all the suspended stucco ceilings we did years ago didn't have a break in the framing. At least we put on the joints first, before the lath.
A great resource for metal lath and expansion joints is from AMICO. Alabama metal is one of the largest producers of lath, and probably the largest in the Eastern United States.
You can download the AMICO manual on lath and joints here:
AMICO differentiates between an Expansion Joint (E.J.) and an Architectural Joint (A.J.). An architectural Joint can be put over the lath because it is just for a decorative feature and not for expansion. Believe it or not someone may like the appearance of the joints.
If a stucco finish coat isn't put on continuously, it could leave a nasty join, or a place where the finish starts and stops. Fortunately, I have a big enough crew with the skills to usually pull down a whole wall with out stopping.
The Portland Cement Association recommends an expansion joint every 20 feet, a recommendation I don't follow. I at least follow the recommendation of two layers of tar paper, that I have never seen followed.
Northwest Wall and Ceiling Bureau
The Northwest Wall and Ceiling Bureau and AMICO both recommend additional flashing and paper behind the Expansion Joints to prevent rot.
We have found rot in failed stucco and one coat stucco where this practice isn't followed. In most cases the expansions do more harm than good.