Cracks in stucco

Ask the pros- February, 2002
By Reggie Bullard


                     I have read everything you have done on your web-site since July.  I still have a few questions.  We bought our stucco home 5
  years ago; it was two years old at that time.  The inspector mentioned that there were some cracks, though did not recommend any fixing. 
  1.  Do the cracks have to be a certain width to be of any significance?  Do they have to be in a certain position (ie leading from a window or door frame?). 
  2.  Talking of window frames, we have noticed that there is some brownish stain running from the bottom corners of some of our
  windows, but not all.  Is this a problem? 
  3.  As we are not the original owners of the house, do we still have recourse to the builder and/or his insurance company if a
  significant problem arises, and what is the usual time limit for this - 10 years from construction, 20, 5? 
  4.  We live in Minnesota, the land of extremes, however we are English, where stucco houses are seriously outnumbered by brick
  ones, so we have absolutely no experience of this siding.  A friend of ours mentioned that stucco applied during the very cold
  winter months was more likely to cause problems later on.  Is this true?  Our house was finished in April, so I presume the stucco
  could well have been applied in winter. 
  I would appreciate your expert advice.

Stucco is likely to crack, we have found ways 
to reduce the cracking to very few or none, but it still is 
likely to crack. 
Hairline cracks form over the windows and doors because  it is the weakest spot in the plaster membrane. 
These should be of no significance, because water is absorbed  into the stucco before it reaches the substrate. I would think  these are probably less than an eighth of an inch and are nothing  to worry about unless the stucco is loose underneath. 

Stains will happen. This material stains easily like bricks and  concrete. This is probably from the lumber, or maybe the  paint was applied in cold weather. To prevent stains, you  need to get to the root of the problem. 

If you had any freezing, it would show up as delamination  (mortar popping off) or effloresence( mortar bubbling up  and powder on the surface. Usually, the stucco contractor has  better sense than to apply materials when there is a danger  of freezing. Up north, people will build heat tents to work  outside. I just wait until it's warm Here that statute of repose is 1 year, except in fraud ( I think). Still, there is no guarantee against cracks.
It sounds like everything is  all right. 
Your stucco should last 500 years or so. 

Don't worry. Be happy. 

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