Removing frozen stucco

Ask the pros- March, 2002
By Reggie Bullard


 The stucco sub for my new home applied cement on a cold, windy day with temps dropping from 40 to 20 overnight.  After I questioned him, he removed a lot of brown coat the same day and says he will clean remaining loose cement off the scratch coat before restarting.  One portion of brown coat, however, remains.  In that portion are two volleyball size spots that are soft.

   Here are my questions: If the remaining portion is hard, is it okay to
 patch the soft spots and keep the rest, or should we assume the entire
 wall is compromised and tear it down?... (we’re talking about a couple
 hundred square feet)

    Is the cleaned-off scratch coat probably okay as a base, if hard? (another couple of hundred feet).  Should areas of scratch coat showing slight softness be stripped and started over?

   He has been hydrating the walls since the freeze (but did none on wall
 portions completed before the freeze).  Will the stucco that seems hard be good, or do we now have substandard stucco?

     What a mess…  Thanks for your thoughts!

   About the only way to make sure you get all the frozen mortar off is with a hose or a broom.  Frozen mortar is powdery stuff which can prevent a good bond. If you use a hose and the wall is saturated, it may take days to dry out,
particularly in cold weather

   A couple of volleyballs aren't too bad so you may get by with just a good scraping.

   I hope I never have this depressing experience again. We had to scrape the whole side of a house when the scratch coat got hit by freezing rain. I had a finish coat pop off once several years ago when we put the finish over a frozen brown coat .

   The scratch coat is never as hard as your brown coat, the fact is you may be able to scrape your scratch coat easily with a nail (even in warm weather) and not your brown coat.

   The give away on frozen mortar is the color- a dead body grey that you can  spot a mile away. By now you know the color and should be able to detect it.

    It sounds to me like everything is OK except the volley balls. Tearing stucco off is a real real chore, and it doesn't sound necessary.
     The frozen mortar should come off the scratch coat with a hose and plenty of pressure, but again you'll have a delay waiting for the wall to dry.
   I don't see any good at all to hydrate the wall if it is too cold for water to evaporate.
   At least when it is cold you don't have any shrinkage cracks.
    Don't worry be happy.                                                                               

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