View Full Version : Need advice for drainage around stucco

DeeJay McC
11-12-2020, 08:49 PM
Hi, New here. Homeowner, not a pro. I'm looking for advice regarding the best way to care for the stucco on my home and wondering about bubbling on the finish coat in a couple of places.

I've read many threads on here but uncertain about what is best. Some details first...

Built 1990
NE Florida (sandy soil in FL but it seems some top soil was brought in to level the lot which does not drain as fast as sand.)
A few gutters but mostly no gutters
Wood frame covered with OSB, waterproof barrier (I assume) and wire mesh. I gather the stucco is 3 coats but I'm not certain.
Stucco is below grade (as was the norm in 1990)

Overall, the stucco is in good shape. Very few cracks and those are hairline. However, I do have a place where a very thin coat of the stucco is bubbled in several places (quarter-sized) near the ground.

In the past, I scraped these bubbles off and I could have kept scraping and pulled off large sections of what I gather is the finish coat (about 1/8" thick) even though it wasn't bubbled. I repaired, repainted and then I regraded the beds against the house so that water ran away from the house. I put down weed barrier and put river stones (1/2" to 3" in size) over the top of it.

After a hard rain, the soil against the house gets wet. Not sloppy, soupy wet, but nonetheless, wet. I'm guessing that as the water falls from roof, the rounded stones cause it to bounce in every direction, including against the house. So I'm wondering if the river stone was a good idea, although I can't image what there is that won't cause the water to splash. But that's why I'm here. :-) This is the place where I have the bubbles.

In another spot, I had a similar problem except it's more like one very large bubble. This spot is where there is a roof valley and during a hard rain, the water comes down with a vengeance and splashes onto the stucco. I scraped, repaired painted and regraded (same river stones) and it seems okay but it's still getting wet. Also, in that area, but about 8 feet up, a couple screws which hold the aluminum frame for the screened lanai would not hold. I got longer screws and and when installing them I noticed that the stucco seems to be powdery there. (I could not drill a clean hole) I had to screw in to the OSB to get it to hold. From the outside, however, the stucco is strong and there appears to be no problem. Maybe it was a bad mix in the scratch coat??? To me, it seems unrelated to the water that far up???

I know that some might tell me to have it cut 6 or 8 inches from the ground but I'm not looking to spend oodles of money if what I've got just needs better maintenance. As I said, it's in good shape except for these couple of places I mentioned.

I'm hoping that I'm mostly OK, but I want to be sure I'm using best-practices regarding drainage and am eager to hear anything else that might shed light on the situation.

And if I may, what about root barriers where there are trees, how critical are they? One magnolia is about 15 feet from the house and another about 25, but they send out roots to places where roof valleys create a lot of water (which seems to indicate that the ground remains wet for awhile).

If you made it this far, thank you! Let me know if there is some info you need that I've omitted.

Many thanks,

Dom D'Agostino
11-13-2020, 06:05 AM
...to have it cut 6 or 8 inches from the ground...

This "stucco-cut" is a critical step, don't discount it due to perceived cost.
Many wood framed homes covered with stucco that extends into the ground have water intrusion issues and/or termite issues. Masonry stucco is porous, and water will penetrate the layers eventually, and can be wicked upwards. Stucco below grade is a problem.

No part of the stucco system should be peeling, separating, or delaminating from itself. This description indicates a problem that should be reviewed by a skilled stucco contractor. Even if you make localized, spot repairs, there may be a systemic defect or damage that can't be spot corrected.

A stucco siding system relies on a series of properly installed components, such as flashing, weep screeds, expansion or control joints, etc. Poor workmanship with the various coats of hard coat stucco are a potential issue.

Moisture and water control are critical, but an onsite inspection or review will be needed to make sure all the details are in place. In my area of Central Florida, stucco covered wood frame homes have a much higher than average number of siding defects, some of which are very serious.

DeeJay McC
11-13-2020, 05:47 PM
Thanks, Dom. I'll find a pro in my area to have a look.