Choosing the Right Type of Stucco for Your Home | Best Pick Reports

Traditional or hard coat stucco. In the past, the only stucco used in homes was traditional or hard coat stucco. The first step in hard coat stucco installation is to install the substrate. Next, a metal lath is attached directly to the substrate. The metal lath ultimately holds the stucco to the wall. Then, the actual hard coat stucco, which is made mostly of cement, is applied directly to the metal lath with a trowel and is allowed to set or dry. The process of applying the stucco and allowing it to set is repeated; hard coat stucco typically consists of a scratch coat, a brown coat, and a colored finish coat. Since hard coat stucco is made of cement, which is porous, it breathes and naturally prevents moisture buildup.

EIFS or synthetic stucco. EIFS, which stands for Exterior Insulation & Finish Systems, is a synthetic product used to cover exterior home walls. EIFS usually consists of three primary component layers. The innermost layer is an insulation board, usually made of a material such as polystyrene. The second layer is a base coat applied to a reinforcing fiberglass mesh. The third layer is a finish coat or colored coat. EIFS is glued and/or mechanically fastened to the substrate and is relatively common in the metro-Atlanta area. It became popular with builders because it looks like real stucco, is easier to install than real stucco, is less expensive than real stucco, and has better insulation characteristics than real stucco and other cladding materials, such as brick. However, EIFS can absorb and hold moisture much more readily than can traditional hard coat stucco.