Color Coating vs. Painting Stucco

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Stucco finishes are common in Mediterranean-style homes.

Homeowners desiring a color change or freshening up of their exterior stucco typically have to consider the options of painting the stucco versus color-coating the stucco. Modern paints for stucco are elastomeric, meaning they form a flexible bonded seal against the stucco. Color coatings are formulated from Portland cement and color pigments, which are then applied in a thin layer to the exterior of the home.

Advantages of Painting

The elastomeric paints available for stucco painting provide protection against moisture absorption in stucco, which can cause the stucco to crack and crumble and may even wick water into the structure of the home. Paint is also a lower-cost option when compared to color coating. Adventurous homeowners can even elect to apply paint themselves, saving a huge amount of money on labor costs. Paint also resists staining, creating a seal on the stucco that allows dirt and pollutants to be washed from the surface of the home.

Advantages of Color Coating

One big advantage of color coatings over painting is that color coating offers long wear, lasting 15 or more years. Color coatings can also be applied soon after the stucco job is complete, often within a matter of days. Color coatings are typically applied at a 1/8-inch thickness. Wear and tear on the exterior of the home is less likely to show on color-coated surfaces, because the color penetrates the entire layer, while paint sits on the surface in a very thin layer.

Disadvantages of Painting

While painting may be a lower-cost option and offer the flexibility for homeowners to tackle the project themselves, down the line there may be regrets. A painted stucco surface has to be completely stripped of the paint prior to applying new coatings, including color coats and stucco touchup work. Stripping the paint requires costly sandblasting, and often the underlying stucco needs to be coated with special primers before additional coatings can be applied. Another disadvantage to painting stucco is the wait time necessary prior to applying paints. New stucco must be allowed to cure for 28 days prior to painting.

Disadvantages of Color Coating

Because the material used for color coating is a Portland cement-based substance, it is porous once dry and is able to actually absorb water, wreaking havoc on the finish and potentially peeling off the original stucco. In addition to water absorption, the porous surface is also subject to penetrating stains that will have to be recoated to hide. Color pigments are mixed directly into the coating when color coating stucco. Because there is a maximum ratio of pigment to coating, darker colors may be difficult to achieve, limiting the homeowners color options.


Stacy Morgan

Connecticut-based Stacy Morgan began writing for eHow in 2009. Morgan graduated from the Porter and Chester Institute of Technology with a certification in architectural drafting.