Stucco, a cement-based plaster, covers the exterior of both wood frame and masonry structures. Although stucco easily adheres to masonry walls, builders must provide reinforcement for stucco on wood walls by installing a wire support structure called metal lath. Once stucco installers prepare the wall to receive stucco, they mix and apply stucco in three successive layers: the initial "base coat," the secondary "scratch coat" and the final "finish coat."
Lath Installation Tools
Stucco installers require two sets of fastening tools to install stucco lath: stapling tools to apply building paper to the wood wall's sheathing and hammering tools or screw-driving tools to install stucco stop and lath. Although some stucco professionals use small, manually-operated staplers, such as hammer staplers, to apply paper, others use pneumatic staplers or electric staplers. To install stucco stop, a metal flashing is used as a form around the installation's perimeter; stucco installers drive screws with power drills or nails with hammer or nail gun. Stucco installers finally attach lath with hammer and nails or screws and a power drill.
Stucco Mixing Tools
Depending on the size of the batch, stucco installers use various power tools or hand tools to combine dry stucco mix with water. For the smallest batches, stucco repairers simply mix dry and wet ingredients in a small bucket with a trowel. For medium-size batches, stucco installers place dry and wet ingredients in a large tub and mix with a drill-mounted mixing paddle. To mix large batches of stucco, stucco installers use heavy-duty mixing equipment, similar in form and appearance to portable concrete mixers.
Stucco installers use hand trowels to manually apply wet stucco atop stucco lath. The type of trowel used to apply stucco depends upon application. To apply base and scratch coats, stucco installers often use standard masonry trowels, brick trowels or finishing trowels. However, many stucco installers use notched trowels, similar to those used by tile setters, to scratch and tool a stucco surface. Additionally, smooth-edged finishing trowels allow stucco installers to create a variety of surface textures using diluted stucco mix.
Stucco Power Tools
The most notable power tool used to apply stucco is the stucco sprayer. Stucco sprayers range from small pistol-like tools that hold a small portion of stucco to large, trailer-mounted machines that mix and hold entire bags of stucco mix. Regardless of size, all stucco sprayers use compressed air to force wet stucco mix through a gun-like assembly and out of a spray tip. Sprayers are particularly useful for creating knock-down stucco textures. To use a sprayer to create texture, stucco finishers splatter a diluted stucco mix across a surface with a sprayer, allow the stucco to slightly set and subsequently swipe a trowel across the surface to flatten the splatters into a somewhat random pattern.