Stucco jobs are a good way for do-it-yourselfers to make extra money. Doing stucco jobs for people other than friends and family requires the proper credentials, certification, training, references and insurance. Otherwise, you just need some practice and the right materials. Test your application techniques by building a practice wall of brick, rock or block.
Even when doing stucco jobs for family and friends, a bid proposal provides a detailed explanation of the job to avoid misunderstandings. Begin by examining the type of material currently on the surface. Include in your bid any removal of material or repairs that are required before applying stucco and measures for total square footage of surface area. A bid proposal should clearly describe the entire scope of the work. Explain all steps in detail for the homeowner. This is your chance to clearly explain fixed portions of the bid and unknown variables that could result in additional charges.
A smooth exterior substrate material, such as plywood, requires sheets of wired lath and lath screws. Keep lath as flat as possible during installation. A sturdy wheel barrow and shovel or a small portable mixer is needed for mixing Portland cement, sand and lime with water. Color the stucco mix with powdered pigment color If you will not be painting the finished stucco. You will need enough materials for applying two coats of stucco to the project, a scratch coat and a final, textured coat. You need a large rectangular shaped trowel that has at least one jagged for spreading stucco. The jagged edge is used for scratching the first coat. Brick, block and poured concrete surfaces do not require wired lathe prior to applying stucco. The same goes for interior surfaces, such as basement walls and fireplaces. Wet the surface with a water hose or spray bottle as you go along. It is best not to apply stucco to exterior surfaces on hot windy days as the surface must be wet for stucco to adhere to it.
Stucco repair jobs are a whole different ball game, especially when you didn't do the original work. It is difficult to know the extent of damage without knowing the product and techniques involved in the original application. You need a small hammer for breaking off all loose stucco and wire mesh for covering exposed lath. An acrylic bonding agent added to the stucco mixture provides a workable patching compound. A small triangular shaped trowel or putty knife works well for applying a thick first coat over the mesh and for scratching. Once the first coat is set, apply a second coat and a final, textured coat. Patching involves matching texture as well as color. Matching texture is all in your technique. Do not use colored stucco for patching, instead bring a variety of paint swatches to the job to match color as closely as possible. Hairline cracks seal easily with a spray-on acrylic elastomer; having a few cans on hand saves a trip to the hardware store.
If your customer requests painting the stucco instead of adding color to the mix, you have several options. Concrete paints and stains, mineral paints, lime washes and fog coats all provide uniform and long lasting color to stucco. Just make sure the coating you choose is alkaline tolerant and permeable to water vapor to avoid peeling paint and an unhappy customer in the near future. The type of coloring product you choose dictates how it is applied. Have a variety of brushes and rollers as well as a sprayer on hand for finishing the job.