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Plaster vs Stucco – Which is the Better Option for Your Home’s Exterior?

Identifying the differences between plaster vs stucco is a time-old tale. To most people, they appear the same and some won’t even be able to tell the difference. But for the trained eye, there might have similar processes and appearance, but there is a distinct difference between them. If you are looking for a quality exterior material, you need to consider either one of these two. To help you make the final choice, it is important to look at the similarities and differences in order to make a comparison.

What is Stucco?

Stucco is a product that is Portland cement and lime-based. It is used for construction of homes and new buildings to provide additional strength and support. In some cases, there are bits of fiberglass strands that are mixed into the material with mud. This is one way to ensure that there are no cracks and that the mixture won’t fall off.

There are different types of sand in various quantities that are added into the mixture in order to produce that unique texture of stucco. A layer of metal lath is used before the stucco is applied to give it something to cling to. This is a beneficial trick to apply when you use stucco on a smooth surface. As soon as the mixture dries, it becomes rock hard.

Stucco is a construction material that is widely used historically. In fact, you will find many buildings that are over a hundred years old that were made with stucco. The reason for the use of this material is that it requires little maintenance to stay as durable and to keep it looking good.

Introduction to Plaster

Plaster is a common material used for home exteriors and finishes that is used for decorative coating. It is a gypsum-based product that is softer than stucco. It comes with a pasty composition and hardens when it dries. And yet, it is quite durable and will last for nearly a lifetime.

Plaster is often used for home interiors such as ceilings and wall partitions. But you can now find exterior cement plaster that is used when constructing buildings and homes. It is made of cement so there is no need to opt for the waterproof ones. It is durable enough to withstand extreme environmental conditions even without paint. Aside from cement plaster, there are other types of plaster such as clay plaster, gypsum plaster, and lime plaster.

Plaster vs Stucco: Similarities

In the quest to understand what differentiates plaster and stucco, it is important to first look at the similar qualities. The first commonality between plaster and stucco is that it is requires the mixture of ingredients to be measured and combined thoroughly. When applying either plaster or stucco, the use of lath or wire mesh is required. This will give the material something to cling to.

The mixture must also be applied in multiple coats and should be given enough time to dry so they could harden. Once it has dried, a final coating is applied to achieve that ‘look’ that they give to your home exterior.

Repairing Stucco

Stucco will expand over time as a result of expansion, shifting or settling in. You may encounter small hairline cracks or larger ones that require immediate attention to avoid water damage to your home. Stucco repair is a process that shouldn't be delayed for larger cracks around your home.

Plaster vs Stucco: Differences

Now that you understand the similarities, it is time to delve into the differences of plaster and stucco. The first major difference is that plaster can be used for both interior and exterior application, whereas stucco can only be used for home exterior.

Exterior plaster is also far more versatile than stucco. The former can be applied even on smooth surfaces like concrete or drywall. But exterior surfaces must meet certain preparations before you can apply stucco to it.

For the application of plaster and stucco, both require experts to install them. As mentioned above in their similarities, both of these materials require careful measurement and combination of ingredients to ensure that they will not only cling to the wall, but harden correctly. The stucco is applied in three layers of coating: the preparatory coating, the second layer of coating that is thick and smooth, and the final coating to give the stucco is distinctive texture. For the application of exterior plaster, it will also require multiple coating, although the thin coat can be omitted.

Which to Choose?

While there are similarities and differences, there is no clear choice between the two as far as which is better. It is your choice as a homeowner to decide which material you prefer. If you are unsure, you can always consult an expert to give you a detailed explanation as to the benefits and drawbacks for your home. After all, it is your home and you have the final say.

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