Stucco House Painting Guide

by | Jun 20, 2021

Painting your stucco is one of the best ways to maintain the exterior of your stucco house. Accordingly, stucco homes are popular in the Southwest but houses with stucco siding are located across the US. Frequently found in hot and dry climates like Arizona, Texas, and Florida, stucco is easy to maintain if you care for it properly.

stucco house painting guide

In this stucco painting guide, we will discuss the pros/cons of painting stucco, the best exterior stucco paint, how to paint stucco, and even popular stucco paint colors.

By the end of this exterior stucco guide for homeowners, you’ll be well equipped to best maintain your home’s stucco surface.

What Is Stucco?

Similar to concrete, stucco is a common exterior surface made of water, cement, and sand. It is typically applied wet and dries to become a hard but breathable material. Likewise, stucco is most often used as exterior siding but can be an interior wall or ceiling texture as well.

One of the benefits of an exterior stucco surface is that it can be relatively maintenance-free if treated correctly. Certainly, painting the exterior stucco of your home greatly increases curb appeal. In addition, a fresh coat of paint can do wonders to protect the surface from the elements like UV rays and heavy rain.

what is stucco painting

As mentioned prior, stucco is a hard but porous material used for exterior finishes. This allows moisture to permeate and evaporate through its surface. Let’s keep that fact in mind as we dive into whether you should paint your stucco home’s surface.

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Is Painting Stucco A Bad Idea?

In most cases, painting stucco is a good idea if you want to keep it looking great. Accordingly, it should be painted every five to seven years to stay ahead of costly repairs. Also, properly caulking hairline cracks and using high-quality paint to prevent fading and deterioration is key.

On the flip side, there are actually instances when painting your stucco is a bad idea. Avoid painting new stucco before it sets or siding with moisture trapped behind it. In addition, coating the surface on an overly humid day can drastically decrease the longevity of the paint job.

Exterior Stucco Painting Advice

Here is the best advice we can give you when it comes to deciding whether to paint your exterior stucco.

First and foremost, talk to neighbors with similar home exteriors and learn from their approach.

A few good examples of starter questions include:

  • Did they choose to re-stucco or paint?
  • What was the condition of the home before painting it? Were there larger cracks to patch or water damage?
  • Was acrylic or elastomeric paint used? How long did the paint job last?
exterior siding stucco house

Likewise, you should make sure the age of the home matches your own as well as ask about specific exterior painting process details. These include whether your neighbors DIY-ed the project or hired a professional painter, used a sprayer or paint roller, and if mold or mildew was present.

Do you have exposed brick on your home’s exterior? If you are considering painting the brick, get color ideas from our best painted brick before and after pictures of the year. 

Painting Stucco Prep Work

Furthermore, you should ask about the preparation work done. How much did they have to caulk cracks in the stucco versus having the paint fill in the crevices and crannies? This in addition to whether they used a pressure washer or if the job required major stucco repairs.

Knowing the answers to these prep questions will ensure that your project will avoid peeling or bubbling issues for years to come.

exterior stucco peeling prep before painting

Lastly, talking to your local paint store is also a good idea. There should be a Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore store in the neighborhood you can either call or visit in person. No doubt, they have dealt with similar types of projects nearby over the years.

As a result, they can steer you in the right direction in terms of preparing the surface before you apply the first coat. Not to mention, they’ll be able to recommend the best paint products to use as well as popular colors in your neighborhood.

Best Exterior Paint For Stucco

Once you’ve decided that painting your stucco is the best choice, next comes the often debated topic of what type of paint to use.

Sure, there are plenty of opinions on what kind of paint you should use on stucco. But we are just going to make it as simple as possible.

When it comes down to it, you will need to make a choice between using either acrylic latex or elastomeric paint. For the most professional results, you should choose a flat sheen finish and apply at least two coats. Based on the texture, most stucco paint is best applied using a professional airless sprayer and backrolled with a medium nap roller.

best paint for exterior stucco home

Actually, choosing the best stucco paint is often not that hard. Over 80% of the time you will want to use acrylic latex exterior paint. So unless you talked to a few neighbors that used elastomeric successfully on their homes, acrylic exterior stucco paint is likely the best option.

Let’s break down the reasons why and when to actually use elastomeric exterior paint versus the more likely acrylic latex option. We’ll also touch on masonry paint which is a third option.

Acrylic Paint

The best exterior paint for stucco is 100% acrylic paint in most cases. Indeed, acrylic latex paint is both durable and flexible, maximizing stucco surface breathability.

Remember when we mentioned that stucco becomes a hard but porous surface that allows for breathability? Accordingly, the paint you use should be breathable as well. This is why acrylic latex takes the cake when it comes to stucco paint.

acrylic paint exterior stucco walls

No question, the last thing you want is moisture trapped underneath your walls resulting in costly wood rot and repairs. Acrylic exterior paint allows your stucco to breathe better because of its permeability. As a result, acrylic house paints allow moisture to escape freely and evaporate.

Lastly, acrylic latex-based paints are easy to apply, clean up, and recoat. This is helpful in case you want to change exterior colors or freshen up your home’s stucco down the line. Not to mention, acrylic is the most affordable option when it comes to painting your stucco exterior.

Sherwin Williams Stucco Paints

In our opinion, some of the best acrylic latex paint for stucco surfaces is carried by Sherwin Williams. More specifically, we’ve had great results using Sherwin’s SuperPaint or Duration exterior painting products on stucco. Both are high-quality acrylic exterior paints that have a wide range of colors. Moreover, these exterior paints last for 5 to 10 years with proper prep work done before.

And because these popular exterior stucco coating options are water-based, they are easy to apply and clean up afterward. This makes them perfect for DIY weekend warriors and professional painters alike.

In need of an interior painter but don’t know where to start? Our interior paint price guide can help you figure out if you are getting your money’s worth.

sherwin williams stucco exterior paints

Please note: Improovy is not sponsored or affiliated with the Sherwin-Williams paint company. In full transparency, we are sharing recommendations based on our decades of experience painting stucco homes across the US.

Certainly, there are different opinions on the topic of stucco painting and your local contractor may have their own product recommendations.

If you are in the Southwest, Dunn-Edwards Evershield paint is a quality option It’s specially formulated to prevent color fading in areas with extreme UV rays and constant sun. As mentioned earlier, asking your neighbors or nearby paint store for advice is a great first step.

Elastomeric Paint On Stucco Walls

If many people with stucco exteriors in your neighborhood used elastomeric paint successfully, it is likely a good choice for your home as well.

Elastomeric is a special rubberized paint that is actually thicker and more water-resistant than acrylic exterior paint. Because of its thickness, elastomeric paint can bridge hairline cracks in stucco, removing them altogether.

Two benefits of using elastomeric exterior paint are longevity and protection. Assuming the proper prep work is done, elastomeric will last 3-7 years longer than acrylic.

Drawbacks Of Elastomeric Paints

Having said that, there are a number of drawbacks to using elastomeric paint on exterior stucco.

For one, exterior elastomeric paint how low permeability. This means that it does not breathe and tends to trap moisture underneath stucco wall surfaces. This can lead to major stucco damage and nasty mold and mildew issues in the future.

elastomeric-paint-stucco-repairs

Next, elastomeric coatings are 50% more expensive than other paints and take 30% more time to apply. Similarly, you should only hire a skilled professional that specializes in elastomeric stucco painting to do the job.

Wondering how much it costs to hire an interior painter? Visit our interior home paint cost guide to learn about how to get a fair price and what to expect.

Last but not least, once you go elastomeric, you can’t go back. What this means is that you can only use another coat of elastomeric over prior coats of elastomeric paint. This in addition to a limited color selection means that choosing elastomeric paint is a long-term decision, not to be taken lightly.

Speciality Masonry Stucco Paints

There are some masonry paints made specifically for exterior cement, concrete, brick, or stucco surfaces. These specialty paint products often contain additives that increase surface bonding and mildew resistance. You can find these in most paint stores or even Home Depot, as we know Behr carries a specialty stucco masonry paint that is decently rated.

Pros and Cons Of Masonry Paint

As a rule of thumb, masonry paint can be viewed as a middle-of-the-road option between acrylic and elastomeric paint in terms of cost, flexibility, and surface protection.

Since colors are limited with this type of paint, you’ll just have to hope that you find the perfect shade for your exterior walls. Otherwise, you may be flat out of luck when it comes to finding a matching color for future stucco touchups. Especially if the manufacturer discontinues the masonry paint line at some point.

Stucco Colors

When it comes to stucco colors for your home’s exterior, there are a number of options you can choose from.

Most homeowners go with a neutral color like tan, gray, off-white, or beige. Since neutral stucco colors act as a simple backdrop, they won’t outshine other outdoor elements like trim or landscaping. Likewise, a stark white stucco color can contrast nicely with a darker trim color.

Speaking of paint colors, check out our interior paint color guide for more tips and advice from our team of expert painters!

white stucco house paint color

Furthermore, the stucco’s texture and architectural style of your home are important factors when choosing an exterior color. Other exterior features to consider are shutters, roof shingles, and downspouts.

If you are looking for a more modern and chic exterior stucco finish, go with a bold black or dark blue. These darker shades highlight your landscaping and outdoor lighting or fixtures.

Classic stucco colors include medium-tone blues and historic grays, perfect for older stucco homes built prior to the 1960s.

stucco-colors-exterior-house-painting

For a little variety, you can also select from an exterior color palette of earthy greens or even popping shades of pink with are popular in certain Sun Belt cities likes Phoenix or Tucson, AZ.

Painting Interior Stucco Walls

Before you paint interior stucco walls, you need to choose the right kind of paint. Use quality acrylic-latex interior paint to ensure proper coverage in a flat, matte, or eggshell finish. Typically, you need to apply at least two coats when painting interior stucco because of its porous surface.

Accordingly, 100% acrylic paint is formulated to flex and adhere to uneven textured stucco or plaster surfaces. Because it is water-based, most interior latex paint is low-VOC and easy to clean.

New Stucco Wall Painting

You should wait at least 60 days before painting any new interior stucco walls or textured plaster to allow for proper curing.

Before you apply any paint topcoats to new stucco, you should spray or roll on an interior stucco primer. This helps fill in the gaps and voids of the stucco wall. A quality high-build interior primer from Kilz or Zinnser should do the trick. Since breathability is less of a concern with interior surfaces, primer acts as a base for a uniform topcoat.

interior stucco wall painting

For the best coverage, you should tint the interior primer to match your topcoat paint color. Lastly, it’s wise to budget for at least two coats and buy 50% more paint since interior stucco plaster will absorb the first few coats. Certainly, your prime coat will help but can only do so much. Especially if you want a beautiful interior stucco paint job that doesn’t flash or look uneven from wall to wall.