Stucco cracking is a natural phenomenon; there is no such thing as a totally crack free stucco system.
Stucco, like all cementitious products is susceptible to cracking. Conventional stucco is a hard and durable system and in most cases will outlast the structure itself. However, when stucco cracks, it does not necessarily imply the function of the stucco assembly has been degraded. Only when cracks are larger and excessive is there a potential problem.
HOW TO TELL IF THERE ARE POTENTIAL STRUCTURAL CHANGES?
If the edge of a large crack has moved in relation to the other edge, it may indicate unusual structural changes or settling to the building.
The first step in properly addressing your stucco is to determine if the crack is indeed ‘large’ or ‘small.’
Small Cracks – Less than 1/16th of an inch (the width of a coin)
Hairline cracks are common occurrence during the 20+ year expected life of the stucco and typically don’t undermine the structural integrity of exterior stucco. Rather, it is typically just “stucco being stucco.” However, addressing them will prevent them from escalating into something worse.
Larger Cracks – Greater than 1/16th of an inch
Unlike hairline cracks, a large stucco crack can sometimes indicate a structural problem. Often, large cracks develop at the intersection of vertical walls, at the upper corners of window and door frames, or at joints between wood framing and concrete/brick masonry. Since, most large cracks aren’t only wide but also deep, they allow moisture and water to penetrate the building envelope and pass freely through walls.
HOW TO PREVENT SMALL CRACKS FROM BECOMING LARGER?
The simplest and relatively inexpensive solution is to simply repaint the surface with an elastomeric coating that matches the original color. The coating will penetrate the cracks, making them less visible and sealing them the prevent further damage due to water penetration and freeze/thaw.
WHAT TO DO WITH LARGER CRACKS?
To correctly address and fix potential structural problems, it is recommended to investigate the root cause of the crack before repairing them.
Need help repairing your stucco or determining the best next step?
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Denver Commercial Property Services is the dominant, one-stop provider of commercial property services in Colorado. Excel Capital Projects, a division of DCPS, specializes in exterior and interior painting, carpentry, and stucco.
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