Well old man winter arrived early and looks like he is here to stay! Our temperatures in PA went from 50 and 60 degrees right down into the 20’s and 30′ around Thanksgiving. Any stucco remediation contractor trying to button up or finish a project was caught completely off guard by the early arrival of colder temperatures. The problem with stucco is that you can’t apply stucco in temperatures below 40 degrees! Every winter, I hear of more and more people who want to add anti-freeze or accelerators to their stucco mix – not a good idea and I have addressed this in previous articles and blog posts.
A few weeks ago, we were lucky and the temperature stayed above freezing for a very short two day period. We were able to apply our scratch coat at our residential project so that it will be left protected throughout the winter. As we know, stucco needs to be installed in 3 coats for a total thickness of 7/8″. The scratch (first) coat should be applied at 3/8″, the brown (second) coat at 3/8″ and the finish coat at 1/8″. There must be 48 hours of curing time without letting it freeze between the scratch and brown coats.
When the temperatures drop and you are forced to apply stucco, you subsequently are forced to tent and heat your project in order to have a successful stucco cladding system. This consists of draping tarps over your scaffolding, securing your structure and running propane heaters to keep the stucco mix from freezing and not curing properly. Stucco remediation is very expensive when performed in this fashion and most likely an expense your homeowner would not want to consider. You will go through 7 pounds of propane each hour and you will have to have your staff there 24/7 for fire watch. Applying stucco in this fashion can add $3,000 to $4,000 per elevation for an average residential stucco project.