How to Paint Stucco

Stucco Exterior Wall

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Project Overview
  • Total Time: 1 - 2 days
  • Yield: 30-foot wall
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Estimated Cost: $100 to $200

Stucco is a popular exterior wall surface treatment for its durability, low cost, and its ability to conform to surfaces of different shapes. 

Highly textured, coarse, and porous, stucco is different from other home exterior surfaces. This makes stucco a unique surface for exterior painting. You'll need to take special care to prep it and paint it in a certain way for long-lasting beauty.

Before You Begin

Washing

Pressure wash the stucco before painting. Dirt and debris easily become lodged in the surface of stucco, and pressure washing is the only way to clean it—short of scrubbing the surface by hand.

Back Rolling

Because of stucco's porosity, you'll need to back roll if you decide to use a paint sprayer. Back rolling helps to blend in the paint to prevent it from looking patchy. Back rolling also pushes the paint into the porous surface to promote paint adhesion.

What Is Back Rolling?

Back rolling consists of spraying paint, then immediately following the spray by rolling the paint with a paint roller while the paint is still wet.

The Best Paint for Stucco

Choose flat or satin exterior paint for stucco. Flat paint is more appropriate for the matte look of stucco, and it's easy to touch up without creating inconsistent spots, known as flashing. Satin can be used because it makes it easier to clean the stucco later on. But satin's slight gloss does accentuate stucco's texture, plus it makes touch-ups more difficult to blend in.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Caulking gun
  • Latex gloves
  • Pressure washer
  • Paint sprayer
  • Roller frame
  • Roller extension pole
  • Ladder
  • Paint scraper
  • Chip brush
  • 5-in-1 tool
  • Wire brush

Materials

  • Masonry caulking
  • Exterior latex paint
  • Concrete and masonry primer/sealer
  • Ready-mix stucco patch
  • Thick nap roller covers
  • Painter's tape
  • Large sheets of paper or painter's plastic

Instructions

  1. Pressure Wash

    Plug the pressure washer into a GFCI outlet and attach the hose to a hose bib. Power up the washer. Wash the stucco siding starting at the top and working downward. The very tops of walls tend to collect cobwebs and insect nests, while the very bottoms become dirty with splashed mud. When the water coursing down the wall turns clear, the wall is clean. Spray from several angles to clean thoroughly.

  2. Scrape Paint

    With the paint scraper, start at the top of the wall and scrape loose paint. Hold the scraper at a low angle to the wall and gently push forward with the scraper. Do not push at a steep angle or too hard to avoid chipping away the delicate stucco.

  3. Fill Large Cracks

    As a mineral-based material, stucco is prone to cracking. After scraping the paint, you should be able to easily see cracks in the stucco that require filling. Any cracks wider than the thickness of the paint scraper blade should be scraped out and filled with caulking. While wearing thick latex gloves, push the caulking deep into the cracks.

  4. Fill Hairline Cracks

    Fill hairline cracks by running a thin bead of caulking over the crack. Then, push the caulking into the crack with your finger. Finish by dabbing the caulking with a moistened chip brush to feather it out and blend it with the rest of the stucco.

  5. Fill Holes

    For holes, use the 5-in-1 tool to scrape out the loose stucco. Follow by lightly brushing out the hole with the wire brush. Exterior stucco has wire backing, so you may need to scrape as deep as that level. Conclude by filling the hole with ready-mix stucco patch.

  6. Protect Windows And Doors

    Use painter's plastic or paper and painter's tape to cover windows, doors, and details that you don't want painted, to protect them from paint overspray.

  7. Prime Surface

    Pour primer into a lined paint tray. Fit a 3/8-inch nap roller cover on a roller frame and screw the extension pole in place. Prime all repaired areas, including stucco patches and caulked cracks. Run the roller over hairline cracks, as well. Be sure to load up the primer fairly heavily but not to the point where it drips or causes the roller to lag or slide on the surface.

    Tip

    If the stucco is missing paint or the paint is in poor condition, apply primer to the entire surface.

  8. Spray Paint

    Use the paint sprayer to spray an area about 8-feet wide by 8-feet high. Spray directly from the front.

  9. Randomize Paint

    While the paint is still wet, follow by spraying the same section at many different, random angles. Because stucco has bumps and ridges, spraying from the front alone will leave unpainted small pockmarks and slivers.

  10. Back Roll

    While the paint is still wet, immediately follow by rolling it—a technique called back rolling. Press the paint further into the stucco and blend it. For any large missing sections, re-spray and then back roll.

  11. Apply Second Coat

    Flat paint can usually be recoated in just an hour or two, though cool or moist conditions can lengthen recoat times.

When to Call a Professional

For large holes in the stucco, or for holes that extend beyond the wire backing, hire a carpenter or contractor to repair the siding and the house's wall system. Because painting stucco can be tricky, large projects can become difficult—particularly since so much prep work is involved.