A lot of people may have heard that stucco is terrible. They feel that they should avoid houses with stucco installed as the exterior material. Even some relocation companies out there frequently don’t let their clients buy a stucco home, be it hard coat, or concrete stucco or EIFS.

But it is certainly misleading and stucco homes last 100 years with a stunning appearance. In fact, Stucco has been successfully used for centuries in many countries. Yet, it is true that stucco has earned a bad reputation in the 1980s and ’90s due to improper installation and only due to improper installation.

While there is no complaint against or vital issue concerning hardcoat, or concrete stucco, the allegations against synthetic stucco are much stronger because of water infiltration due to incorrect installation. However, nothing of these mean that a particular type of stucco is inherently bad. All you get to blame is the installation system.

Is synthetic stucco bad?

There are two kinds of stucco: Exterior insulation and finish systems (EIFS) and hard coat stucco. From time to time both the types have earned bad reputation because of improper installation. However, the former, EIFS, is a bit worse than the latter, hard coat stucco, in a sense that EIFS systems are designed with no integral drainage facility. EIFS is usually adhered to wood or gypsum board. When the installation is incorrect, the EIFS system allows water intrusion.

Once the moisture gets trapped, EIFS just holds the moisture there. The termites in the system love such moist environments. Then termites get in there and gradually eat the framing of the whole structure. Besides, the trapped moisture gradually rots the structure.

This way, in the 1980s and ’90s, water infiltration, because of poor installation, behind barrier EIFS caused the structure to delaminate, buckle, mold, crack, rot and many more. Consequently, there were numerous lawsuits filed against the manufacturers and builders.

Is synthetic stucco better than regular stucco?

Both the stucco types of stucco are fire-resistant. They provide a stunning finish to your house.Actually, wetter conditions make traditional stucco a better performer compared to EIFS. Regular or traditional stucco is less likely to absorb water and hardly absorbs water. Thus, they are less likely to get damaged by such water intrusion and last better than EIFS.

Another noticeable advantage of regular stucco is that it holds up better to woodpeckers, hail and dings.But EIFS also has some huge advantages. A compression between these two types of stucco will make things clear for you.

EIFS vs Harcoat/Traditional Stucco

EIFSHardcoat Stucco
Thermal expansion or shifting foundations renders EIFS less likely to crumble or cracksTime-consuming and complex installation process than hard coat stucco.Very affordable.Becomes prone to cracking as time passes.
Enhanced durability by a fiberglass layer.No scope for proper DIY installation.Very easy to repair.Very heavy; weighs 10lbs per sq. ft.
80% lighter compared to traditional stucco.More expensive than hardcoat stucco.Hardly absorbs water and get damaged.In extremely hot weather, it becomes susceptible to buckling.
Insulating properties: R-value between 4 and 5.6 Pretty hard to customize.Dries very fast. 

Most Affordable Stucco: Cost is a major factor while installing stucco on home. Traditional Stucco is the best choice for you if you are considering the cost. It costs only $7 to $9 per square foot.

On the other hand, synthetic stucco will cost you $7 and $12per square foot, as it requires extra labor.

Ease of Maintenance: If you consider ease of maintenance, Synthetic Stucco (EIFS) is the ideal choice for you. Both the stucco systems require regular inspections, and clearing. But if you paint on hard coat stucco, you may face difficulties in maintaining the stucco in the long run.

Just don’t let anyone drill into the EIFS, and you will enjoy easy-peasy maintenance.


Regardless of the type of stucco, an installation process will cost you a lot of money. So, you would want to know which material lasts longer. In this case, traditional stucco gives you more assurance.

Traditional Stucco:

·         Very durable.

·         Mold, rot and fire resistant.

·         Termite infestation resistant.

·         Moisture damage resistant.

·         Impact damage resistant.

Synthetic Stucco (EIFS):

·         Very durable

·         Very strong; it can even withstand wind of hurricane-strength.

·         More likely to absorb water and get damaged by such infiltration.

·         Not so impact damage.

Ease of Cleaning

When it comes to ease of cleaning, it’s a tie between synthetic stucco and hardcoat stucco.

Traditional Stucco:

·         Clear thoroughly once in a year.

·         Easy, yet time consuming cleaning process.

·         Water-based inexpensive cleaner.

·         You have to avoid pressure cleaning.

Synthetic Stucco (EIFS):

·         You may accidentally void your warranty by violating any cleaning specifications mentioned therein.

·         Only non-acidic cleaners.

·         To get rid of stubborn dirt, you would need diluted bleach.

Environment Friendly Stucco

When you plan to install stucco or repair an existing coating, you might want a chance to make your home coating environmentally friendly. The good news is, both synthetic stucco and hardcoat are environmentally friendly.

Traditional Stucco:

·         Recyclable.

·         Uses natural materials.

·         Considerably energy efficient.

·         It requires a little manufacturing.

·         It is a durable and very strong material.

Synthetic Stucco (EIFS):

·         More energy efficient.

·         It has both synthetic and natural materials.

·         Water-based adhesive and finishes

·         Very strong and very durable material.

Synthetic vs. Hard Coat: Consider Climates

Your local climate influences how the stucco behaves. So, you have to be carefully while choosing stucco for your home. Both types of stucco are resilient and long-lasting, but your local climate will determine which one is suitable for you.

Traditional hard coat Stucco:

Traditional stucco is the ideal choice for hot climates. It is never affected by the temperature fluctuations; it neither expands nor shrinks. So, this feature prevents cracks. Besides being fire-resistant, when the temperature is too high, it won’t even melt or warp.It is also suitable for humid conditions.

Synthetic Stucco:

Being better at insulating and comparatively more energy-efficient, EIFS is an ideal choice for colder locations.

What is the most serious problem with exterior stucco?

As discussed above, there is certainly no issue about concrete stucco. It just needs frequent maintenance in the proper way. But, if not installed and maintained well, any type of stucco can give rise to several serious problems.

At first, improper installation is very likely to allow water infiltration, which result in water damage over time. The other serious issues include, cracking (if stucco sand becomes mixed with soil around the home), staining, crumbling and mold. When there are excessive water retention and moisture problems, mold becomes a persistent matter of concern.

However, proper maintenance and inspection and repair by experts can put an end to these problems.

How do you know if stucco is bad?

Regardless of the stucco being EIFS or hardcoat, there are some common signs that represent a bad or damaged stucco. Inspect the stucco home frequently if you already have one, and if you are going to buy one, inspect for these signs before you buy the stucco home. You can also take help of an experienced stucco company for proper inspection.

·         Look for stucco cracks. If there are numerous cracks, even if they are hairline cracks. Go for an urgent inspection by an expert. However, one single hairline crack may not be an issue of concern.

·         Look for stucco stains, which can be either dark blotches in the color, or white hazy streaks.

·         Stucco crumbles.

·         Stucco moss.

·         Stucco Indentations or Soft Spots.

·         Also go for an inspection right away if there is any impact damage.

Now we can conclude that no stucco is inherently bad or good. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. It is you who needs to find out which type of stucco you need considering your needs and weather conditions

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