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Repair stucco or cover with siding?

glatt's picture

Hi, I'm the guy from Arlington VA with a question about a rat in the toilet a couple of weeks ago.  In case you were wondering, the rat hasn't come back.

I've got another question though now.  My dear wife and I bought our house a few years ago. It's about 60 years old, and has exterior walls built of concrete block, covered with painted stucco, up to the roofline. The gable ends and dormers were originally framed with wood and sided with asphalt shingles.

The problem is the ugly aluminum siding that's been nailed all over the sides of the entire house. (See the attached pictures.) The siding even starts slightly below grade. I'm a little worried that termites could enter into my house under the complete cover of this aluminum siding. Granted, once a termite gets under the siding, all it will initially find is stucco coated concrete block, but they could travel pretty far without my knowledge.  MAybe even up to the roof. One of the long time neighbors implied that there was nothing wrong with the stucco originally, but that a traveling salesman convinced the little old lady that used to be here to put aluminum siding up about 20 years ago or so. The siding is attached to furring strips that I imagine are nailed or screwed through the stucco and into the concrete block walls.

The neighbors have an identical house by the same builder (without the ugly aluminum) and their stucco looks great.  We envy them.

A few years ago I got what is probably a fair estimate for ripping off the old siding, nailing wire lath over the old stucco and putting a new coat of stucco on. It was probably a fair estimate for my area, but I can't afford it at $35,000.  After taxes, that's most of what I make in a year!

I'm pretty handy, and have done a lot of the work around my house so far.  I do a lot of woodworking in my shop, I've done plumbing and electrical, and some interior wall and floor patching.  I'm sure I can at least rip down the old siding.  But I'd like to have a game plan before I get in too deep. 

The condition of the stucco under the siding is unknown, but at a minimum it will have at least a few hundered nail holes in it to be patched.  Should I:

1) try to patch a couple of hundred individual holes in the stucco with some sort of patching compound you all might suggest and then paint the house.

2) see about slapping some other siding over the stucco, possibly using the same nailing strips put up by the aluminum siding guys.  If I did this, I would do the siding a little differently, so it would be more visually pleasing and wouldn't extend below the ground.  If I went with siding, I'm not sure what the best product would be. I'm much more confident in my ability to put siding on than my ability to apply large quantities of stucco in a professional looking way.

3) do something else you might suggest.

Basically, this is all just so ovewhelming, I don't know where to begin.  As a result, I've done nothing for 5 years since we bought the house and was blown out of the water by the initial estimate.  But the current siding situation really needs to change.

Thanks for any insight you can offer.

(post #56338, reply #1 of 13)


I think Dante described a special circle in the underworld for aluminum siding salesmen.

I would encourage you to re-stucco if you like the look. You don't need to patch anything, just eliminate the siding & nailers, re-lathe, and on you go.

$35,000 sounds outrageous to re-stucco that house. I just got a quote of $31,000 to restucco (get ready)a 2,900 sf main house, a 1,100 sf guest house, a garage, a 650 sf studio, and about 1,200 linear feet of yardwall. You might do well to check around. If you can pull the siding off yourself, there's no reason why it should be out of reach.

If you measure the surface area of the outside of your house, about how many square yards would it be?

In the Southwest, we can get top-quality stucco anytime for about $26 per yard, if that helps.


(post #56338, reply #4 of 13)

Thanks for the information.  You mention various costs per square foot for a recent quote you got.  This may sound like a stupid question, but when you talk about a 2000 square foot house, are you talking about living space or the area of the siding.

Also you mentioned a cost of $25 or so per yard of stucco.  Is that a materials cost for a cubic yard, or a cost to have a square yard applied.?

Thanks again for the info.


(post #56338, reply #5 of 13)

1.  You could always do the work yourself.  But it'll probably look that way too.  A new professionally done stucco job (with texture coat) looks great.

2.  I agree with the other guys about more bids.  Work is startting to slow in some places, you may hit someone needing to keep busy.  If not now, keep waiting.

3.  Will the value of the home increase after the job is completed?  How much?  How long do you plan on staying in this house?  Basically, I'm trying to get you to figure a payback period.  Will it get paid back or is this something you'll have to live with for years to get the equilivant value (from satisfaction) in return.

4.  This is why they make home equity loans.  If you haven't noticed, the rates are cheep!


(post #56338, reply #6 of 13)


That was $26 per yard, which is about as cheap as it gets around here and still expect good quality. Of course this figure doesn't really mean much in the big picture, since regional variations are so important. Anyway, be careful. With all due respect, I want to tell you a story.

What's a dollar per yard? Well, on a good-sized house it might be the money it takes to mask your windows properly or clean up after the job or pay the worker's comp. As you get bids, make sure you receive a fair comparison.

My point? Twofold -- 1) I really hate to see homeowners get ripped off, and invalid comparisons of work for some given price is one of the leading ways homeowners get robbed. (But I can buy a _____ at Home Depot for half that much!)

2) I hate to see good contractors get put out of business by ripoff artists prominsing the same work for less.

For example, Joe Reputable gives you a price of $27 per yard. He uses premium materials properly installed, details are done correctly, he protects existing finishes, cleans up after himself, and pays his bills, including worker's comp.

Rodney Ripoff comes in with a great story, and can do the same job for $24 per yard. It's all good until one of his guys falls of the scaffold that didn't meet OSHA standards. When he gets to the hospital we learn he is still legally drunk from last night. There's no worker's comp policy, so the family sues your homeowner's insurance company.

Meanwhile, they got stucco all over your windows, doors, and landscaping. "Don't worry" says Rodney, "We'll clean it up on the way out."

About the time you're wondering where the color coat is, Rodney comes to you and tells you he needs a draw to pay for materials. Seems reasonable. Too bad he's not paying for your materials, rather the last job he has to clear up a lein on (placed by the material supplier) before he gets sued.

Eventually, you get the job done. Your insurance company has dumped you, your windows are pitted, your landscape is ruined, you've noticed these water stains around your windows and doors, and you figure, it's about time to sell this place before it gets any worse.

That's when you find the materials lein against your house because Rodney has left town without paying his suppliers.

All for $3 per yard.

Far-fetched? Not at all. Don't ask me how I learned all this. It comes with the contractor's license, the hard way. <G>

Anyway, your question was not a bit dumb. A square yard is a measure of the area of the siding, not the footprint of the house.

Good Luck. Please keep us posted. This is definitely an interesting problem to be solved.


(post #56338, reply #8 of 13)

Thanks again for your input.  I might be missing something here, but if I understand your numbers correctly, the quote I got for $35,000 is way out of line for what you would expect for a similar house in your area.  To be fair, the quote I got was to remove the existing siding, nail wire mesh over the existing painted stucco, and re-stucco the house.  I'm at work now, and don't have the dimensions of my house in front of me, but I estimate that it's about 1,500 square feet of outside wall space.  At your area's $26 per yard rate, that would be less than $4,500.

I understand that there are regional differences, and that pulling off the existing siding is also a cost to be considered if I paid to have it done, but the difference between $4,500 and $35,000 just astounds me.  When we originally asked for a quote, I was actually expecting something like $5000 for the job.

Are my numbers all wrong?

Also, a few of the places we called wanted to put synthetic stucco up over the traditional stucco.  They wouldn't even consider doing traditional stucco. I didn't want to go that route, because I had heard of a bunch of class action lawsuits in North Carolina or some other place about that type of "stucco." As a result, I was only able to find one person to make a bid on our job.  What are your thoughts of the synthetic stuff? 

(post #56338, reply #9 of 13)

Yep, those lawsuits in NC happened for a reason, When EIFS goes wrong, it goes really wrong.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with synthetic stucco as long as the design of the building (everything from exterior details to interior ventilation) is appropriate and the applicator is reputable, properly trained, and observes all of the manufacturer's recommendations and best trade practices.

That having been said, it doesn't happen often.

Synthetic is not my first choice. I think traditional Portland cement stucco is every bit as good and far more forgiving.

1,500 sf of exterior surface area sounds small to me. That's only 166 square yards. I just did a small addition that was 80 yards.

Check your figures carefully, let me know if I can help.


(post #56338, reply #10 of 13)

"I was actually expecting something like $5000 for the whole job". 


Wow.  What are you "basing" that assumption on?  There is a very useful phrase for homeowners.  You get what you pay for.  No one thinks long term anymore.  Its all right now, today.  What about five years down the road when your stucco cracks?  Believe me it will.  Then it has to be repaired.  More maintenance.  I would copy and print the post about the two bids that were $3 per yard different.  That's sound advise.  Get 2 or three bids on your job with the same materials and scope of work and base your decision on the best VALUE for your dollar.  Not the cheapest price.  Again not the cheapest price.  Check references.  Ask about warranty information.  Do your homework.  Be ready to make an informed decision.  If you do these things then you will get what you want without being screwed.  Best wishes on your project.

(post #56338, reply #11 of 13)

Hey, you guys offer some GREAT advise. I probably should

be starting a new thread on this but it's related. I've

got a SWest house that's slump block (kinda-bumpy-not-smooth-

regular-concrete block). I want to have it stuccoed after I

do some remodeling. What's the best procedure? The slump

block is irregular enough that it seems like a taxing job to

get a brown coat directly on the block and have it be even.

Are we talking styrofoam/chicken wire here? Any alternatives?

Any help GREATLY appreciated.


(post #56338, reply #13 of 13)

If the block has not been painted it is probably an easy job.

My first guess would be Western 1-Kote. (That's really how it's spelled. <G>)


(post #56338, reply #12 of 13)

I admit that I was naive when I expected a quote for around $5000.  It wasn't based on anything other than what I hoped to be paying.  $35,000 was the only quote I was able to get.  Not too many people around here do stucco.  Whether the quote was fair or not, I can't say.  But I can say that it is out of my reach for something that is basically just cosmetic and doesn't add much more than curb appeal to the value of the house.

$5000 doesn't sound too far out of whack with the information that Dave gave me for the prices in his part of the country.  Only problem is that I don't live in his part of the country.  Our house is pretty small.

I think what I'll do is pull off the old aluminum siding myself later this spring when I have a chance, and then try to get multiple estimates.  It's quite possible that the $35,000 estimate was that high because the siding was hiding the condition of the stucco below.  Maybe I can get a better estimate once the stucco underneath is completely visible.

Thanks for your input.  I think your advice about trying to get multiple quotes and avoiding the low quote is a good one. 

(post #56338, reply #2 of 13)

Since your stucco has been painted, you can't just stucco over it.  The new stucco would just fall off.  There are two ways to go:  patch and paint, or sandblast and stucco. 

This is one of those unfortunate situations where you can't really make a good decision until you've committed yourself to a major job by pulling the aluminum off.  With the aluminum off, you'll be able to see what you really have to deal with.


-- J.S.




-- J.S.


(post #56338, reply #3 of 13)

If you reapply the stucco netting (lathe) there is no reason to not stucco. It's done all the time.


(post #56338, reply #7 of 13)

Ah, yes.  I should have said you can't just scrub coat it with stucco. 

The options to compare are:

1.  Sandblast, patch to get an even surface, then scrub coat.

2.  Nail up new chicken wire, stucco as if it were a whole new job.

Again, you have to take the aluminum off before you can make an informed decision.


-- J.S.




-- J.S.