Stucco defects are common and often affect the aesthetic of your home or property. Stucco must be installed in strict accordance with code and the manufacturer installation instructions, which include the proper integration of stucco flashings with other building components and drainage capabilities. Stucco defects are most often caused by improper installation, but also can result from improper stucco mixture materials, non-uniform thickness, and insufficient strength of the cement plaster caused by improper mixing or curing of the stucco cement. Reinforcement problems can also result from missing or defective lathing wire, structural discontinuity, and inadequate attachment to the building structure.

Property owners should look for cracks or separations in the stucco, especially near window and door frame corners, including sliding glass door frames. Movement of the structure, foundation, or earth supporting the foundation can also contribute to stucco cracking. If improperly installed, stucco defects can lead to significant problems.

Causes of Stucco Defects

  • Improper or inadequate flashings and sealants
  • Excessive or patterned cracking
  • Missing weep systems or weeps below grade
  • Discoloration due to water intrusion


  • I’ve always heard that cracks are common in stucco. What makes it defective?

    Cracks happen in stucco similar to how cracks happen in concrete. Minor cracks might not be an issue unless you start to notice patterns of cracks or large cracks. Cracking in stucco can also indicate water intrusion. Some things to look for include: cracks visible from a few paces, discoloration near windows, doors and balconies and bowing or sagging. Keep in mind that water can enter the building through cracking stucco so maintaining the health of the system is key to protecting your asset.

  • What is synthetic stucco or EIFS?

    EIFS is an artificial stucco product that was designed to replace traditional stucco, siding and masonry veneer in certain climates. Traditional stucco, siding and masonry veneer systems are designed to manage water penetration through the installation of a secondary weather-resistive barrier, flashing and weeps that allow water that has penetrated the surface to escape.

    Unlike traditional systems, EIFS is a barrier system and does not incorporate the use of a secondary moisture barrier and weep system. Instead, it assumes that all water penetration can be prevented at the outer surface. Serious damage arises when water does, in fact, penetrate the outer barrier. Once the water enters the wall cavity, it cannot escape because the EIFS acts as a barrier to keep the water in the walls. Water trapped in walls that have insulation, wood and drywall creates a primary breeding ground for mold and dry rot. Often, these problems are not seen for years because growth occurs in the walls before it actually gets through the drywall to the interior of the home.

    Artificial stucco systems are no longer allowed in Colorado new construction, but there are buildings with these types of cladding. The key to protecting the building(s) is to ensure that all sealants are diligently maintained and no punctures are allowed to the system.