Stucco Siding Cost, Plus Pros and Cons in 2017

Stucco siding is a plaster-like cladding, specially blended for exterior weathering. It’s a very popular siding option with over half of new single-family homes sold in the western quadrant of the U.S. having such an exterior. In fact, according to the 2015 U.S. Census data, stucco (and not vinyl) is the #1 siding option in America.

via Western Art and Architecture

The base of stucco consists of sand, cement and lime. It may sound plain a bit like “Plain Jane”, and in many regions it may even be applied in its most simple form. But, there are so many variations to texturing and coloring of stucco that it may deserve a second look by a discerning homeowner.

Costing Information – Part 1

Application of stucco requires solid masonry skill, as cement can harden quickly. It’s usually applied in one of the two installation methods; Both entail the wooden wall sheathing as the first layer, or substrate, follower by a water barrier sheet, which in turn is followed by a metal lath so the cement layer has something to bind to. Then, there is a scratch coat of cement which makes the top layer(s) easier to apply. The two variations, are then a decision point for a homeowner who has to decide on whether it’s best to go with a single coat or multiple coats — usually 3 layers. The outermost layer is where the texturing and design are emphasized.

Stucco siding cost averages between $6.00 and $14.00 per sq. ft. installed. Higher costs per sq. ft. come mainly from additional layers and/or sophisticated design techniques, such as dashing (which we’ll cover below). Cost factors also deal with regional availability of materials and qualified installers.

A typical two bedroom sized home will have a price of $16,000 to $24,000 for a standard stucco siding. As there are numerous factors that impact the price we will help explain that, but first let’s break down the costs.

Costing Info – Part 2

When it comes to breaking down the costs of stucco siding, the materials are virtually the same for all jobs. The additional layers will increase the total cost installed, as will the more sophisticated design elements.

To help understand what a typical stucco siding estimate may entail, we’ll use 2 examples with the amount of coats being the primary difference. Please note: these are ballpark estimates based on national average information. Our section below will convey additional cost considerations that impact pricing.

Single Coat Stucco Siding: 2,000 sq. ft. x $7.50 = $15,000 (includes labor and scratch coat)
Water Barrier Sheet: $400
Metal Lath: $650 (includes fasteners, caulking and weather sealants)
Building Permit: $250

Total Project 1 Cost = $16,300

Triple Coat Stucco Siding: 2000 sq.ft. x $10.75 = $21,500 (includes labor and scratch coat)
Removal of previous siding: $1600
Garbage Rental / Disposal Charge: $900
Water Barrier Sheet: $400
Metal Lath: $650 (includes fasteners, caulking and weather sealants)
Building Permit: $250

Total Project 2 Cost = $25,300

While the 2nd project’s cost exceeds the high end of the price range we noted earlier, please note that if there is no need for the removal and disposal of the existing siding, then this would lower the project cost to $22,800, or within that earlier price range.

Factors Impacting Overall Costs

Arguably, the first factor to consider is whether the previous siding needs to be removed. In most cases, it does when it comes to stucco siding. For a newly constructed home, obviously that is not the case.

The amount of coats is a primary consideration. The reasons for having more than one layer are usually tied to the increased durability, which impacts both, the R-value and ROI.

Single coats of stucco are on the very low end of insulation properties, whereas 3-coat installations generally get as high as 1.0 R-value, which is above the average for all siding materials.

Return on the investment for stucco siding tends to be rather low, though it does vary by region and for sure involves the design aspects. Usually stucco retains 70% of its value at the time of sale of the home.

Dashing, coloring and texturing are the other factors impacting cost. This is the design aspect of stucco siding and the amount of options are too numerous to name them all. Check out The Stucco Guy’s page for an idea of some of the texture options. — You’ll notice finishes can range anywhere from rather smooth to very rough.

Colors

Colors are mixed through the coated material and generally add very little to the cost (maybe a couple hundred dollars). Dashing may sometimes be referenced with the textural finish from the trowel, but more accurately it applies to stucco installation where the facade contains additional materials, such as pebbles, shells or other minerals to provide extra depth and color.

In most areas of the U.S., dashing would be such a bold statement, it would likely be seen as eccentric. Yet, in the western to southwestern parts of the country, if done well, it is a mark of sophistication in stucco siding.

Which brings us to the last, but obvious factor impacting stucco pricing; the labor. In the southwestern states, stucco installers are easy to come by as well as the materials. Jobs are bid on with much competition among qualified contractors with extensive experience.

In other regions, stucco contractors may exist, but the competition is probably very low, which means their rates can be higher. But, given that stucco is now the #1 siding option in the U.S. and not an outlier of all the options available, the market in many regions may be more competitive than it used to be some 10 to 20 years ago.

The Good, The Bad and The Oh So Pretty

Here we list the pros, cons and chief reason for why to consider stucco siding.

The Good: Stucco Siding is a low maintenance, very durable material that can last 40 years or longer. Colors tend to fade evenly and other than occasional cracking, it generally is not subject to ongoing repairs. Being stone-like, it is resistant to critters and burning.

The Bad: While the single coat variety isn’t terribly expensive, to achieve better durability, ROI and insulation values, the three-coat application does carry a hefty price tag compared to other popular siding options. Plus it takes skill to install, especially if focusing on elegant designs. In certain regions, it can be hard to find multiple quotes that can keep costs down. Another disadvantage is in rainier climates, stucco doesn’t hold up over time as well as it does in drier/hotter climates.

The Oh So Pretty: When stucco siding is done well, from a design perspective with well blended color options between the roof, and exterior fixtures, it has a majestic but simplistic feel. Add in the durability factor, and it’s not a huge surprise why stucco siding as has become the leading siding option in America.

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