Italian stuccos are among some of the most popular indoor and outdoor wall treatments today. Sometimes referred to as Venetian, Tuscan, or Italian plasters, they include finishes such as stucco opaco, marmorino, mantovano, and veneziano, just to name a few.
Lime-based, these stuccos offer a true advantage to other types of wall treatments; and not only because of their own intrinsic beauty. Italian stuccos, if applied properly, however, become even more attractive as they age. But from a practical standpoint, they are also resistant to cracking and peeling, never need painting, and do not fade in sunlight.
Not only are Italian stuccos suitable for walls, many are finding this type of material ideal for columns, ceilings, and archways both inside and outside of the home.
Although some may argue the best way to have Italian stuccos applied is to hire an Italian artisan who comes from a long line of Italian stucco-ers who have passed the secrets down from generation to generation. But if you’re like the majority of us, you can better afford to learn how to do it yourself- family secrets notwithstanding.
Because the method of application varies between applying Italian stucco to an indoor or outdoor wall and also between the many different types of finishes, there is no one way in which to describe here. For that, one would need to do an online search for whichever Italian stucco method and application would be appropriate.
One thing, however, to keep in mind, is that authentic Italian stucco artisans use materials such as lime that has been aged for up to nine years. This is lime that has been imported from the Italian Alps and where it is said to be of the purest form in the world.
Chances are the average, do-it-yourselfer will not have access to this type of lime, nor will the stucco products found at local home improvement centers carry it. So don’t shoot yourself in the foot and give up from the very beginning because you cannot get “authentic” Italian-lime-based stucco. Be prepared to settle for the next best thing- the results will still be stunning.
How Stucco is Made
If you have decided that you need to learn to apply stucco to beautify your home, you will need to understand how stucco works. Stucco (also called render in the UK) is a finish made of cement, sand, lime and water. Stucco comes either premixed or you can mix it yourself. If you opt for the later, remember that your finish should be 1 part masonry cement to 3 parts sand. The lime and water are added in small amounts.
When you learn to apply stucco, and are completing your first stucco project, it is advisable that you buy premixed stucco. You may want to look for a stucco applying class at your local home improvement superstore in order to get the basics down.
Stucco can be tricky to apply, and there is a lot of prep work involved. You are better off entering the process with at least a little practice. If you cannot find a class in your area, experiment with a small portion of an exterior wall to get the technique down.
Planning Your Stucco Job
Before you being your stucco project, you will need to plan accordingly. Try to schedule your project for a day that will be overcast. Heat and direct sunlight will make stucco dry prematurely, causing cracking and other problems.
You will also want to avoid cool temperatures when applying stucco. A day that is too cool will make it difficult to trowel the stucco properly. You should schedule your project for a day that is between 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
When you learn to apply stucco, you will discover that the ideal amount of stucco to use is two to three thin coats. Two coats work well on solid surfaces such as concrete or masonry. You will also use two coats if you are stuccoing over an old stucco job. For wood frames, you need to first apply building paper to the surface, and then nail steel mesh to the building. Finally, you will use three coats of stucco to cover the walls. The steel mesh helps the stucco stay in place and hold form. This way the new stucco job will not have the shape of the old wall.
One of the best things when you learn to apply stucco is finding out about the unique features that you can add to the exterior of your home. Stucco is a versatile medium and allows a lot of creativity and individuality in its application. Stucco is available in a wide variety of colors. You can even get custom stucco mixed so you can have your ideal exterior color.
While there is a specific method you need to follow to apply stucco, the finishing coat can be applied in a variety of ways to give you different textured looks. One of the most popular is a large circular pattern. This gives interest to the exterior of the house. Before you apply the last coat of the stucco, make sure to choose what type of pattern you will be using.