Over the past 2 decades, there have been an alarming number of stucco homes in need of remediation. The damage that led to these remediations is the result of a combination of factors that stem from newer construction techniques and materials being used.
First, there was a lack of understanding of how to best use the latest techniques and materials. Second, the problems associated with these techniques and materials were new and therefore unforeseen. And third, the increased use of unskilled labor compounded the problems with improper installations.
Today, experienced contractors know the strengths and weaknesses of the newer techniques and materials. This means they can plan ahead to prevent known problems, such as moisture intrusion, from wreaking havoc on your home.
Pure Masonry Construction
In the past, buildings were often made of pure masonry, meaning that stone or brick made up the underlying construction of the buildings. Not only are these materials visually striking, but their durability meant homes constructed with them would last.
When stucco was used as an exterior finish, it was typically applied directly to the masonry. This made it difficult for moisture intrusion to happen. And if it did, the worst that would generally happen is that the stucco finish would crack, chip, and need to be replaced.
Unfortunately, there are three, fairly substantial drawbacks to constructing homes and other buildings purely out of masonry. These drawbacks are the price, weight of the materials, and skill required to properly install the materials.
Masonry is more expensive than other forms of construction. The materials themselves are more expensive, as is the cost of labor. Veneers that mimic the aesthetic of masonry are a more economical option.
Masonry is also heavier than most modern building materials. This makes it harder to handle, leading to slower construction. And this weight can be limiting because masonry walls need to be constructed in such a way that they withstand their own weight.
Skill Required for Masonry
Lastly, masonry requires higher-skilled labor to properly install. Many single-home builders may not have the skills and experience for this type of construction. That, in turn, drives the price up.
Modernization and Veneers
While pure masonry construction still exists, there are easier, faster, and cheaper ways to achieve the same aesthetic. That’s where the variety of modern veneers and exterior siding options come in.
Most modern homes are referred to as “stick-built” homes. This simply means that the underlying structure of the home is made of wood and not masonry, poured concrete, or some other material.
Veneers and other siding materials are placed over the wooden frame and other underlying materials, such as insulation. By using these exterior options, your home can have any style you desire. Stucco, vinyl siding, wood panels, stone and brick veneer, and even metal are all popular choices.
There are even manufactured siding options, such as manufactured stone, brick, and wood. These are cheaper than their natural counterparts and often have additional benefits like increased durability or reduced weight.
Veneers, even manufactured veneers, can make a building appear to be constructed out of masonry. For most applications, veneers meet the needs of homeowners better than pure masonry does.
Modern building techniques and materials aren’t solely used as a way to cut costs. They’re more efficient as well. Quarrying natural stone, for example, has more of an environmental impact than producing manufactured stone veneer. Even natural stone veneer uses less stone than pure masonry.
More important for consumers is the fact that modern homes are also more energy-efficient thanks to these techniques and materials. That leads to reduced costs over time, especially heating and cooling costs.
Why Is Moisture Suddenly a Problem?
Now it’s time to get to the question posed in the title of this article. Why is moisture such a big issue for modern buildings? Why do modern buildings need moisture protection when that hasn’t historically been a consideration?
It all comes down to how the walls of modern buildings are constructed in layers. No building is 100% waterproof, even pure masonry buildings. So, water will inevitably get between the layers of the walls of a modern home.
The problem is when moisture becomes trapped between these layers, most often the exterior cladding (veneer, siding, etc.) and the internal structure of the wall. This can lead to mold and mildew growth as well as the rotting of the wooden frame of the home.
With pure masonry, there typically aren’t layers for moisture to become trapped between. And even if there are, any damage is often superficial. There’s no wooden frame to rot. In many cases, bubbling, cracking, and chipping paint or other exterior finishes are going to be the primary concerns.
Modern Solutions to Modern Problems
Many home builders in the 2000s and even up into the 2010s were using modern techniques and materials without considering how they would be affected by moisture. That’s why we’ve seen so many of these homes fail and require extensive remediation recently.
Luckily, solutions to these moisture problems have been developed and are implemented near-universally in new construction. They include the use of flashing, weep screeds, air vents, and more.
Learn about how homes in Chester County, PA required remediation due to the improper installation of stucco.
Flashing helps to prevent moisture from intruding into the walls around windows, doors, and other openings. Weep screeds allow for any moisture that does get in to flow out through the bottom of the walls. And air vents provide a way for any residual moisture within the walls to be dried up.
Friel Plastering & Stucco
Chances are, your home is stick-built and has an exterior veneer or siding of some sort. If that’s the case, it’s important to have an inspection done roughly once per year to gauge the moisture levels within your walls.
Whether your home exterior is stone or brick veneer, stucco, wood plank, vinyl siding, or anything else, water can cause severe damage beneath the surface.
At Friel Plastering & Stucco, our experienced team of home siding contractors can perform moisture inspections and inform you of your options should any issues be uncovered. We can even perform a full remediation of your home if need be. Contact us today to learn more.