A Brief History of Stucco – What Exactly Is It?

History-of-Stucco-What-Exactly-Is It

Stucco, cement plaster, portland cement plaster, and acrylic stucco are the general terms used to refer to stucco exterior cladding. Portland cement plaster often referred to as “stucco”, is one of the oldest construction materials in the world.

professional-stucco-installationWhy stucco is also called portland cement plaster? Portland does not refer to a geographic location. Instead, it refers to a kind of hard stone “portland stone” that a young bricklayer, Joseph Aspdin of Leeds, England was trying to imitate over 150 years ago. He experimented with different limestones and clays and finally found a way to create a hydraulic cement, the cement that hardens even underwater and is not affected by exposure to water.

He patented the product as portland cement in 1824. The first record of portland cement in the US was in 1868. European manufacturers began shipping it here as ballast in huge steamships at very low freight rates. Production in the U.S. began in the 1870s. Today millions of tons are used annually; predominately for concrete, but only a small percentage of the total output is used in the plastering industry.

Use of Portland Cement in Stucco

Stucco is an exterior cladding that provides a weather-resistant facing to the exteriors of buildings. Stucco is composed of portland cement, which is “hydraulic cement” – meaning that it will harden with exposure to water. The composition of the cement is approximately 80% sand, portland cement powder, lime, and an appropriate amount of water. Other things that are added to the mixture are used to make it more spreadable and to increase resistance to water.

The General Attributes of Stucco


  • Impact Resistant
  • Abrasion Resistant

Weather Resistance

  • Resistant to rain penetration
  • Resistant to thermal and moisture changes
  • Resistant to Acid rain, wind snow, and sleet

Light Weight:

  • 1/2” thick 5.89lbs
  • 3/4” thick 8.85lbs
  • 1” thick 11.78lbs

Fire Resistance

  • Noncombustible
  • No flame spreading
  • Will not smoke

Cement Stucco Curing

Cement stucco is a cementitious product, which means it is made of cement and needs to cure. Curing refers to the chemical reaction that causes the cement to go from a thick liquid state to very hard material. Curing is achieved by the stucco reaching a reasonable degree of hydration. This hydration may occur naturally or it may have to be misted with water by a light sprayer. Dry, hot weather may cause conditions that make the cement dry too quickly and therefore needs to be misted.

Types of Stucco

The 2 types of stucco cladding are:

Sand/Cement Stucco Cladding

This is the basic sand cement stucco mixture used for centuries. The colors are limited because it is tinted with natural oxide pigments. Cement stucco has a very long life span and will get harder and harder as it absorbs
moisture. Cement stucco can also be layered onto the building in thick textures and can hide bumps and imperfections on the building.

Acrylic Stucco

Acrylic-stuccoAcrylic stucco is an acrylic-based flexible coating with no cement in the mixture. Since it is acrylic it resembles paint and can be pigmented to almost any color the user desires.

Acrylic is more expensive and requires more time to apply. It is only used as a topcoat since traditional cement stucco must be applied as the base coat.

The advantage of an acrylic topcoat is that it does not absorb water and since it has polymers it can bridge hairline cracks.

Stucco Cladding Color

Stucco cladding color depends on the type of cladding used.

Acrylic Stucco Cladding Color

Acrylic stucco cladding can be tinted to almost any color a customer requests. The process may take a few weeks but many stucco companies do offer a lab that can produce custom colors. The color is a liquid that is added to the finished mix of the stucco. Customers are warned about using dark colors as the UV resistance decreases in heavily pigmented colors. Colors that most often experience problems with fading are reds, dark blues, dark browns, and dark greens. Most manufacturers have a warning on their color charts to advise you of these problems. Not all manufacturers have color charts for their acrylic colors rather they match to paint chips found at your local paint store.

Sand/Cement Stucco Cladding Color

Cement stucco is pigmented with dry pigment powders that are mined from the ground. Because these naturally occurring

Stucco Texture

Acrylic stucco comes in 2 common textures, sand float, and scroll. These textures can differ in the size of the aggregate used and are referred to as fine, medium, and coarse. Some contractors have their own style of finish and can create unique looks. Cement stucco has an endless variety of textures that can be achieved. There are no industry standards for classification or application techniques. What is commonly known as Spanish texture may be quite different in Ohio than it is in Florida. Many contractors have their own style of application and can achieve different looks. Asking your contractor what he is skilled in will open up texture possibilities.

In the Market For Stucco?

Are you still trying to figure out your options on stucco installation in Miami, FL? Why not request a FREE estimate now and get in touch with local professionals to discuss your options.