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Many people suffer from stucco problems from time to time, and it can be a worrying issue. Seeing cracks on your walls and ceiling might make you wonder if your home is slowly caving in or if it will suddenly demolish.

Stucco itself is a cement material used for building, and while it serves its purposes well, it can crack. What is important is knowing how to spot stucco cracks and the best ways to get them repaired quickly. 

Types of Stucco

There are two main types of stucco which are synthetic and traditional.

Synthetic Stucco

Synthetic stucco uses acrylic resin instead of cement and lime. It dries quickly and evenly on surfaces. Stucco is resistant to water damage, a convenient feature for persons living in areas with bad weather. The acrylic resin used in synthetic stucco makes it less likely to break or crack.

Traditional Stucco 

Traditional stucco is made of water, lime, and sand. Other materials are sometimes added, such as cement to increase durability and fibers, acrylic, and glass to make it strong. Traditional stucco is sometimes preferred due to its versatile nature, as it can be formed with either a rough or smooth finish.

Stucco Finishes

Apart from the types of stucco you can use on your home, there are also a variety of finishes that give your home a different look.


Sand is one of the most popular finishes used for traditional and synthetic stucco. It can be sprayed on or applied generally with just one coat.


Dash finish is applied in 1-3 coats and has a light, medium, or heavy volume, and can be used for both traditional and synthetic. 


While English is only compatible with Traditional stucco, it is an elegant-looking finish that adds a nice touch as a finish. Though generally used in older homes, there has been a comeback in newer buildings. 

Lace and Skip

Often you will find lace and skip stucco finishes on residential homes. It has a rough texture and can be applied by hand, applied with a trowel, or sprayed. After the base coat, you can choose a fine, medium, or coarse pattern.

Cat Face

This finish often includes a mixture of rough patches and smooth sections. The rough patches are known as inclusions and can have varied sizes. Cat face finish is ideal for use on both traditional and synthetic stucco and you can make your finish unique. 

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara finish has a smooth appearance and uses fine sand particles for a finished look. It is common to add color variations that can be adjusted easily by painting.


Worm finish can be hard to fix if it cracks and its popularity has waned over the years, so it’s not that common anymore. Because of how it’s applied, this stucco will look different in each home. 

Smooth Texture

Unlike the Worm finish, Smooth Texture is a popular finish as it is versatile. It can be applied to traditional and synthetic stucco but works best on the latter. 

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Types of Stucco Cracks

To differentiate between stucco cracks, first have an idea about how they look and what causes them. Here are a few of the most common stucco cracks in a home. 

Spider Cracks

While these cracks may not be the easiest to spot, they have a tell-tale sign – a spider-web appearance. It usually results when the base coat from painting does not cure properly. Essentially, the plaster may have dried too quickly, too much liquid was present, or incorrectly applied at the wrong temperature.

What then happens is that the plaster does not settle properly, and then spiderweb-like cracks will appear after some time. If not corrected quickly, this can worsen and result in rotting. It’s best to consult a stucco contractor to have it repaired before this happens.

Hairline Cracks

Hairlines cracks are common but can cause significant damage to your home. They are thin lines that can result from the quivering caused by bad weather or construction issues. Sometimes the plaster can crack from stress. Stress cracks are especially the case when the home is brand new. 

You can spot hairline cracks easily because they are 1/16 of an inch wide or even smaller. If the crack gets wider, it can cause damage to the home, which is why you should fix any hairline cracks urgently. It’s best to check for hairline cracks every year. Once found, the area should be cleaned and fixed with the proper material.

Pattern Cracks

Pattern Cracks will vary and look different in every home. However, the key sign is that these cracks have a pattern-like structure. Pattern cracks may appear if metal lath is applied poorly at the inception.

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The lath may not have been nailed correctly which causes cracking in the structure. If a wire was used as the lathe, there should be cause for concern as more cracks are likely to appear over time. The solution is to break the stucco and replace the lath.

Because pattern cracking is more difficult to fix, it’s best to hire a professional and avoid more serious issues.

Diagonal Cracks

These cracks are just what their namesake state – they run diagonally across your wall or home. You will find them mostly near windows or doors and are formed vibrations in these parts of the house. Diagonal cracks are sometimes a sign that there is an issue with the structure of the home, rather than problems with the stucco.


Causes of Diagonal Cracks

Due to the house shifting or settling into place or even seismic movements, cracks in the stucco are likely to concur. These cracks are usually ⅛ of an inch or larger. If the cracks become wider, it can result in structural damage.


Another reason for these stucco cracks includes soil movement, like expansive soil. Common occurrences such as storms with strong winds, tornados, hurricanes, and cyclones, can result in diagonal cracking in the home. 

If there were framing defects or if the foundation of the house drops, this will usually result in a diagonal stucco as some type of shifting took place. The best solution to correcting diagonal cracks is to hire a contractor and have your home evaluated to be sure it is structurally sound. 

Final Thoughts

While stucco is a suitable material that’s used by many householders, it is liable to damage and can cause serious problems if the issues are not addressed in a timely manner. Having diagonal cracks is a significant drawback because it usually means there is an issue with the home’s foundation.

Though the cracks are usually ⅛th  of an inch wide, they can become wider and this can signal a downward slop to structural damage. If this does happen to your home, it’s best to get an evaluation as soon as possible to avoid matters getting worse. 

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