WHAT IS STUCCO?
Stucco is a mixture of Portland cement, lime, sand, and water. Synthetic stucco is also produced with a slightly different mix. You can read more about EIFS Vs Traditional Stucco
Stucco is known for being a flexible and durable material. Most of the time there is a 20-warranty included on stucco siding projects.
There are three types of systems that you can choose from when installing stucco on your home. The first system is a 1-step system, which is one application over a rigid foam board. The 2-step system requires an adhesive before two coats of stucco are applied. Finally, the 3-step system has three steps or layers, beginning with an asphalt-infused paper, followed by a layer of metal lath, then a layer of stucco. The 3-step system also has a finish coat that can be any color and can also have texture.
All stucco siding systems must employ a properly installed drainage system between the stucco and the house sheathing to prevent water damage and mold.
WHAT IS VINYL SIDING?
Vinyl siding has been used for homes since the 1950’s. It was not widely accepted in the beginning due to issues with cracking, sagging, fading, and buckling. Technology used to manufacture vinyl siding has advanced, so both the quality and the ease of installation has improved. Vinyl siding is made by using a PVC (polyvinyl chloride) resin, which creates a durable plastic form that can be a variety of shapes, textures, and colors. Vinyl is the most popular option throughout the United States for homeowner’s choice of siding. Horizontal planks in many profiles and horizontal board & batten styles mimic wood siding. Panels made to look like cedar shingles and shakes cost more and are often used as accent siding.
Related Reading: Cabin Log Siding Options, Cost & Manufacturers
Installing stucco is a quick process, but is not recommended for the average “do it yourself” individual. The following are the necessary steps needed to apply stucco to your home’s exterior:
- Make any necessary repairs to the home’s sheathing so that it provides a sound, uniformly smooth base for stucco
- Cover the exterior of your home with a vapor barrier
- Install wire mesh
- Apply the stucco to the mesh using whatever system you choose
- Give the stucco time to cure or harden
- Either texture or smooth the finish coat after it has been applied
When installing vinyl siding, the initial steps are the same.
Then nailing strips are fastened to the home, and planks are fitted into them. Various trim pieces such as J-channel, outside corners and inside corners are used to enclose/hide the edges of the siding.
Vinyl siding vs stucco siding cost shows a significant difference, though depending on your budget, can be options for the exterior of your home. The more expensive the vinyl siding you purchase, the more durable it will be and the more wood-like it will look. You will pay anywhere from $4 to $8 per square foot to install most vinyl siding. Cost might rise above that if a large percentage of the home is covered in faux shake/shingle panels.
Stucco is higher in price. It generally costs between $8 and $15 per square foot for a stucco sided exterior.
Considering lifetime cost, stucco is a cheaper option over 60-100 years since it is far more durable.
The lifespan of stucco can be long, depending on the location and climate. In a dry climate with proper maintenance and care, stucco siding can last up to 60 or more years. In fact, some houses have been known to have their original stucco siding for more than 100 years.
Vinyl siding can last 50 years, but the chances are it will show fading and cracks by that time. 20-35 years is a more reasonable expectation.
Maintaining both stucco and vinyl siding is relatively easy to do. Stucco is very hard and is not often damaged. The only normal maintenance required for stucco is cleaning it with soap, water, and a brush as needed. Power washing with light pressure is OK too, but be cautious.
Vinyl siding will need to be cleaned every year or so. Many homeowners tend to use a power washer, again with light pressure, to get the grime and dirt off of the siding. You can also use a bristle brush, with soap and water to clean vinyl siding.
Stucco and vinyl siding are good choices in both hot and cold climates. However, the quality of the vinyl siding will determine how well it holds up in the cold weather.
Cheap vinyl siding can become brittle and crack easily when the weather is cold, especially if it is impacted. Stucco is less suitable for any area that receives a lot of rain. This is because stucco is somewhat porous and can absorb moisture from the rain if the paint or seal wears thin. Stucco in regions with heavy rainfall will not last nearly as long as stucco that is in a drier climate.
The appearance of vinyl siding and stucco is quite different. What fits your neighborhood’s norms? While stucco works anywhere, vinyl siding might be out of place in upscale areas.
The longer you plan to live in your home, maybe even pass it on to the next generation, the more it makes sense to choose stucco vs vinyl siding.
Wherever you live, keep climate considerations noted above in mind.
And here’s a final tip: There are a lot of quality vinyl siding installers in most areas. But stucco installers that know their stuff are harder to find. If you choose stucco, do your due diligence on contractors before hiring one for the job. Discuss how they plan to install a drainage system that will protect your home from devastating water damage.