Stucco is beautiful and can add attractive curb appeal to your home when it’s in good condition. But if your stucco looks grungy or you want to update the color, you may consider painting it. But paint and stucco aren’t always best friends.

If you understand the special features and requirements of stucco, paint can maintain the durability, beauty, and add to the lifespan of your home’s stucco finish. Great Guys Painting helps you understand the 5 key things to avoid when painting your stucco.

1. Do NOT Paint Wet Stucco

New Stucco

If you’re planning to paint new stucco you’ll need to let it dry and cure completely. New stucco has a very high (alkaline) PH which will need time to cure. As the stucco dries and cures, the PH lowers and can accept paint more reliably. 

When paint is applied over wet stucco, it will likely result in color fading and paint deterioration due to its high PH. Therefore, it’s best to allow new stucco to dry over a number of days so that it can properly cure.

Washed Stucco

If you plan to paint older stucco, it will need to be cleaned first.

  • If the stucco isn’t particularly dirty, it can be cleaned with a broom. However, if cleaning with a broom doesn’t do the job, or you see signs of mildew or mold, you’ll need to gently wash the stucco with a stucco approved cleaner. 
  • A rough stucco texture can be especially tricky to get thoroughly clean, so if necessary, you can use a power washer on the gentlest force (no more than 1,500 – 2,500 pounds per square inch). Be sure to thoroughly rinse the cleaner. Do NOT tackle this step of the painting process during wet weather because the stucco will need to be completely dry before you paint. 

The Weather Forecast

OK, we’ve talked about the importance of not painting your stucco when it’s new or when it’s freshly washed and cleaned. Maybe you feel you’ve followed the advice in step 1 and you’re ready to paint. But have you checked the weather forecast for the actual painting? High humidity or rain = wet. Your wet stucco will not be paintable until it dries thoroughly so be sure to check the weather forecast before painting.

2. Do NOT Paint Until After You’ve Repaired All Cracking and Damage

After cleaning the stucco, you’ll need to inspect all the walls and repair any cracks or damage with stucco caulk or a masonry patch. 

  • Hairline Cracks – Small hairline cracks will usually be filled when you apply a high quality paint formulated for stucco. 
  • Large Cracks – Larger cracks can allow moisture to enter behind the stucco and if left unrepaired, will become a serious problem over time. 
  • Timing of Repairs – You’ll need to complete this step when the stucco is thoroughly dry and before you paint. 
  • Time to Cure – Depending on the stucco patching compound you use, it may need up to ten days to cure before you paint. 

3. Do NOT Use Oil-Based Paints or Primers on Stucco

Stucco is made of water, lime, cement, and sand and therefore is naturally porous. It must be allowed to breathe so that water vapor and air can pass through the stucco finish.

  • Oil-Based Paints Seal in Moisture – Because oil-based paints act as a sealer on top of the stucco finish, moisture can get trapped under the stucco. Eventually the paint will peel and bubble from trapped moisture.
  • Moisture is the Enemy – As all homeowners know, moisture is the enemy of a healthy home because it leads to dangerous mold and mildew build-up. 
    • When stucco can’t breathe, moisture gets trapped and can wick into your wood framing. 
    • As a result, you’ll get wood rot and dangerous mold build-up.
  • Which Paint is Best? If you shouldn’t use oil-based, then which paint is best for stucco? 
    • Choose either an elastomeric paint that expands and contracts or an exterior acrylic latex paint. 
    • Just be aware that any kind of paint, even water-based, can compromise the natural attributes of stucco and to some degree, lock in moisture. Therefore, choose a paint that is recommended for stucco to make sure it’s weather resistant but allows breathability.

4. Do NOT use Satin or High Gloss Paint on Stucco

Even if you go with a water-based paint, it can be tempting to use a high gloss or satin finish on stucco with the thought that it will be easier to clean. 

  • Highlights Imperfections – Because stucco is highly textured, satin or high gloss paint doesn’t make it easier to clean. It only will highlight imperfections or flaws.
  • Reflects Light – Satin or high gloss paint will also cause light to reflect, creating unattractive unnatural shadowing. Stucco should be painted with a flat paint that reduces any reflection and shadowing. 

5. Do NOT Choose Cheap Paint

It can be tempting to choose a cheaper paint, but you’ll definitely regret it in the long run. 

  • A Word on Cheap Paint – Cheap paint doesn’t have the high quality ingredients that will allow your stucco to properly expand and contract. Without expansion and contraction, the stucco can’t breathe properly and eventually the paint will peel, bubble, and chip.
  • Stucco Requires More Paint – Some DIYers choose cheap paint when they find out that they’ll need about twice as much paint to cover stucco as other finishes.
    • Typically a gallon of paint will cover 400 square feet.
    • You’ll need two gallons of paint to cover 400 square feet of stucco.
  • Choose a High Quality Paint and Don’t Skimp – As long as you’re going to the trouble and expense of painting, choose a high quality paint that will look beautiful and keep your stucco protected. Remember, you get what you pay for applies to painting your stucco just like it does with so many other DIY projects.

Now that you know the five key mistakes to avoid when painting your stucco, are you ready to paint? If the answer is yes, but you just don’t feel confident painting your stucco on your own or your schedule is just too full, it’s easy to find stucco painting experts when you get a free quote from Great Guys Painting. 

The benefit to finding a professional painter through Great Guys is that every professional we connect you with is vetted to ensure they’re not only completely reputable, but are also licensed and insured. Don’t take the chance of hiring an uninsured or non-licensed painter because you won’t be protected if something unsuspected happens. Safeguard yourself and your property by hiring an expert stucco painter who is knowledgeable, licensed, and insured! Plus, an expert understands the special requirements of painting stucco and will make sure the job is done right.


Ready to hire a professional stucco painter? Great Guys Painting will quickly connect you with the best experts near you so you can get started right away. Request a free quote today!