Stucco siding is known for its long-lasting beauty and durability. But over time, problems can pop up that can not only affect the aesthetics of your stucco siding but it’s longevity. 

Although stucco is the most popular siding material in the Southwest, in more humid climates, moisture damage is a common problem. But in any climate, over time, cracks can develop as your home settles, or nasty rust stains can ruin the look of your stucco siding. 

Being proactive and aware of the typical problems with stucco helps you stay ahead of the game. Great Guys Painting describes the most common problems with stucco and best of all, explains how to fix those problems before you paint so your home remains protected.

Most Common Problems with Stucco

Most stucco problems are a result of moisture or rainwater getting trapped behind the stucco. Trapped moisture can cause serious damage but it’s important to be aware of the other most common stucco problems that will need to be fixed before painting.


Most stucco will eventually develop cracks. Hairline cracks are common due to settling or shifting ground, while larger cracks are frequently the result of underlying problems. Cracks can also be caused by inferior stucco mixing or amateurish installation.

Water Intrusion and Moisture 

Moisture problems can arise even in arid climates. This can be due to unsuspected water leaks, improperly installed irrigation, or poor drainage. Additionally, if the flashing is poorly installed or has weakened over time, it can allow rainwater and moisture to seep under the stucco. Another potential problem arises when gutters and downspouts are failing or improperly installed, as they too can permit moisture to penetrate behind the stucco. Moreover, it’s important to be cautious with planting and landscaping. If they meet up with stucco siding, they can be a source of moisture issues. This water intrusion and moisture buildup can lead to the growth of mold and mildew and can even rot the wooden framing of your home. Ultimately, moisture damage behind stucco can create unhealthy conditions in and around your dwelling.

Discoloration and Stains

Stained stucco can be caused by contaminants that drain off your roof. Improperly installed flashing or incorrectly installed gutters and downspouts can also cause stains on stucco. Additionally, stains can also result from moisture that is trapped under the stucco.

Missing or Dried Out Caulk 

Whenever caulk dries out and shrinks or is missing, the watertight seal it originally created is lost. Missing or dried out caulk allows moisture to enter behind the stucco siding. Most commonly, missing or dried out caulk around doors and windows causes serious moisture problems.

The Stucco Extends Below the Foundation or Below Grade

Stucco siding should end at least two inches above grade so that it doesn’t come in contact with standing water. When the stucco extends below the foundation or below grade, you’ll notice peeling, flaking, crumbling, cracking, and even mildew and mold.

Peeling and Chipping Paint

Peeling, chipping, and bubbling paint is often a result of stucco that’s been painted with an oil-based paint. Oil-based paint doesn’t allow stucco to breathe naturally and will seal moisture underneath.

How to Fix Stucco Problems Before Painting

When you notice any of the common problems on your stucco, you’ll need to fix them before you paint, otherwise you’ll be facing some extensive and expensive repairs down the line.

Some problems, like hairline cracks, are an easy DIY fix while other more serious problems will require a stucco pro to determine the underlying cause of the problem and then complete the work. There are two main types of stucco fixes:


Stucco repair usually involves adding masonry caulk or patch and more stucco to fix cosmetic and minor problems. Repair can usually be accomplished as a DIY project but it doesn’t always address the underlying problem.

Stucco Remediation 

Stucco remediation directly addresses the underlying cause of the problem. A stucco contractor has the expertise and experience to remediate the issues and make the necessary repairs.

Fixing Stucco Problems

How to Fix Cracks

  • Hairline cracks smaller than 1/16th of an inch can be filled with primer and paint.
  • Cracks larger than 1/16th of an inch but no larger than ½ inch should be cleaned of debris then filled with masonry caulk.
  • Cracks larger than ½ inch will need to be cleaned and repaired with a stucco patch that will give the surrounding stucco more support.
  • In all crack repairs, be sure to let the product dry according to manufacturer’s directions before painting.

How to Fix Water Intrusion and Moisture

  • Determine the source of the water intrusion or moisture and fix it first. Remember, water intrusion and moisture can be caused by faulty rain gutters and downspouts, dried out or missing caulk, weakened flashing, landscaping that is too close to the stucco, and other reasons. 
  • Once the cause is remediated, then use masonry caulk to seal around anything that penetrates through the stucco. This includes:
    • Wiring
    • Piping
    • Electrical outlets
    • Light fixtures
    • Fans
    • Meter boxes
    • Dryer vents
    • The space where wood contacts stucco, such as a wooden deck

How to Fix Stains

  • Stains don’t occur on their own – they’re the result of an underlying problem.
  • Determine the underlying cause of the stains and remediate them.
  • After washing the stucco, let it dry completely and then apply a stain block over the stain before priming and painting.

How to Fix Missing or Dried Out Caulk

  • Although this is an easy fix, you’ll need to investigate for any underlying damage before you apply fresh caulk.
  • If there is no underlying damage to the stucco, go ahead and thoroughly clean out remnants of dried caulk and then apply new exterior latex caulk.

The Stucco Extends Below the Foundation or Below Grade

  • Contact a stucco contractor who will inspect the extent of the problem.
  • The stucco contractor will make the necessary remediations to restore the stucco to a level that won’t create secondary problems.

Peeling and Chipping Paint

  • If the peeling and chipping is due to the stucco having been painted with an oil-based paint, check to see if moisture is trapped under the stucco and if so, conduct the necessary remediation.
  • Once you’re sure there is no moisture causing the peeling and chipping, consult with a painting contractor. A pro may suggest sandblasting the stucco to remove the oil-based paint but may have other suggestions based on your particular situation.

Great Guys Painting is committed to helping you make sure your stucco siding problems are expertly repaired or remediated. Although some DIY repairs are easy to manage, you’ll want a trustworthy stucco contractor to remediate the serious problems. 

Avoid long confusing online searches and let Great Guys Painting quickly connect you with an expert near you. At Great Guys, we vet every contractor in our network to make sure they’re licensed, insured, and completely reliable. Don’t let stucco problems cause you stress and  worry. You can take care of them quickly and efficiently when you get a fast free quote through Great Guys Painting.  


Solve your stucco problems today with a free quote from Great Guys Painting. It just takes a few minutes to be connected with a stucco painting professional who can resolve your stucco dilemma. Ask for a free quote now!