Q: We have cedar shingles on our home and love them. We had a difficult time finding someone to restore them until I mentioned it to a retired contractor. He had leftover oil preservative, which his son-in-law used to paint the shingles for $800. Now it’s time to do it again.
However, our daughter and son-in-law are buying our home, and their friends said the ugliest thing about this house is the wood shingles. They think they will take the shingles down and put up stucco. Is that possible?
A: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and these friends seem to want to indulge their sense of beauty at significant expense to your daughter and son-in-law.
Replacing cedar shingles with stucco is certainly possible, but be prepared to part with a large chunk of change for the gargantuan job it will be to make the switch. We’re always amused to see “friends” try to spend someone else’s money. Although we’re sure the intentions are good, the money sunk into stuccoing the house could be better used in other places.
You got the deal of the century with your $800 shingle treatment. Expect to pay more to do it again — but replacing the shingles with stucco is exponentially more expensive.
The extra cost is in the increased number of steps and expert labor required in the stucco process versus the relatively few steps and less skilled labor required to treat the shingles.
Assuming the shingles are in good shape, the job is pretty simple. Clean the shingles with a pressure washer to remove any dirt and debris. Let them dry. Then spray or brush on another coat of preservative. That’s it.
On the other hand, replacing the shingles with stucco is a multistep process requiring skilled labor.
Removing the shingles isn’t rocket science, but once the shingles are off, the rest of the job should be left to the pros.
Each shingle must be pried off with a bar — a flat shovel works well. Once off, the split shingles should be dispatched to the landfill. When all of the shingles are gone, the many thousands of nails and any building paper that remains stuck on the wood sheathing must be removed.
Start wrapping the entire house in 15-pound building felt. Make sure to overlap the courses so that any water that penetrates the stucco will be wicked away from the sheathing. Next, apply the lath. Stucco lath is steel mesh that is nailed to the sides of the house, over the building felt. If the lath looks like chicken wire, special nails equipped with a cardboard spacer are used to hold the lath away from the wall.
A perforated metal strip known as a weep screed is attached at the bottom of the wall. The weep screed performs two functions: It acts as a base for the wet stucco, and when the stucco is dry, allows any moisture to drain away from the wall.
Once the lath is on, it’s time for the first coat of stucco, known as the scratch coat. Stucco consists of sand, lime, Portland cement and water mixed either by hand or in a mixer to the consistency of thick mud. A job this size requires a mixer.
The scratch coat is applied by trowel, which forces the wet stucco into the lath, forming “keys.” The scratch coat should be approximately 3/8 inch thick. Once the scratch coat sets up, it’s important to spray the surface intermittently with water so the surface doesn’t dry too quickly. Slowing the curing process makes for a stronger job that is resistant to cracks.
Let the scratch coat cure for a day or two and repeat the process by applying a second coat of stucco, known as the brown coat. The brown coat should also be about 3/8 inch thick. The brown coat provides a flat uniform layer to apply the finish coat.
Allow the brown coat to cure for a couple of days, again spritzing it regularly, and then apply the finish coat. Color can be added to the finish coat and it can also be textured. When complete, the stucco should be about an inch thick.
A large stucco job is a messy process. Count on vegetation being damaged by dropped stucco, workman’s feet and scaffolding. In addition, the wood shingle molding around windows and doors should be replaced with wood stucco molding. Stucco molding is milled with a groove to allow the wet stucco to “key” into the molding.
Replacing what seem to be perfectly good wood shingles with stucco is a huge and expensive undertaking. Absent a compelling reason to make the change, we’d counsel against it.