“Acrylic” is a style of finish that is part of a three coat system over paper and wire lath with two concrete layers and a smooth textured acrylic finish. The smoother finish is created by the 1-3mm aggregate, (different sizes create a different look – though they look the same from a distance), within the finish product. NOTE: It is essential to insure your stucco contractor is using an elastomeric finish rather than the more common product meant for the EIF system. The elastomeric coating permits more stretching of the finish coat allowing the bridging of the hairline cracking inherent in a cement stucco system. This type of stucco has all the benefits of the California style but with the added benefits of limitless color choices and reduction in visible hairline cracking. It also provides a look that is widely considered to be more modern. Because of the flatter finish, that acrylic is known for, it requires greater technical expertise from its applicators than California Stucco generally does.
“EIFS” stands for Exterior Insulating Finishing System and – as the name implies – adds insulating value to your home or commercial building. The EIF system offers unlimited color and design potential. Custom profiles of all sizes and design can be added to beautify any structure – be it residential or commercial – and at a price that defies its stone or concrete counterparts. Foam profiles can also be added to a concrete 3 coat system. Another “huge” factor in choosing an EIF system is that it virtually eliminates any form of cracking – when properly applied. While I personally have worked with this system for many years and have complete faith in its system dynamics, including superior manufacturer warranties – there are two potential road blocks for its application. 1) The building code in your area may not allow it in residential construction.
2) Wood Peckers are increasingly known to drill holes in it, (roughly 2 inches in diameter), higher up on the wall, destroying the look of an otherwise beautiful wall. There are, however, products now available to “Pecker Proof” your home, though they come at an added expense.
“California Stucco”, also know as “Textured Stucco” is a Portland cement-based, 3 coat system using a cementious rather than acrylic final coat. After the finish color is applied the colored texture is then “drag coated” on top providing the final look. This type of stucco generally has the lowest price point and more limiting color selection. Note: 1) As concrete is applied over a large vertical plain on a wood substrate, (which expands and contracts), it is impossible to guarantee against hairline cracking. I do take great care in following a few simple rules to insure that the inherent cracking in the system is minimized. 2) There are risks for the contractor in applying the cement finish due to susceptibility to color changes. Darker colors should be avoided unless used for color variation on profiles.
Alternative Stucco finishes. There are several styles of finish not mentioned here that you may wish to explore. If you see something you’d like to match, simply take a picture and note the address. One alternative worth mentioning is a “textured acrylic”. It provides the look of a California style finish, but with unlimited palette and guaranteed color consistency. It also has a price point somewhere between the higher priced Acrylic style and lower priced California.
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