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Stucco is a durable and versatile material. However, its surface can crack if the structure’s foundation settles, and other blemishes can appear over time. Many homeowners opt for covering stucco with shingles as a more permanent fix. Installing shingles over stucco can be a cost-effective way of changing the appearance of houses displaying symptoms of the passage of time.
The process requires the repair of major cracks in the stucco and the installation of furring strips before homeowners can get started. You may also need to install a rain-screen behind the shingles for moisture control. Another thing to consider is the need to extend the molding of windows and doors since the wall thickness will increase.
These are a few of the things to keep in mind when thinking about putting shingles over stucco. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of installing shingles over stucco next.
Pros and Cons of Putting Shingles Over Stucco
There are a variety of benefits to putting shingles over existing stucco. For example, removing old stucco creates a huge mess, is time-consuming, and can be extremely costly. However, there are some negatives to using shingles like the potential loss of some of the architectural features of the house.
Nowadays, cedar is one of the most popular choices for siding houses. Redwood is another popular option. However, it is quite expensive compared to cedar. Other shingles don’t have the same durability as cedar, and although they may be cheaper than cedar, they typically don’t last as long and lack the same beauty of cedar.
For that reason, our list of pros and cons will focus on cedar shingles.
Pros of Installing Shingles Over Stucco
Cedar shingles that are adequately cured are shrink resistant, so you don’t have to worry about gaps developing over time. Best of all, when properly maintained, cedar can last for decades. Additionally, cedar shingles have natural anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. For that reason, it doesn’t tend to crack, rot, or warp if left untreated.
- Finish: Cedar doesn’t have any resin or pitch and can readily absorb paint or stain. Cedar is resistant to water and has a natural tendency to turn satin-gray over time.
- Insulation: Cedar shingles provide excellent insulation that helps keep your home fresh in the summer and warm in the winter. For that reason, homeowners installing cedar shingles usually see a reduction in their utility bills.
- Natural beauty: Shingles are available in every color imaginable. Wooden shingles, like cedar, are available in natural tones to include shades of brown, red, white, and yellow.
- Pests: Tannin is a natural component of cedar, and insects and rodents hate its smell. That’s the reason why a lot of cabinets, closets, and wardrobes are made of cedar. And, if you install cedar shingles, you won’t have to worry about any of the usual problems homeowners experience with carpenter ants, rodents, and termites.
- Sound: Cedar shingles created a natural acoustic barrier, reducing outside noise.
- Style: Cedar shingles come in a variety of styles to include several different shapes you can mix and match like pointed, rounded, straight-edged, and staggered.
Cons of Installing Shingles Over Stucco
- Cost: Cedar is costly compared to other kinds of siding like vinyl. Typically, cedar costs nearly twice as much as vinyl making it an important point to consider when deciding how to cover stucco.
- Fire: Cedar is neither flame-retardant nor flame resistant. For that reason, most homeowners will treat their shingles with a flame-retardant, which will need to be reapplied every few years. Additionally, some municipalities regulate houses using cedar shingles due to their potential fire hazard.
- Maintenance: Cedar shingles are high maintenance. For example, you should power wash it annually to remove any accumulated dirt and debris. Additionally, if you stained or painted your cedar shingles, you will probably need to re-stain or paint it every couple of years, and in some climates every year.
- Rot: Although cedar resists rotting, it isn’t completely free from it. Over time as moisture increases, mold and mildew can grow, which can gradually lead to rot. For that reason, it is essential to clean and maintain its surface on an annual basis to prevent this problem from occurring.
Do You Need to Hire a Contractor?
Although you will typically save money installing shingles over your stucco walls yourself, there are a few points to consider when making a final decision.
- Timeliness: Homeowners typically underestimate the amount of time it takes to complete a job. Installing shingles takes a lot of time and patience. However, if you decide to use a contractor, most companies send out a full team of workers. Depending on the size of your home, they typically can complete the entire job in a day or two. And that includes a full cleanup after they are done.
- Safety: Installing shingles requires a lot of equipment you may not have like a tall, sturdy ladder, a roofing nailer, or a circular saw. And along those lines, safety is a significant issue, particularly when working with power tools and high up on ladders. Contractors have high-quality equipment, assume all the risk instead of you. And, they are required to be bonded or to have insurance.
- Quality: Installing shingles over stucco is likely a once-in-a-lifetime venture for you. On the other hand, contractors do that kind of work regularly, amassing decades of experience with each installation team. Additionally, warranties are standard with most contractors taking the worry out of what to do if there was a problem with an installation that isn’t immediately apparent.
How To Install Shingles Over Stucco Walls
Installing shingles over stucco can take a couple of days, depending on the size of your house. The shingle should provide triple coverage, meaning you will need three layers of shingles to cover the wall.
This process may sound complicated, but accomplishing the goal is not that difficult. All you do is calculate the exposure to be slightly less than one-third the length of the shingles measured from top to bottom.
For example, standard cedar shingles are 16 inches tall. So, you should install them with about a five-inch exposure.
An additional consideration is spacing. Shingles can swell slightly when wet, so it is sometimes recommended to install them using about an eighth of an inch gap. However, if the shingles are not completely dried out when you install them, you can skip using a gap.
You will need the following supplies to perform this task:
- Roofing nailer or hammer: The choice is yours whether to use a roofing nailer or a standard claw hammer.
- Circular saw or utility knife: An ordinary circular saw works great. If you opt to use a utility knife, you can use the same one purchased for installing the insulation.
- Nails: You will need stainless steel or galvanized roofing nails for this project.
There are four basic steps to installing shingles over stucco walls. The process should take a couple of days, depending on the size of your house.
- Begin installing the shingles at one of the bottom corners of the house. The first shingle should overlap the corner by about an inch. Using a small level, hold the first shingle against the wall and mount it using a couple of nails or staples.
- Continue mounting the bottom row of shingles using two screws or staples for each.
- Once you have completed with the first row, start the second row, offsetting the shingles from the first row, so their gaps are not even. Using our example of 16-inch shingles, mount this row, and each successive row 5 inches higher than the highest existing row. (You may need a circular saw or utility knife to trim the first and last shingles for each row.)
- Continue mounting the shingles until you reach the top of the wall, and install trim along the top and corners as desired.
The Wrap Up
This do-it-yourself project is an affordable way to change the appearance of your home if you are getting tired of the stucco look. However, keep in mind that in addition to installing the
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Giovanni Valle is an architect, designer, internet entrepreneur, and the managing editor of various digital publications including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place. He is the founder of BuilderSpace LLC.