Stucco Over Spalling Brick (Is It Acceptable?)

Spalling is when brick masonry deteriorates to the extent that chunks of bricks begin falling from the structure. It usually starts as tiny cracks on the bricks, which get bigger with time.

It’s a serious issue, and the entire structure may become unstable if not dealt with. There are many causes of spalling bricks. However, the most common culprit is when water enters the brick and goes through the freeze-and-thaw cycle.

If you have noticed spalling brick on a structure, there are several ways you can remedy this situation. For instance, some people prefer to cover the spalling brings with Stucco.

Considering how hard and durable Stucco is, it may seem like the best option to cover spalling bricks. But is this acceptable? Keep on reading to find out.


Is It a Good Idea to Use Stucco Over Spalling Brick?

Applying Stucco over the spalling brick is a terrible idea. As a finish, Stucco is designed to be applied on structurally sound surfaces.

Spalling brick comprises flaking, crumbling pieces, and some may have even popped out of the structure. Therefore, you shouldn’t cover spalling brick with Stucco. Doing so may result in stucco failure. Because some parts will come off as the bricks continue spalling.

If you want to apply Stucco over spalling bricks, you must replace the spalling bricks with new ones. And then apply the Stucco.

Does Stucco Address the Underlying Cause of Spalling Brick?

Not really. Stucco only covers the surface of the spalling bricks. And if the underlying issue is not addressed, Stucco won’t last long over spalling brick. This is also one of the many reasons why I am advising you against applying Stucco over spalling brick.

Several factors cause spalling in bricks. If you live in an area that experiences a lot of rain, humidity, or snow, your bricks will undergo a lot of stress due to freezing and thawing.

To make matters worse, if the mortar installed on the bricks was poorly compressed, there won’t be enough room for expansion which often leads to cracking and deterioration.

If the brick walls are sandblasted, or pressure washed, they may experience spalling. Low-quality bricks also spall much faster than high-quality ones.

Now Stucco is a highly porous material. It is made of Portland cement, lime, sand, and water. It can’t solve any of the above causes of spalling brick.

So, when you cover your spalling bricks with Stucco, they will continue to deteriorate on the inside and eventually pop out with some pieces of Stucco.

Don’t be misled into thinking that Stucco will address the underlying cause of spalling or even prevent it.

White stucco texture

How to Apply Stucco Over Spalling Brick?

If you are interested in applying Stucco over spalling brick, here is a professional guide on how to correctly perform this project.

Step 1 – Identify the Underlying Cause

Even before you can buy some stucco, look for what’s causing the spalling. Since the biggest culprit is often moisture damage, identify cracks where moisture passes through.

If the cause is low-quality bricks, you will have a difficult decision to make because the best solution here is to replace the entire brick structure. But as for other causes, you can proceed to step 2.

Step 2 – Remove Affected Bricks

With the help of a chisel and hammer, remove the spalling bricks. Since most brick masonry was installed years ago, they should fall off pretty easily.

If they are stubborn, you can always use a masonry cutting wheel or a power drill. This step is crucial, and you must ensure you remove all damaged bricks, as they will affect the lifespan of your Stucco.

Step 3 – Clean the Open Spaces and Install New Bricks

On the spaces left behind, clean them with a wire brush and install new bricks. Go for high-quality bricks and use adequate amounts of mortar to leave room for expansion when the weather gets cold or hot.

Step 4 – Apply a Concrete Bonding and Sealing Agent

Using a roller or brush, apply a concrete sealing and bonding agent. This product will do two jobs. First, it will promote better adhesion between the Stucco and the bricks. Secondly, it will seal the bricks.

Step 5 – Bring Out the Stucco

This is the final step. Bring out the Stucco and mix it according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Apply the first coat of Stucco to the repaired spalling brick using a trowel.

The first coat is often known as a scratch coat. It should be textured using a plasterer’s rake and allowed to cure for two to three days.

You can follow up with a second coat. The thickness should be the same, which should be around ¼ inch. Let it cure.

But it’s a good idea to keep the Stucco moist during the first week. This ensures it dries slowly and doesn’t crack or fail.

There you have it. You will have successfully applied Stucco to a repaired spalling brick structure.

How Long Does Stucco Last Over Spalling Brick?

On spalling brick, Stucco won’t last for very long. It will probably come off within a few weeks or months, depending on how deteriorated the bricks are. If your bricks are popping out of the walls, the Stucco won’t last more than a month.

However, if you repair the spalling, Stucco can last over brick for more than a decade. The spalling can significantly lower the lifespan of Stucco.

What are the Benefits of Applying Stucco Over Spalling Brick?

The only reason people apply Stucco over the spalling brick is for cosmetic purposes. Stucco is a durable yet cost-effective finish. It can be used both on the interior and exterior of a property.

It is fire-resistant, and you can get it in various color options. In case you have grown tired of the brick finish, you can cover it with some stucco.

However, to emphasize what we have discussed in this article, Stucco shouldn’t be applied over spalling brick. Fix the spalling and then proceed to lay Stucco.

What is the Average Cost of Installing Stucco Over Spalling Brick?

Many property owners prefer installing Stucco because it is one of the most inexpensive finishes in the market. However, will it still be affordable when being applied over spalling brick?

To come up with a more accurate figure, let’s list some of the costs you will incur. First, you will need to buy Stucco. An 80-bag costs around $20.

In this case, you will need to replace the spalling bricks. Therefore, the cost will go up a little bit higher. This will depend on how many bricks need to be replaced.

You will also have to buy mortar, and if you are not a DIY enthusiast, you have to hire an expert contractor.

The cost of installing Stucco over spalling brick will be high due to the additional cost of replacing bricks. It can be around $10 per square foot.

Do You Need to Seal Spalling Brick Before Applying Stucco?

Sealing brick is very important, especially if you live in an area that experiences a lot of rainfall. Even though some sealants can darken brick, they usually lower the risks of water damage.

Sealing should be done on bricks that are in perfect shape. If yours are spalling, replace them first, seal them, and apply Stucco.

Do Expert Builders Recommend Application of Stucco Over Spalling Brick?

When you hire an expert builder to stucco your home, they will not accept applying it over spalling brick. That’s because the Stucco won’t last for very long.

Unless you are dealing with an amateur contractor, no expert will recommend the direct application of Stucco over spalling brick.

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