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Curb Appeal: A Paint Makeover for a Stucco House, California Edition

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Curb Appeal: A Paint Makeover for a Stucco House, California Edition

September 18, 2018

Gardenista editor in chief Michelle Slatalla’s house has been begging for a paint job ever since the holiday season a few years back, when she used dabs of silicone to attach twinkly lights to the facade. (When the strings of lights came down, so did chips of paint.)

Back-t0-school season is a great time to tackle a project that adds curb appeal. And since nothing perks up a house like new paint, Michelle decided to refresh the pockmarked facade that faces the street. (The paint on the rest of the exterior was still in good shape, so all she had to do was find a color match.) Behr’s exterior paint palette at the Home Depot offers hundreds of colors. After bringing home eight swatches to hold up against the house, she settled on Behr’s Off White (formulated specially for use on stucco, masonry, and brick).

Painting stucco isn’t any trickier than painting other exterior surfaces, but it does require careful preparation. Here’s a step-by-step look at the process.

Photography by Leslie Santarina.

After a paint job, stucco walls look bright and inviting.
Above: After a paint job, stucco walls look bright and inviting.

Before

Over the years, a few cracks had appeared in the surface of the stucco.
Above: Over the years, a few cracks had appeared in the surface of the stucco.
Dabs of silicone left behind telltale blemishes on the stucco. You can see where the holiday lights were affixed to the facade above the arch.
Above: Dabs of silicone left behind telltale blemishes on the stucco. You can see where the holiday lights were affixed to the facade above the arch.
Complicating matters slightly, Michelle has a wire trellis that supports her flowering wisteria. To avoid disturbing (or breaking) the vines, the painters decided to use a small paintbrush around and under the trellis and the foliage.
Above: Complicating matters slightly, Michelle has a wire trellis that supports her flowering wisteria. To avoid disturbing (or breaking) the vines, the painters decided to use a small paintbrush around and under the trellis and the foliage.

Choosing a Color

At her local Home Depot, Michelle found eight shades of off-white and beige paint that looked like promising matches. To choose, she brought home swatches and held them up against the stucco at different times of day because as the light changes, so can paint color. The winner: Behr&#8
Above: At her local Home Depot, Michelle found eight shades of off-white and beige paint that looked like promising matches. To choose, she brought home swatches and held them up against the stucco at different times of day because as the light changes, so can paint color. The winner: Behr’s Off White, formulated for use on both interior and exterior masonry, stucco, or brick.

For Michelle’s facade in northern California, where the weather is mild and the stucco was in generally good shape, the professional painters recommended using Off White, formulated for use on both interior and exterior masonry, stucco, or brick. Behr also makes a line of Elastomeric Masonry, Stucco and Brick exterior-only paint in a range of colors (including Off White), recommended for use to bridge hairline cracks on vertical masonry surfaces and to combat mildew problems.

Supplies

In the paint department at Home Depot, Michelle found supplies including a scraper, caulk, and a caulk gun, paint brushes, rollers, and pans.
Above: In the paint department at Home Depot, Michelle found supplies including a scraper, caulk, and a caulk gun, paint brushes, rollers, and pans.

To repair and paint stucco, an expert in Home Depot’s paint department steered Michelle toward the right supplies, including:

How to Paint Stucco

For a smooth finish, use a paint roller.
Above: For a smooth finish, use a paint roller.

Preparation is key when repainting a stucco surface. First, identify any chips, paint cracks, mildew, or other spots that need attention. You can get rid of mildew with chlorine bleach and then use a hose or (if especially dirty) a power-washer to clean the surface you want to paint.

Caulk and patch any cracks in the stucco and any places where stucco meets trim: around window frames and doorways, for instance. Follow the caulk’s instructions and be sure to let the repairs dry for a minimum of 24 hours.

To paint stucco, professional painters may use a sprayer. This technique requires two painters, because the sprayed surface needs to be rolled before it dries. At Michelle’s one-story house, the painters used hand rollers for a smooth surface (and a smaller paint brush where necessary to avoid disturbing the wisteria vine).

After

A newly painted facade looks clean and fresh, reflecting the morning sun.
Above: A newly painted facade looks clean and fresh, reflecting the morning sun.

Above: Before and after, Michelle’s front steps.

The fresh paint will look good for years—so long as Michelle can resist attaching holiday lights to the stucco.
Above: The fresh paint will look good for years—so long as Michelle can resist attaching holiday lights to the stucco.

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