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.
Choosing a Color
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.
To repair and paint stucco, an expert in Home Depot’s paint department steered Michelle toward the right supplies, including:
- Silicone caulk (such as Elastomeric Custom Patch Smooth; $3.77 for a 10.1-ounce tube)
- A caulk gun (such as a Dripless Caulk Gun for a 10-ounce tube; Michelle’s was $6.57)
- Paint roller, brush, and tray (Michelle got a six-piece Best Microfiber Tray Kit; $13.64)
- A scraper (Michelle’s is a three-inch Stiff Handle Wall Scraper by HDX; $7.97)
- Paint stirrers (free with purchase of paint)
How to Paint Stucco
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).