How to minimize cracking—and how to fix it when it occurs.

Cement shrinkage can lead to fine surface cracking in the color coat of a traditional stucco exterior. The cracks aren’t a structural or weather-resistance problem—just a visual imperfection—but it’s best to minimize them.

The best practice for applying stucco is to use a hard base coat with a high-cement content, and let that coat crack over a two-week or longer curing period. Then, apply a softer second coat and a pigmented top coat that flexes more and shrinks less.

If fine cracks appear, the best fix is not to trowel on more wet stucco; that could create a wide smear that’s as noticeable as much as the cracking (if not more). Instead, wet the crack and brush in a fine powder of the dry color-coat formula, which will react with the moisture and harden.

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