When you think about stucco there are many ways to categorize it: functionality, installation, durability, patching etc. The reason for cement stucco is really how it looks on the outside of our structures. As a society, we start with function and move to esthetics. We started with packing mud over a straw to keep the weather out and now we are using different size aggregates, materials and pigments to make our buildings more beautiful.
Weston Stucco is introducing a brand new color chart this year and it coincides with their 19th anniversary. Their extensive and capable merchandising department has been scouring the globe to access the newest trends and colors. In years past Weston Stucco has used their clientele of capable color coordinators that worked for local building developers and home builders’. This year, however, they took a more cosmopolitan approach and studied trends that were coming out of the largest fashion markets. It is very important to stay abreast of trends in design and color. The color chart like paint fan decks is used extensively in architectural offices and design centers to begin the process of choosing colors for our most popular buildings and homes. Here in the capital of “glitz and glamour” it is not uncommon for Weston Stucco and Vero’s marketing departments to help choose color for well know stars and celebrities such as, Jennifer Anniston, Dennis Rodman, Sly Stallone, just to name a few.
We have discussed before how natural products make us feel more comfortable. It is logical that materials and colors that are found in nature would be the colors we choose to lower stress in our living and work spaces. Over time, with trends in fashion and advertising and the need to change, colors do tend to ebb and flow in terms of popularity. However, earth tones tend to stay at the forefront as we see them in nature every day. Just think about the last time you went to a park or out in the forest. How many different greens did you see? There is an infinite variety of hues and textures to look at. This is why we can stay with natural color tones and never run out of variation. As for man-made trends, we are ever looking for things that excite and deliver“newness” to our homes, neighborhoods, and workplaces. Through fashion, these are ever evolving. Fashion is a big contributor to interior and exterior color design. Some colors may take on a more important role in certain climate locations, such as reds are more popular in colder climates and blues are more popular in warmer climates. Overall, neutral tones can compliment any design, and, therefore, are used in any location. In the 1980’s pastels were very popular in stucco. The color charts were full of light yellows pinks and beiges. If you look at those charts now they are terribly dated! But just think about a picture of yourself from the 80’s, See the mullet and clothes it’s laughable! This is what makes it so much fun though. In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s it was all about “Tuscan”, and “Mediterranean”. It was not uncommon to hear the owner ask that the house “look 200 years old “when it was completed. They did a lot with “distressed” wood timbers and exposed beams, ancient looking balustrades’ and portecocheres. Now the look is contemporary. Spaces are large and simple without clutter. Exteriors are going to a clean monolithic appearance with natural cement colors. In commercial interior spaces, some have exposed HVAC systems and real or replicated poured in place walls. Weston Stucco has had a huge resurgence in an old product called Super Stucco Finish This material was originally used in locker rooms, industrial kitchens and large areas that had moisture much of the time. This material was applied over a brown coat as exterior smooth Santa Barbara Finish and then painted. Now calls come in from all over the world looking for a natural cement product for showers in high-end luxury lofts like in downtown New York, Los Angeles, and other urban areas.
Ten years ago the market was flooded with real and knock off “Venetian Plasters”. Now the contemporary market is using lime and resin to achieve that natural “clean look”. Weston Stucco is an importer of real Dolomitic Lime from Trieste Italy. When the demand for aged buildings lessened it was difficult to make the design community aware of the fact that lime is perfectly suited for contemporary designs. The resin plasters are beautiful, shiny and really can add flavor and excitement to walls and ceilings. The industrial look has become very popular and many architectural firms have this beautiful “minimalized” interior space
Toronto Fashion Week is held each spring showcasing its colors for the next year’s color palette. This influences everything from clothing styles and colors to paint fan decks and building facades.
Weston Stucco has always been the leader in choosing new and exciting colors on color charts and designers are used to working with a company that is as discriminating as they are.
So here is to 50 years of service and thousands of colors in the Weston Stucco database! Now we have Vero Italian Finishes that is building a repertoire of great color for lime and resin. Vero has even started carrying Modern Masters for metallic’s and pearlescent additives. Don’t forget to preview the new colors of the Weston Stucco Web-site: www.westonstucco.com
Many people are confused by what the difference is between real cement based stucco and synthetic stucco. In the 1970’s we started hearing about stucco that didn’t crack and had more color consistency than the stucco we were using. Then the word EIFS (Exterior Insulation Finish System) was thrown around and the confusion really started. EIFS is for energy efficiency using foam boards or other products to achieve better insulation values and is a whole other discussion. Much can be learned online regarding EIFS Systems. One of the problems is that we have so many names for synthetic stucco such as; Acrylic Stucco, Synthetic Stucco, Plaster Finish, and manufacturer names such as; MX Acrylic, Dryvit, Sto, Synergy, Thoro etc. Here is the difference:
Synthetic Stucco is made from acrylic resins and is very similar to paint. They have an aggregate added to replicate the look of stucco without some of the inherent problems of real cement stucco. Different size sands are used to achieve different finishes as traditional stucco uses different size aggregates. Once on the wall it would be difficult for anyone to tell the difference between Acrylic Stucco and a painted cement stucco wall. The key here is painted. It is fairly easy to tell the difference between real and synthetic, if not painted. Even though, the products are supposed to be similar when they are installed they are worlds apart in physical makeup and functionality. Real Stucco uses natural materials and is cement and lime based. Synthetic stucco is the acrylic resin based using no cement or lime. The similarity is the sand or aggregate used. The functional aspect is also important. Synthetic stucco stops water from coming into the wall and are either characterized as waterproof or at least water-resistant. Cement Stucco typically dries hard enough to keep water out, but the idea is not to necessarily keep water out of the stucco. More importantly it can penetrate the stucco and then naturally wick out and dry by being highly vapor permeable. Synthetic Stucco can keep and hold moisture if it can find a way in. This is usually through the windows, doors, or roof lines. Because of water related issues the manufacturers have tried to use co-polymer resins that have more vapor permeability than earlier synthetic stuccoes. Cement Stucco is very rigid and is susceptible to cracking. This has been by far the number one problem associated with stucco. Cracks are caused by many variables all related to movement and can be read about in earlier Blogs or online. Stucco also tends to dry differentially by how long the moisture stays on the wall. Cement Stucco typically is darker if it dries slowly and lighter if it dries quickly. In hot, dry, or windy conditions the entire building can be lighter in color than intended; conversely in cloudy, moist, or wet conditions the entire building can be darker than intended. In addition, walls can dry differently just based on shading. The north side of the house can dry darker than the south side. Even shading from the plank, trees, or other structures can telegraph on to a wall and cause discoloration. Synthetic Stucco was introduced to solve these problems and for the most part they did. Since Synthetic Stucco is a lot like paint it dries more evenly. Because of the nature of the resin it moves more than cement stucco and is not as susceptible to cracking. Keep in mind nowhere did I say “solve or eliminate” the problems. Problems and their manifestation are all a result of degrees - how much movement, how much water intrusion. The other question was of course cost. A Price was always the motivation of using traditional cement stucco. It is relatively inexpensive. Synthetic Stucco changed that and made the cost significantly higher. Still, when stacked up against other claddings, both these materials are still very affordable. So let’s go through and recap these products:
Synthetic Stucco Toronto
1. Made of Copolymer Resin
2. Uses sand or another aggregate to achieve the look of Cement Stucco
3. Resistant to water
4. Crack resistant
6. Comes wet in pails
7. Spread with an acrylic trowel
8. More appropriate for dark colors
9. Able to have smooth to very heavy textures
10. More expensive than cement stucco
11. Can be used over brown coat or in EIFS (Exterior Insulation Finish System)
Traditional Cement Stucco Toronto
1. Made of Cement and Lime
2. Uses different size sand to achieve different finishes
3. Highly vapor permeable
4. Comes dry in bags
5. Spread with steel trowels and float
6. More of a “natural look”
7. Less expensive
As you can see there are more differences than first meet the eye when making a decision which product to use. Cost is a factor and how the materials function and ultimately look are certainly things that need to be addressed. Do your research, look at the budget, and make the right decision based on your design needs and expectations of all involved.
WESTON STUCCO NOMINATED FOR MOST SUSTAINABLE EXTERIOR FINISH ON GREEN THINKER NETWORK
There are many sealers on the market. Most are to protect the surface from water or moisture intrusion. There are sealers that are designed to enhance the beauty of the surface or add gloss or a “wet look”. Sealers can be categorized as surface or penetrating. Surface sealers are usually silicone based and last from as little as a few months to a few years. The reason is that silicone is a larger molecule and, therefore, sits closer to the surface. Since UV light is what attacks these sealers then the larger molecule silicones will break down first. Penetrating sealers are usually silane and or siloxane based. This is a smaller molecule and, therefore, penetrates further into the surface before forming the hydrophobic barrier. Silicones are usually less expensive than silanes so how long you want the sealer to last is the important question. The substrate is the next most important variable. How porous is the material? This will determine how deep a penetrating sealer will go. This is a two-edged sword, the material will last longer as it penetrates deeper, but it won’t seal the surface from staining. The primary function of a good penetrating sealer is to keep moisture out of the wall cavity. This is where the water can do the most damage. It can find a way into our homes damaging drywall and carpet but what we don’t see is usually worse. Degradation of wood framing, damaging electrical outlets and shorts and growing of molds are just a few examples of damage water can do as it enters the wall space. We must be aware, however; that penetrants are just that, they will not protect the surface from staining unless built up to the surface with subsequent coats. The proper way to put on penetrating sealers is to make sure that new concrete, masonry or stucco is cured and “thirsty” enough to accept the chemical. Since the chemical is now carried by water this is pretty easy to test. The literature usually says to wait the initial 28 day cure period before application. The problem with this is that your wall can get badly stained in 28 days. My advice is to gauge the weather against how dry or “thirsty” your substrate is and then make your own decision as to when to apply the sealer. These sealers need to form a barrier so there needs to be enough material put on to make that barrier. This usually means we put on a “flood coat” and then brush off any excess material. From a chemical engineering perspective, the exact proper way is to apply a very light “fog coat” of material to “open the capillaries” of the wall. Then come back immediately and flood the surface to ensure the wall accepts as much material as possible. Most often people just use a pump up “bug sprayer” and fill the wall with the material until it runs and then back roll or brush off the excess. There is a very important caveat here though, when it is hot dry or windy and when doing flat surfaces it is critical to get the right amount of sealer on. If there is too much material and the substrate cannot accept the chemical and it will be deposited on the surface. This will result in a residual sticky material left on the surface to catch dirt, leaves, footprints or whatever blows by. So try to do the job in the morning before the sun is too hot and don’t use these seallers when it is windy for this reason and you won’t get an even application. If you find that there is residual material left on any surface you can cut it off with a solvent. Paint thinner or any other solvent can be put on a rag and cut the material off the surface. Don’t worry, the rest of the material will still be on the wall as long as you don’t let the solvent penetrate. Just use it to wipe off the excess chemical without having it drip off the rag. It will evaporate very quickly and be gone leaving your sealer intact. Remember to cover all windows and frames as these penetrants can etch glass. Please read all the safety instructions before use. Think about the material you are putting the sealer on. Is it a flashed brick with very little suction? Then the material will go in very slowly or not at all. Very porous products like a Concrete Masonry Unit (concrete block) are very porous and will, therefore, use a lot of products. Weston Stucco makes a penetrating sealer call Micro-Seal II that is less expensive than any other penetrating sealers I have found. It is a great product and is warranted for 10 years! The literature will show how much sealer will cover different materials. Logic dictates that the more “open” the surface the more material will go in and the further it will go in. The less “open” the substrate the less the material will go in and will, therefore, go further in terms of coverage. You can use these products on brick, block, stone, concrete, stucco or any other cementitious substrate. I have found over the years that silicones are used because people don’t know about silanes. Why would you use a sealer that will last 3 years at best when you can use penetrants lasting 10 years? The price difference is not that much. I guess if it is the model complex of homes or a case where a year of protection is fine then the less expensive silicone will fill the bill. I talk mostly to homeowners that are doing their own homes and want maximum protection for the longest period. Go with a good penetrating sealer and take all the precautions talked about here and you will protect your surfaces without having to reapply every few years.
Used to be homebuilders found buyers who wanted the new-car smell of a new home with community parks and the ability to customize features, like an inlaw suite or home office or granite countertops. Today’s homebuilder has more advantages over existing housing stock than ever before, as I learned from a seminar I attended of the American Society of Building Designers.
We have reached the tipping point where existing homes should not be able to compete with a new home. Think of all these features possible with new homes that existing homes can’t touch:
· No gas and electric bills (Zero Net Energy)
· Luxurious comfort from even heat distribution, elimination of harmful chemicals
· Proper site orientation and shading to allow sunlight in where and when it’s needed
· Open floor plans
· No moisture problems from a new, well-designed building envelope
· Community amenities made famous by The Irvine Company, such as parks, pools, and new schools
· Pleasing planned communities with open spaces, designed to encourage social interaction
· Home automation for the technophile buyers
Existing homes may have a few advantages of their own – locations closer in to jobs and fire-sale prices for the moment. But as Huseyin Alanci demonstrated in his passionate blueprint for the building industry, the ownership cost of a new home, after taking into account reduced utility bills and maintenance expenses, is surely lower than that of even a short-sold existing home. Sam is head of the U.S. EPA’s energy efficiency program called Energy Star for Homes, and has contributed to USGBC, NAHB, and DoE programs with energy efficiency goals. Sam made an impassioned case for the homebuilding industry to seize the moment, elevate their craft, and permanently leave existing housing stock in the dust.
There is much work to be done. Many homebuilders are still focused largely on getting low bids and trying to sell directly against these distressed existing homes. As a result, there is pressure on subcontractors not to innovate, but to focus mainly on keeping costs low. And material manufacturers feel that pressure as tight margins, commoditization of our products, and more tough times ahead.
But there are good signs if you look hard enough. Several major homebuilders in the Greater Toronto area (Mississauga, Woodbridge, ON) are using continuous insulation stucco systems Toronto on all their projects, and highlighting that feature in selling their homes. Of course, these “one coat stucco” systems have been in use in other markets for decades, but Title 24 and the demand for “greener” homes have driven their adoption in Southern California in recent years. California’s Title 24 energy code ratchets up the energy efficiency mandate on homes in 2014, with additional code cycles set to take effect in 2017 and 2020. By 2020, California’s Title 24 will likely mandate Zero Net Energy home performance. Forward-thinking homebuilders will get there sooner and establish their brands as synonymous with energy-efficiency, much as Mercedes has with car safety.
As stucco manufacturers and allied companies, the challenge for us is to provide products and technical assistance to encourage this metamorphosis of our industry. As the homebuilders go, so go our businesses. If we can help builders seize this opportunity now, when we’re at the tipping point, we can strengthen our industry, decommoditize our products, and gain some competitive advantage for our own companies.
There is always quite a stir over colors in stucco Toronto. The designers, architects and owners want the colors that will make the project sell more quickly, add appeal, match existing schemes and make an aesthetically beautiful project. The contractor warns that heavily pigmented colors are expensive, troublesome and susceptible to problems. What is the answer? It is of course complicated and pros and cons must be weighed. Let’s start with the most asked questions about stucco and color:
1. Pigments are expensive and when you get over a Kilo the price goes up? This is true. Typically manufacturers allow one pound of pigment in a sack of stucco Toronto with no extra charge. Blue and Green are the exception as they are more expensive colors. Pigment is by far the highest cost raw material in stucco Toronto by weight. When custom homes want that rich earth tone with four pounds of color it can be as much as twenty dollars extra per sack. Remember though, if we are talking about a high end custom home then the homeowner should get what they want for an exterior color. A very large custom home might use 100 sacks of stucco and even at 20 dollars this is only 2000 dollars more.
2. The contractor says he has a hard time making stucco Toronto even and consistent with heavily pigmented colors? This also is true. However keep in mind what texture is wanted. A lace texture or sand finish is very unsightly with mottled color. In this case the wall would certainly have to be fogged to even out the color. In smooth finish applications color mottling is typically required. With darker colors we see movement and character in the stucco. It becomes a benefit and part of the artistic beauty of the finish.
Toronto, ON - PP-5223
3. Are some colors so dark that fog coat cannot be produced for that color? This is a common assumption and most stucco manufacturer s have specified limits to making fog coat with over 4lbs of pigment. The reason is that fog-coat comes in a 25lb bag. If there are 5 lbs of color in the bag that constitutes 20% of the bag by weight. We cannot take that much cement and other ingredients out of the bag to accommodate this much color. Similarly, we cannot produce heavily pigmented pre-mix stucco for the same reason. We never want to put so much color in the bag that it threatens the integrity of the product. We should be able to produce fogcoat that can even out color variances using dark pigments. The solution then is to make fog-coat in base and color and let the contractor mix it in the field.
4. Are colors more “problematic” when they are dark? Yes, stucco is certainly not paint. It is not logical to expect stucco to react as paint does. Weather plays a huge part in how stucco looks and the more pigment involved the more the weather and other variables can affect color. Efflorescence is more noticeable in darker colors. It is not because there is a higher presence of salts, it is that salts are white by nature and show much more on darker walls.
5. My contractor has asked me not to use the dark color I want for my home. What should I do? It is your home and being the owner or builder you should have what you want. But… Go in with your eyes open! He doesn’t want to do it because he has experience that there are many things that can go wrong and he knows that he will be blamed for the problems. My advice is to:
a. Always do a mock-up and agree on the color before starting the job
b. Discuss mottling, efflorescence, extra cost and find the tolerances and expectations of both parties and put it in writing!
c. Discuss what to do in the event of freak storms, repairs resulting from damage by other trades and who will pay for these issues.
d. Weigh the pros and cons very carefully when choosing color.
Remember, stucco is by nature a natural product. All the raw materials are from the earth and it is almost always hand applied. This is the beauty of the product. We don’t have to re-do it every few years like paint. Stucco has an extremely long life cycle. So like any natural product or handmade material certain allowances must be made for the very nature of the product. Life is a give and take so go for that dark color on a smooth wall! Enjoy the beauty of the staining and mottling the same way you would admire your handmade antiques with all of their beautiful imperfections!take so go for that dark color on a smooth wall! Enjoy the beauty of the staining and mottling the same way you would admire your handmade antiques with all of their beautiful imperfections!
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Huseyin Alanci / Administrator