SMA Executive Director Mark Fowler was recently interviewed by online architect magazine Architizer to discuss Stucco

How to Specify: Stucco

Stucco can take any color and adapt to any shape, from flat boxes to doubly curved fantasias.

In line with our new content direction, Architizer is highlighting a different building-product and how to specify it. This week’s topic is stucco. If you’re looking for the perfect stucco for your next project, search for it on Architizer’s new network marketplace for building-products.

Stucco is a funny material. On one extreme, it’s the stuff of pure material abstraction. When finished at its smoothest and whitest, it’s the face of modernist simplicity. It’s barely there. On the other extreme, it’s intensely tactile. Rough and grainy, it calls to mind the windblasted deserts of the American Southwest. It’s physical; elemental, even. And it can be a lot of stuff in between.

Le Corbusier’s Ville Savoye has a white stucco exterior; image via Medium.

One of the major appeals of stucco is its versatility. It can take any color and adapt to any shape, from flat boxes to doubly curved fantasias.

What makes stucco a little tricky is that it is mixed and installed on-site. It’s not produced in a factory under carefully controlled settings; it’s made in the field where anything can happen, and architects have to rely on trusted contractors. Contractors will have their own preferences and experience working with various mixes and finishes that depend on local conditions and availability.

We talked to Mark Fowler, Executive Director of the Stucco Manufacturers Association (SMA), about what architects need to know when specifying stucco.

His advice was to “stay with established standards. Many architects make the mistake to add items that are either not appropriate or incompatible, which adds costs by wasting time on RFIs or worse, systems that fail.” Contractors and manufacturers can talk you through what is necessary for the specific approach you are taking.

Fowler’s advice was clear: “Listen to the pros and find someone you can trust. Stucco has more variables than almost any other assembly.”


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