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Dryvit Vs Stucco: Differences & Common Problems

Choosing the right material for your home can sometimes take additional research. Do you want to get the stucco look inside or outside of your property, but you're stuck between Dryvit and traditional stucco? Is there a major difference between the two? Which one is better?

Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Luckily, we've done some digging and have the answers to these questions below.

The main difference between Dryvit and stucco is that Dryvit is a synthetic version of stucco. Typically, you apply Dryvit to an existing stucco system, such as EIFS, to keep water from penetrating your surface.

On the other hand, stucco is a cement-based siding that adds a textured finish to a wall. So, although you use both on top of another material, they're a bit different.

As we start this post, we will cover all things Dryvit and stucco and discuss their differences and common problems. Whether you love the look of stucco, need to waterproof an existing wall/surface, or have other questions: we're here to lend a hand. With that said, let's dive in!

collab photo of a dryvit and a stucco differences and comon problems, Dryvit Vs Stucco: Differences & Common Problems

What Is The Difference Between Dryvit And Stucco?

One of the main differences between Dryvit and stucco is their material. As we said above, traditional stucco is made using cement, while Dryvit is a synthetic material created to mimic stucco's appearance.

On top of that, Dryvit is more of a waterproofing agent for existing stucco surfaces, hence its name. So, you can expect classic stucco to be hardier between the two.

In addition, Dryvit often works well for exterior siding or near water, as it helps keep moisture away from the material underneath. So, if you have existing stucco but need a new, water-resistant coat: Dryvit could be the perfect solution.

It's also worth noting that Dryvit is essentially a faux stucco, so it is a bit cheaper. Generally, faux siding and materials will cost less than heavier, more durable ones, although this can lead to issues later.

We'll dive into these issues later in this post.

stucco on building wall unidentifiable contractor

Which Is Better: Stucco Or Dryvit?

Overall, we would say stucco beats Dryvit in terms of quality. Since stucco is cement-based, it tends to hold out against the elements much better than synthetic Dryvit.

However, many professionals claim these two materials are about as difficult to repair, so, in that way, they both fall short. Especially for outdoor stucco surfaces, cracking can become a severe problem.

You also want to remember that pure stucco can be used alone. Dryvit cannot. Typically you will use Dryvit on an existing/aging stucco surface to waterproof it.

Furthermore, many homeowners use Dryvit as an external insulation finishing system. So, the way these two materials are used differs quite a bit.

We recommend stucco if you want a one-and-done solution to your siding or exterior design.

Is Dryvit The Same As Stucco?

No. Although the two resemble each other, Dryvit is synthetic, while stucco is real. As we covered above, Dryvit works to coat an existing stucco surface, while traditional, cement-based stucco is fine on its own.

On top of that, Dryvit won't be as durable as classic stucco. For example, you can't apply it on its own to the exterior of your house, but instead, use a sturdy base and then cover it with your Dryvit product.

According to experts, Dryvit and other synthetic stuccos are easier to damage than good cement stucco. 

However, using Dryvit over an aging stucco surface can prevent moisture from making its way inside. So, this isn't a useless product by any means and makes for a great preserving agent.

It's also important to realize that stucco has been around since 1824, whereas Dryvit was introduced in 1969. So, the brand may be able to improve Dryvit's quality eventually, but for now, we recommend applying traditional stucco to your home.

plasterer loading new plaster bucket using

What Are Some Common Problems With Dryvit?

For those interested in using Dryvit, there are a few common issues to consider first. Generally, Dryvit fails to hold out long-term, often leading to caulking and sealing issues.

Since you likely will use Dryvit as a waterproofing agent for your home, that can become serious over time. If your Dryvit doesn't maintain quality, water could leak into your home.

According to Bob's Finish, Dryvit also sometimes causes water to accumulate inside the wall cavity. That can lead to mold and mildew, as well as infestations.

Compared to stucco, these problems are more frequent and common with Dryvit, which raises concern.

If you can't depend on the synthetic formula to keep your property safe: it could be time to switch to the original stucco material. Even if something looks better on paper, that's not always true long-term.

What Are Some Common Problems With Stucco?

male builder work overalls plastering wall

Now that you know what issues are common with Dryvit, it's time to focus on traditional stucco. Usually, stucco is prone to cracking and discoloring as it ages, which can be challenging to repair.

In addition, the cracks in stucco will expand as the weather changes, often leading to water damage. Since stucco typically goes outside, having large cracks inviting moisture into your home can become unsafe and cost a pretty penny to remedy.

According to MHX Designs, poorly installed/made stucco can trap water and moisture, leading to mold, rotting, cracking, and crumbling.

Like Dryvit, that can have serious consequences for those inside the house, as mold is incredibly harmful to your lungs.

You also want to be careful with installing stucco as if it's done wrong; this can actually cause it to absorb higher levels of water from the ground. So you could be creating a water/moisture-filled monster if you choose a subpar contractor or product.

How Can I Tell Something Is Wrong With My Stucco?

One of the easiest ways to tell if your stucco has a problem is by inspecting it. As we said, stucco with cracks and stains typically indicates something more serious below.

According to pros, here are some key indicators to watch for:

  • Heavy staining
  • Thin/hairline cracks
  • Long cracking
  • Bulges in your stucco
  • Missing sections of stucco

So, the best way to figure this out would be to start with the overall appearance of your stucco. If something looks off, there's a possibility of further damage inside the wall or surface.

On top of that, you may even notice water damage inside your home where the stucco is cracked or deteriorating, which means expensive, invasive repairs are on the horizon.

Luckily, well-made stucco shouldn't crack or have problems for decades, so make sure to find a high-quality product. Again, even if something is more expensive, that could mean less maintenance long-term.

How Long Will Dryvit Last?

When it comes to the lifespan of Dryvit, this should be quite some time. According to the company, Dryvit should last as long as the building/surface it's on does.

Specifically, the brand claims Dryvit EIFS are designed to last for the typical design life of a building. So, that could mean 10-20 years for some designs and much less for others.

As we covered earlier, Dryvit is a top coating for existing stucco. Therefore, if the stucco beneath starts to degrade, your Dryvit may follow suit.

Furthermore, Dryvit isn't a solution to damaged stucco, as it can only prevent so much moisture from seeping into your home's interior. One mistake homeowners make with Dryvit is using it as a bandage for more severe structural problems.

Doing this can result in a shorter lifespan for your Dryvit and additional repair costs.

How Often Do You Need To Repair Dryvit?

You shouldn't need to make repairs to Dryvit once you apply it. As we mentioned above, Dryvit promises to match the lifespan of the design it's on, so this is typically an extended period.

With that said, depending on the conditions, your Dryvit could fade or develop minor imperfections. For example, since Dryvit is a synthetic material, it's possible to see chips, cracking, and discoloration over the years.

If this occurs, we recommend reaching out to the brand and seeing what they can do to remedy the situation. According to their website, Dryvit will cover its products for different periods depending on your purchase.

For example, with the 'Infinity® PE System,' you can expect Dryvit to cover your material for 12 years. Additionally, the 'Outsulation® MD System®' line is also covered for 12 years from the date of purchase, which might come in handy.

From what we found, Dryvit typically covers their synthetic stucco for 10-12 years, so regardless of what you go with: there should be a decade of warranty coverage.

How Long Does Stucco Typically Last?

plasterer loading new plaster bucket using

Since stucco is incredibly durable, you shouldn't need to replace it for 50-80 years on average. With that said, you might need to make minor repairs or repaint stucco every decade or so.

Remember, outdoor materials have to withstand every season and weather pattern throughout the year. You might be looking at more frequent stucco maintenance if you are somewhere with extreme summers, winters, or moisture.

Of course, your stucco will stay beautiful longer versus Dryvit and shouldn't run into major structural problems if applied and made correctly.

To Wrap Up

collab photo of a dryvit and a stucco differences and common problems

Whether you have stucco or want to apply it to your home, you've likely also thought of using Dryvit. From what we found, Dryvit and stucco might look similar: but the differences outweigh that heavily.

Between them, traditional stucco is more durable and won't run into moisture problems long-term. Additionally, Dryvit is meant to cover existing stucco and work as a waterproofing agent, so it can't be used independently.

So, if you want something more reliable and a one-stop solution to your design needs, we recommend stucco over Dryvit.

Made it this far? Check out these helpful related home posts below!

How To Screw Into Stucco [Inc. Best Screws, Anchors, & Tips For Success]

Stucco Vs. Siding - What You Need To Know

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