Should Stucco Touch The Ground?

If you’re installing stucco for your house, you may be wondering if stucco should touch the ground. We’ve researched this topic thoroughly and have some important installation, maintenance, and design tips for you. 

When installing stucco, you should ensure that it never touches the ground, or in other words, is below-grade. There needs to be a minimum of two inches of space between the concrete and the stucco for houses that rest on concrete foundations. There needs to be a minimum of four inches of space between the soil and the stucco for houses that rest on soil, but six to eight inches of space is recommended. 

These installation requirements for stucco may be intimidating, but stucco can significantly harm houses if it isn’t installed properly. This is why we elaborate on the problems that below-grade stucco can cause in this post! Keep reading to learn about what causes stucco to crumble, how to know if stucco is bad, how long stucco lasts, and if painting stucco is a bad idea. 

A huge mansion with gorgeous stucco exterior cladding and a white driveway, Should Stucco Touch The Ground?

What Causes Stucco To Crumble? 

Stucco crumbles when water seeps through its exterior coating. Water can enter the exterior coating if there are cracks in the stucco or enter the exterior coating through the ground if the stucco is below-grade. When water breaks through the stucco, it causes trapped moisture, leading to the stucco crumbling. Other factors that can make stucco crumble include the age of stucco, building settling, and pests. 

You can lessen the probability of your stucco crumbling by ensuring that the stucco is installed above the ground or above-grade, as this will prevent groundwater from entering the stucco and causing trapped moisture. 

How Do You Know If Stucco Is Bad? 

A huge two storey apartment type house with brown stucco exterior

Have you ever looked at your stucco and seen cracks? Well, stucco cracks are a sign that stucco is bad. At first glance, a crack in your stucco may not seem like that big of a deal, and in some cases, it isn’t! A small stucco crack usually doesn’t cause significant issues, but cracks exceeding a fourth of an inch in width can signal much bigger problems. These problems include structural issues, such as house settling or water damage. 

Soft spots, stucco stains, stucco moss, and the aforementioned stucco crumbles also signal that stucco is bad. Like stucco cracks, soft spots, stains, and moss are also signs of water damage. In addition, impact damage, which can include anything from damage caused by lawnmowers to damage caused by birds, also indicates bad stucco. 

Some of these bad signs, such as stucco cracks and stains, can be mistaken for appearance issues when they are actually structural issues. If your stucco is exhibiting any of these bad signs, it’s a good idea to inspect it to determine if these signs indicate structural problems. 

How Long Does Stucco Last? 

On average, stucco lasts for 50 to 80 years. This lifespan makes stucco one of the most long-lasting finish materials there is! However, even though stucco lasts for several decades, it is crucial to check your stucco every year to ensure no cracks or holes, as these can lead to significant damage for your home. 

If you are considering exterior options for your home, check out "Stucco Vs Siding – What You Need To Know."

Is Painting Stucco A Bad Idea? 

Painting stucco is definitely not the best idea. One reason why painting stucco is a bad idea is that stucco eagerly soaks up any type of moisture, meaning that when you apply paint to stucco, it absorbs the paint. This means that you will need to paint the stucco multiple times to completely cover its surface, which calls for a lot of paint and a lot of your time!

Another major reason why you shouldn’t paint your stucco is that stucco can trap the moisture that it absorbs from paint. This trapped moisture can cause the paint to peel, and peeling paint doesn’t give a home the most beautiful appearance. Because of the peeling, the home will need to be repainted every few years. 

Even worse than an appearance issue, the trapped moisture in the painted stucco can cause wood beneath stucco to rot. The rotting wood can lead to the growth of harmful mold. Ridding your home of this mold is a hassle, as the only way to remove it is to completely tear down and rebuild the areas that the mold has affected. 

What can you do instead of painting your stucco home? One thing you can do is simply leave your stucco as is. Stucco comes in neutral tones such as white and gray and earth tones such as tan. If you like these tones, you don’t have to worry about painting your stucco! 

A detailed photo of a cracked exterior of a house

However, if you want to change your stucco color, you can add concrete pigments to the Portland cement, which is the primary ingredient used to make stucco. The concrete pigments evenly coat the cement and give it color. You can also alter the color of stucco by using a penetrating masonry stain, which differs from paint in that it won’t peel from the stucco. 

Exterior of a huge mansion with stucco exterior and palm tress outside the lawn

If you have your heart set on using paint, some specific paints can lessen the damage done to your stucco. For example, some acrylic latex paints and elastomeric paints are designed to resist peeling, so if you apply these to stucco, they are likely to minimize the paint peeling issue. Also, elastomeric paints are good for evenly coating every inch of the stucco. 

Have a look at "What Color Stucco Goes With Black Roof? [5 Excellent Options Explored!]" for some exterior design inspiration!

Have Fun Designing and Maintaining Your Stucco Home!

Though stucco does require a fair amount of maintenance, it is a beautiful material that can last for decades if maintained properly. If you’re installing stucco, make sure that it doesn’t touch the ground, as that increases the damage your stucco will endure, such as stucco cracks and crumbles. Also, remember, it’s not the best idea to paint stucco unless you’re using acrylic latex paint or elastomeric paint. 

Remember our installation, maintenance, and design tips, and you’re sure to have a beautiful home for years to come! 


  1. Absolutely! Users must make sure that the stucco they place is never below grade, or touches the ground. For homes with concrete foundations, there must be a minimum of two inches between the concrete and the stucco. For homes that rest on soil, there must be at least four inches between the dirt and the stucco, but six to eight inches is preferred.

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