Stucco Vs Siding – What You Need To Know

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Vinyl siding and stucco. The two most common siding types for homes in America. But which is better? What are the pros and cons of each? Siding experts all agree on when you’re best off with stucco and when you should pick vinyl. And, depending on which area of the country you are from, you might be surprised to realize which one is the #1 best-selling siding!

For the short summary, the points to compare in a stucco vs. siding battle are:

  • Cost – Vinyl is more affordable.
  • Durability – Stucco wins, but the weather is a factor. Stucco is better for hot, dry areas. Vinyl is ideal for damp climates.
  • Return on Investment (ROI) – Vinyl averages a bit higher, though this varies by region.
  • Aesthetics – Tie. Both come in various colors, though it’s worth noting that the texture of stucco is unique.
  • Insulation – Vinyl wins.
  • Maintenance – Tie. Vinyl is easier to fix, but stucco needs to be repaired less often.
  • Installation – Vinyl is easier and faster to install. Stucco takes about twice as long to install.

Which one is better? In the northeast and midwest, most siding experts agree that vinyl is ideal. However, in the western US, stucco makes up approximately half of all home siding. Stucco resists heat without warping, which makes it ideal for hot, dry areas. And believe it or not, stucco is the #1 most popular siding for American homes!

Keep reading to learn more about these different factors – just how much value does stucco add to a home? How long does each one last? We’ll cover everything you need to know about both stucco and vinyl siding so that you can pick the right one for your home.

Roofline showing windows, brick stones, gutter, soffit, stucco wall, Stucco Vs Siding - What You Need To Know

What Is Stucco Made Of?

Close up of stucco house roof peaks against blue sky

To begin at the beginning – stucco. What is it? Stucco is a blend of cement, sand, and lime. This creates a special plaster which is then decoratively applied as a home siding. The unique texture can be reached using a trowel, brush, or other tools to create a distinctive finish. Color can be obtained by adding pigment directly to the mix. This is a fairly permanent option that requires no extra maintenance for a long time. Stucco can also be painted, but this means that the color is surface only. With time, it will fade and need to be repainted.

Is Stucco Or Siding More Expensive?

The best, most insulated, high-end vinyl costs about the same as the lowest, cheapest stucco. Vinyl can run from approximately $5.50 to $12.50 a square foot. Cheap stucco will still cost about the same, and higher-quality stucco can run as much as $14.50 a square foot. A big part of the popularity of vinyl is that it’s a more affordable option.

New two-story tan and brown stucco home in Tucson, Arizona, USA with beautiful blue sky and landscaping.

Durability

Like anything, there’s a range of quality. However, as a general rule, one coat of stucco is 10x as thick as vinyl siding. Furthermore, stucco is often applied in more than one coat – three is most common. As a result, stucco is better equipped to last a long, long time. 

Particularly worth noting, stucco is less likely to damage or crack from hail damage. It’s simply thicker and better able to handle the impact, though large enough hail may still cause a crack. Stucco also can tolerate higher winds, taking speeds as much as 130 mph. Vinyl tops out around 110 mph.

The one time that vinyl is hardier than stucco is in damp climates. Stucco doesn’t perform well against moisture. Conversely, vinyl can buckle or warp in very hot areas.

Longevity

How Long Does Stucco Last?

While, again, a range of expected lifespans are given, stucco outlasts vinyl with no doubt. When installed correctly and in an area where there isn’t significant moisture, stucco can last up to 100 years. Most quotes indicate that 60-100 years is pretty standard, without significant maintenance. With basic cleaning and an occasional patch of a crack, stucco can survive a full century.

How Long Does Vinyl Siding Last?

When installed properly, vinyl siding averages 60 years in areas where the climate isn’t too harsh. The exact lifespan depends on a lot of variables and can be tough to pinpoint. If your home is in an area with very cold winters, hot summers, or lots of UV exposure, 20 years might be a better estimate.

Close up of a cracked and broken beige vinyl siding of a house

What Is the ROI For Vinyl Siding?

Return on Investment indicates how much you can expect to earn back on any given home improvement. For vinyl siding, the ROI averages out to 77%. However, this doesn’t mean that stucco has no benefit. Stucco has an ROI of 70%. It’s not quite as high as vinyl, but it’s pretty close. In either case, this decision probably won’t hinge just on the ROI.

Does Stucco Add Value To A Home?

There are many variables to how much value stucco can add to your home, even considering the average ROI listed above. If you live in a  moist area where stucco can be a drawback, it won’t add value. A good hint is to look at other houses in the neighborhood. If no one else has a stucco house, it probably won’t be a huge draw to buyers. On the other hand, if you live in a region where stucco homes are desirable and in use, it may add some appeal.

It’s also important that stucco be professionally, and correctly installed, and well maintained. If it’s stained, dirty, or cracked, address these issues first.

Architecture detail of damaged house corner dilapidated old building facade wall over blue sky background. Private abandoned home fall to ruin. Exterior House

Aesthetics

Which one looks better is highly subjective and depends a lot on your personal preference. However, it is worth pointing out that the texture available in a stucco home is unique. You can’t get that in vinyl siding.

Both options, though, come in a wide range of colors. Vinyl can come in different shapes and patterns, but it does always have seams that are absent in stucco.

Insulation

Vinyl comes in both insulated and uninsulated versions. The insulated vinyl is better. But in any case, vinyl always offers better insulation. R-value is a number assigned to indicate how much insulation any material offers. Even hollow, uninsulated vinyl has an R-value of roughly 0.6. Compare that to stucco – the best triple-layer of stucco will still only have an R-value of about 0.75, and a single coat may only be 0.20. 

On the other hand, a quality, insulated vinyl can be as high as 1.75. So, the best stucco is only slightly more insulated than the worst vinyl. It’s no contest in this regard. Vinyl wins.

Maintenance

Vinyl and stucco both relatively low maintenance. There isn’t much to take care of, and there aren’t many easier options. For stucco, you’ll want to keep a close watch out for any cracks and nip them in the bud. When properly installed, cracks are uncommon but can occur. Addressing this early can avoid further problems with a patch like this.

Click here to see this stucco patch on Amazon.

Vinyl is simpler to patch – just cut a small patch of excess vinyl out to cover the hole and use caulk to apply it. But, vinyl also cracks more often than stucco. It’s easy to fix, but you’ll be fixing it more often.

As far as cleaning, either material is about equally low maintenance. Do an annual clean to remove mildew or other stains. Depending on your weather and region, you may clean a little less or a little more often, but that won’t be because of which material you picked.

Installation

Vinyl is much easier to install, and even hiring pros to do it for you tends to be cheaper than stucco. It doesn’t take a lot of special skills, tools, or expertise. Anyone who is handy can manage vinyl.

Stucco, on the other hand, is not for everyone. You need an experienced professional who installs stucco regularly and is familiar. This can get expensive. Stucco also takes about twice as long to install, as it is usually three layers in all. Each layer needs to dry in between, making it a lengthy process.

In Closing

Roofline showing windows, brick stones, gutter, soffit, stucco wall, Stucco Vs Siding - What You Need To Know

There are pros and cons to both vinyl and stucco siding. The most crucial difference between the two is that vinyl does not hold up well in hot, dry climates. Conversely, stucco does not tolerate moisture well. For this reason, homes in the northeast and the midwest US generally use vinyl siding. Almost no homes in this area have stucco siding. Homes in the western US use stucco about half the time, and it’s a common, durable, long-lasting option in this region (though slightly more expensive). 

Want to learn more about stucco? Try reading:

7 Types Of Stucco Finishes

15 Stunning Stucco House Ideas

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