With millions of homes that need painting every year, wouldn’t it be nice to hear from the experts about the best paint for stucco?
Painting contractors can tell us, for example, what paints cover the best. However, typically they are not visiting their work three, five, or eight years later.
And if a painting contractor did check up years later, by the time they did, the paint manufacturer might have changed the formula of the paint.
As a painting contractor since 1989, I can tell you I’ve painted many homes and can not remember the brand of paint I used after a year or two has passed.
I can observe the difference in coverage, workability, and finish, but I can’t conclude which one will last the longest. Therefore I think the best thing to do is to follow the science.
I talked to several people who have been in the paint manufacturing industry with both Sherwin Williams and Ben Moore. I respect their opinions and have found them to be candid.
My question was simple. “If the price was not a significant factor, what product would you use on a stucco home and why?
Their answers were mainly analytical and factual, with a few interesting stories.
Elastomeric Vs. Acrylic Masonry Paints
There are many different options for finding the best paint for stucco. I could probably find 100 paints suitable for stucco if I searched long enough. For example, Sherwin Williams has 15 different products made explicitly for masonry surfaces.
To shorten the list, I will divide the choices into three camps, namely acrylic masonry, elastomeric paint systems, and universal exterior paints.
Regardless of what paint you choose, it starts with a good power washing to remove chalkiness, mildew, and dirt.
Elastomeric paints are very flexible.
How stretchable? How about 300 – 600%!
Elastomeric is like rubber in a paint can.
It is a waterproof paint system. When you hear “paint system,” you might have to use specific primers and conditioners before you apply the top coats of elastomeric.
It’s also very thick. About 2-3 times the thickness of your typical exterior paint.
These qualities certainly make it a great paint for stucco.
But Is Elastomeric The Best Paint For Stucco?
The Advantages Of Elastomeric On Stucco
When Elastomeric paint is applied correctly, it is an actual waterproof paint. It’s very thick paint, allowing it to bridge gaps and minor cracks.
Ben Moore UltraSpec Elastomeric has a 300% elongation.
In addition to its flexibility, it is very thick which gives it an exceptionally high build. One coat of Elastomeric has 2-3 times the mil thickness as a standard gallon of acrylic paint.
The Disadvantages Of Elastomeric On Stucco
Pin wholes are small areas that the elastomeric paint did not cover. These small pin holes happen when rolling too quickly, causing bubbling. The result is that these pin size holes allow water to enter behind a waterproof paint. Moisture can not transfer through the paint and collects like water in a balloon behind the paint.
The solution would be to apply a block filler on the stucco to ensure all pin holes are gone. Then use either another coat of Elastomeric or any acrylic exterior paint.
A few elastomeric paints are breathable and allow moisture to transfer; UltraSpec is one. However, most elastomeric paint systems are not breathable.
Therefore, if you believe that there are any areas outside the house where water can get behind the paint, elastomeric would not be a good choice.
Because the paint is thick, a gallon of elastomeric only spreads between 80-100 square feet per gallon. That’s about a third of what universal exterior paints would cover.
Though most elastomeric paints dry to the touch in 2 hours, a recoat must wait until the following day. Having to wait this long between coats could increase the labor cost.
Elastomeric paints such as Conflex Sherlastic need to be applied when temperatures are above 50 degrees for 24 hours. Other masonry paint, such as Loxon XP, can be used when surface temperatures exceed 35 degrees.
And finally, if, after power washing, the surface still has a chalkiness left, it will need to be primed with a masonry conditioner. Other acrylic masonry paints can go directly over chalky surfaces.
Below is a short list in no particular order of excellent elastomeric paints.
What Makes Elastomeric Great Can Also Be Its Downfall
Leading Elastomeric Paints Made For Stucco
Wet mil/dry mil
# of coats
UltraSpec Masonary Elastomeric
Minor cracks up to 1/32”
Perma-Crete Pitt Flex Elastomeric
Acrylic Masonry Paints
Pro’s Of Acrylic Masonry Waterproofing paint
Let me mention that elastomeric paint is acrylic paint. However, it has some slight differences from acrylic masonry paints worth mentioning.
The first advantage is that acrylic masonry (A.M.) paints can be applied when temperatures are as low as 35 degrees.
Secondly, A.M. is not a paint system. That means it can go directly over new concrete without priming.
Cons Of Acrylic Masonry Paint Vs. Elastomeric
The experts I spoke to believe the elastomeric has a slight edge for waterproofing, and the data supports that claim.
Below is a short list in no particular order of excellent acrylic masonry paints.
Leading Acrylic Masonry Paints
coverage square foot
Wet mils/dry mils
# of coats
Hairline cracks only
Ultra Spec Masonry Acrylic
Low Luster / Flat
What About Using Universal House Paints For Stucco
By “universal paints,” I mean a paint that can be on many surfaces such as wood, vinyl, metal, stucco, etc. In other words, they are your standard or universal house paint.
Comparing them to Acrylic Masonry Paints and Elastomeric, it is easy to see the pros and cons.
The Pros of using Universal Exterior Paints
First, Universal paints coverage is 2 -3 times greater. Secondly, you can choose any sheen. Thirdly, most dry faster the Acrylic Masonry paints and Elastomeric making it easier to apply two coats in one day.
The Cons of using Universal Exterior Paints
The most glaring weakness of universal paints is the mil thickness. Elastomeric and Acrylic Masonry Paints are 2-3 times thicker, which explains their poor coverage.
Experts agreed that even when one coat looks good, two coats add durability, protection, and longevity. If you can afford to apply for a second coat, it will pay big dividends down the road.
Below is a short list in no particular order of excellent universal exterior paints.
Wet mil/dry mil
# of coats
It is not
Yes it is
Conclusion: What Is The Best Paint For Stucco
I wasn’t expecting any of the regional sales reps to suggest a paint outside of their brand, but I was surprised they all chose the Acrylic Masonry paint.
Sherwin Williams Regional Sales Rep – picks Luxon XP
Ben Moore Regional Sales Rep – picks Regal High Build
PPG Regional Sales Rep – picks Perma-Crete
Surprisingly, none of the experts picked Elastomeric Paint Systems. Why?
Sherwin Williams Regional Sales Rep – Luxon XP is easy to use, more available, and self-priming. In short, fewer variables than Conflex.
Ben Moore Regional Sales Rep – picks Regal High Build.
There are 350 square feet of coverage per gallon; some sheens are very mildew resistant, with excellent color retention.
PPG Regional Sales Rep – picks Perma-Crete. It is a breathable waterproof system that won’t trap moisture that must transfer through the paint.