Technical Papers

Stucco Homes in PA and NJ: Why They're Failing and What to do as a Homeowner

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018 by Michael Gabrian

There has been a massive problem for homeowners in Pennsylvania and New Jersey who own stucco homes built within the last 15 to 20 years. Tens of thousands of homes are seeing extreme water damage hidden under the stucco exterior of their homes.

What does this mean for homeowners with stucco siding?

If this issue is not taken care of, moisture will continue to accumulate and make the problem worse. This can pose hazards to the inhabitants’ health, it can severely drop the value of your home, and it could leads to repair costs in the six digits.

A lot of what it comes down to is the quality of work that the installers use. A lot of complaints come from either an inferior stucco replacement or just shoddy installation. If there is improper spacing and water management, there is an opening to a bunch of problems.

Let’s talk a bit more about the details of this problem and what you can do to prevent any more damage to your stucco home.

Stucco with water damage

The problem

So what exactly went wrong? People have begun to steer clear of stucco when buying homes, but is stucco actually the problem?

The fault really lies with the contractors that cut corners when applying the stucco to the homes. Stucco is naturally absorbent, which isn’t actually a problem if you apply proper water management measures to the home. With incorrect installation, water and moisture finds it’s way under the stucco and doesn’t have a way out. This is where mold and mildew will begin to form which can ultimately form into black mold or compromise the integrity of you home. Some people have reported their siding has turned into a mush from the moisture. I’d suggest combatting this using BlueSkinVP, a water resistant barrier, under your stucco. This will prevent any trapped moisture from eating away at your home’s wooden structure.

One of the big issues is that it’s incredibly difficult to actually know if you have any water damage with stucco. It just grows for years without your knowing. You won’t actually know that there is a problem until you see stucco tears forming on the exterior. The worst part is that some homeowners had to replace their stucco siding just a few years after installing it!

Since most homeowner’s insurance policies don’t usually cover mold or poor construction, people are left paying out of pocket for what could be anywhere from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

How to prevent damage from moisture from getting caught under your stucco siding

The solution really ranges based on how bad the damage to your home actually is. If it’s minor damage, you could probably just add a water resistant barrier and install better flashing to prevent the problem in the future. For some people, the only answer might be to take down entire walls that have been compromised far beyond repair.

For sure, though, you’ll need to install proper flashing and a water resistant barrier. We at Global Home Improvement highly recommend BlueskinVP as a water resistant barrier. It’s a peel and stick exterior barrier that prevents any moisture from getting in and damaging the structure of the home, but it also allows breathability for interior vapor to escape. Other water barriers require nails, which ultimately require you to force hundreds of holes into your barrier opening your home up to a lot of damage potential. This will at least protect the interior of your home. To repair the integrity of your stucco, you’ll need to have a reputable contractor to come and make the repairs.

What can you do right now?

Although it’s not easy to get a view of what’s going on under your stucco siding, there are a couple of quick easy things you can do to see if your home is in danger.

The first thing you should do is check your walls for brown streaks. Your most vulnerable points will be near windows, intersecting walls, etc. This is where flashing work is emphasized and some companies will cut corners, so it would be best to check there first.

If the damage is a bit more severe, you may see signs inside your home. You should be able to see some of the same water stains on walls, but also look for any wet spots on your floors and carpets. You may also be able to smell that musty, mildew smell in your home. That’s also a bad sign.

You could hire a specialized stucco inspector to conduct moisture tests to see how bad your damage might be. They’ll be able to determine how much moisture you may have built up behind your stucco and if it’s caused any damage.

It might also be a good idea to call up a more reputable company, like Global Home Improvement to assess the area and see if you have any weak points and where you could benefit.


If you own a stucco home in PA or NJ, there is a very high chance that your siding was constructed poorly. This pertains to recent and dated installations.

The problem is that stucco siding just isn’t meant for this type of climate and environment. It’s best in dry climates where it won’t be exposed to a lot of moisture. If you’re looking for a durable, strong, and weatherproof siding option that won’t be damaged from moisture, consider a Hardie siding replacement.

If you think you might have water damage or really aren't sure, play it safe and have someone come check it out.

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