Screen Your Stucco: The importance of effective water-resistive barriers

stucco_Damage_Tear Down
There is damage to this wall assembly from major moisture infiltration.
The repair of damaged stucco is seen here.









Most commonly, inspectors see moisture management problems are caused by a lack of continuity in the water management system, lack of attention to detail, poor workmanship, and failure to meet the minimum standards. When discussing moisture, there are so many different factors that can become problems. It is important for installers to make sure the details are done correctly.

“Stucco absorbs water and there is very little air movement within the walls, a combination that makes the product unforgiving of installation errors,” Thompson added.

The progression of technology in building construction has made it possible to tailor solutions to fit each particular circumstance, enhancing the structure’s ability to guard against moisture over the long haul.

Determining the proper system for a building remains one without a set method of evaluation, but with a solid understanding of the differences in the roles and performance characteristics of rainscreen systems and the distinct types of WRBs, making the right product decision can be simplified. Ultimately, the deciding factor should be the environment, taking into consideration the geographic location and the building’s climate zone. The levels of annual rainfall, temperature, and average relative humidity (RH) will dictate the proper application. Each option for stucco specifications should be evaluated for its ability to drain bulk water and dry remaining wetness based on the environmental stresses that will be imposed on it. As the state of building science progresses, builders and architects will have better information to guide them in this decision-making process.

George Caruso has more than a decade of experience in the building products industry and serves as the directorof product development and technical support for Benjamin Obdyke. Caruso has authored several articles for trade publications, as well as being featured in a business magazine for championing an innovation initiative at Benjamin Obdyke. He has participated in the building science community and code standards committees (such as ASTM Committee E06 Performance of Buildings), while balancing that knowledge with extensive in-field work with contractors, remodelers, and builders. A graduate of Penn State University with an engineering degree, Caruso is holder or co-holder of seven U.S. and Canadian patents. He can be contacted by e-mail at

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