Homeowners looking to install siding for its functional and aesthetic benefits can choose from various materials, depending on their budget, style preferences, and long-term maintenance goals.
While not necessarily the first material to come to mind when discussing siding, stucco has become increasingly popular in modern construction.
Understanding the pros and cons of this material compared to other popular siding options can help homeowners choose the right siding for their property.
Popular siding materials also come in a wide variety of prices, starting with vinyl as the most affordable ($3 to $8 per square foot) and ending with stucco as one of the more premium options ($8 to $12 per square foot).
However, stucco’s high price isn’t its only downside; another primary concern is its challenging (and costly) installation and high upkeep.
But the good news is that this siding option offers numerous benefits that might make you turn a blind eye to its drawbacks.
How Does Stucco Differ From Other Siding Materials?
Stucco is a thick, paste-like material made by mixing Portland cement, lime, sand, and water. This unusual construction is the biggest difference between stucco and other siding materials, most of which come in pre-made, solid sheets or panels.
The peculiarity of stucco continues with its installation. Namely, this siding material is applied wet, much like cement. It can go directly over other materials, such as stone, concrete, and brick. Once dried, the material becomes rock-solid.
Depending on your chosen system, the contractor can apply between one and three coats of stucco. The more coats there are, the better your siding will hold up to wear and tear.
Pro Tip: If you opt for the one-coat system, make sure to install a rigid foam board and lath before stucco to boost your siding’s strength and durability.
What Is Stucco Siding Made Of?
The traditional form of stucco is made of lime, sand, and water. The contemporary variants throw Portland cement into the mix. This addition allows the material to become far more durable.
Did you know? The basic form of stucco has been used for centuries by numerous civilizations for various purposes.
For instance, Roman architects used stucco to cover important monuments, while this material adorned both the interior and exterior walls of temples in ancient Greece.
Cost of Stucco vs Siding
|Siding Material||Average Cost per Sq. Ft.||Average Labor Cost per Sq. Ft.||Average Total Cost 2,000-Sq.Ft. Home|
Stucco is undoubtedly one of the more expensive siding options you can choose. But let’s see just how much its price differs from other popular siding options.
Average Cost of Stucco
On average, homeowners can expect to pay between $16,000 and $24,000 (with a median price of $20,000) to install stucco siding on a 2,000-square-foot home. Depending on your chosen system, this price can significantly increase, reaching up to $34,000 for the entire house.
Average Cost of Siding
When it comes to “regular” siding, the total project cost will primarily depend on your choice of materials. Go for something affordable as vinyl siding, and you’ll pay between $6,000 and $16,000 to side a 2,000-square-foot home.
Choose a more premium option like brick, and this cost can go up to $60,000 for the whole project.
However, most homeowners will spend around $12,000 – 16,000 for siding installation.
Siding vs Stucco Cost per Square Foot
Suppose your home is smaller or larger than the national average. In that case, the best way to calculate your siding project cost is to check out the material’s prices per square foot.
Stucco Price Per Square Foot
Most stucco applications cost between $8 and $12 per square foot. But do you want a three-coat system and the highest-quality option? If so, you’re looking at a $17-per-square-foot cost.
Siding Price Per Square Foot
The exact per-square-foot cost of other siding options will depend on the material you choose. For instance, installing vinyl siding will cost you between $3 and $8 per square foot.
Of course, even the most affordable siding option has some premium varieties. So, if you choose insulated vinyl siding, for example, expect a $10-to-$15 per square foot price range.
But let’s take vinyl as the most affordable option. What’s a moderately priced siding option, then?
The answer is fiber cement. This material costs between $6 and $12 per square foot (installed).
As for a premium option, bricking your home will set you back $10 to $30 per square foot.
When talking about the average siding installation cost and cost per square foot, we’re talking about the total project cost. But what does this cost include? There are two primary elements that the total cost can be broken down into – materials and labor.
To purchase stucco material, you’ll need to pay between $5.50 and $8 per square foot. However, this material is rare in certain regions of the U.S., making it less accessible and, thus, more expensive.
As far as labor rates go, they also depend on your location but mostly range between $2.50 and $4.75 per square foot.
Here’s a quick rundown of the material cost for some of the most popular siding materials:
Fiber cement: $3-$5
The more challenging the material is to install, the higher the labor rates. That’s why labor cost for some of these siding options even surpasses the cost of the materials:
Fiber cement: $3.25-$7
For instance, fiber cement is relatively affordable yet demanding and time-consuming to install, which explains its material-labor cost ratio.
Pro Tip: Before hiring a siding contractor, always ask for a detailed labor cost breakdown to understand how the overall labor charges are calculated. Also, check how elements like weather and material delays will affect the total labor cost. This way, you’ll avoid any unpleasant surprises down the line.
Additional Cost Factors
Although materials and labor costs should top your list of priorities, there are other ones to consider. Discover other factors that can influence the total cost of your siding project below.
Extra Costs of Stucco Installation
If you opt for stucco siding, keep these additional cost factors in mind:
The removal of the existing siding – Luckily, stucco can go over most existing sidings, provided they’re flat. However, if you have textured siding (like vinyl) installed, you’ll have to pay to remove it first.
Building permits – Stucco installation requires a building permit, which can cost up to $250.
Preparation of exterior walls – Prepping the walls before applying stucco is essential to creating a sturdy and long-lasting siding construction.
Siding accessories – Besides siding, you’ll need to install some accessories (e.g., trim) that will increase the total cost of your project.
Extra Cost Of Siding Installation
When it comes to “regular” siding, the situation is pretty much the same. You’ll have to consider the costs of old siding removal ($1,000-$3,000), building permits ($50-$250), and siding accessories ($1,000-$2,000).
Another factor that can affect the total cost is the house’s architectural structure. Homes with complicated roof angles, multiple stories, unorthodox shapes, and numerous additions like dormers and turrets will be much more challenging to side. This, in turn, means the labor costs will increase, as will your total project cost.
Pro Tip: Don’t try to avoid paying for a building permit, as this action can result in hefty fines and even the removal of unpermitted material. Inquire about these documents at your local authority or public agency on time and save yourself from unnecessary financial troubles.
Is Stucco More Expensive Than Siding?
There is no “yes” or “no” answer to this question. It all depends on the siding material you compare with stucco. But generally speaking, stucco is considered a high-end siding option, making it more expensive than most siding materials.
As mentioned before, the average cost range for installing stucco siding is $8 to $12 per square foot.
Let’s see how this range compares to other frequently used siding materials.
Stucco vs. Wood Siding Cost
Wood is a beloved siding option, especially among homeowners who consider timber the gold standard in construction. Besides offering a timeless look to your home, wood siding provides natural insulation and solid durability.
In terms of cost, wood siding has some cheaper options that cost less than stucco ($5-$7 per square foot). However, there are also some wood species that are costlier than stucco, reaching $15 per square foot.
Stucco vs. Vinyl Siding Cost
Vinyl is the most affordable siding option, so it shouldn’t be surprising it’s also cheaper than stucco. But the actual difference might still astound you.
The most expensive regular vinyl siding type (around $8 per square foot) is still cheaper than the least expensive stucco option.
Fiber Cement Siding vs. Stucco Cost
If you placed fiber cement siding on a price spectrum, it would be somewhere between “moderate” and “premium.”
At the low end, installing fiber cement siding will cost you around $6 per square foot, which is on par with the national siding installation average cost. But choose a more premium option, and you’ll pay double the amount – $12 per square foot.
Cost of Stucco vs. Brick
As another premium material, brick siding can compete with stucco in terms of pricing. In fact, this siding option is often significantly more expensive than stucco, ranging from $10 to $30 per square foot. This staggering price range puts it near the top of the most expensive siding materials on the market.
Why Is Stucco Expensive?
As a material, stucco is actually relatively affordable. However, it’s often applied in multiple coats, which calls for extra material.
On top of that, it can only be installed by certified professionals who know how to work it, raising the labor cost as well. The result? A long-lasting yet costly siding option.
Stucco Has A Variety of Uses
Stucco is primarily used as an exterior coating for homes and buildings. It can be applied over a wide range of flat surfaces and materials, including metal, concrete, and clay brick.
Besides siding the entire home, you can use stucco for decorative details inside (e.g., accent walls) and outside (e.g., artistic trim).
Pro Tip: Avoid using stucco in rainy environments, as the constant precipitation can oversaturate the stucco, leading to potential structural damage beneath.
Where Is Stucco Installation Popular?
Due to its sustainability in these climates, stucco is highly popular in the Pacific Coast, Mountain States, and the South Atlantic region of the U.S. Out of homeowners opting to use stucco in these regions, most are building new homes.
Pros and Cons of Stucco vs. Siding
Like any material, all these siding options have specific benefits and drawbacks. Learn more about them here, and you’ll make your final decision in no time.
The use of stucco in construction dates back centuries. For a material to be used for so long, it must offer excellent benefits to homeowners and contractors. And that’s exactly what stucco does. Check out just some of them below:
Seamless design – With stucco, there are no mending corners, matching pieces, or aligning seams. This material can simply be slathered on, regardless of the complexity of your home’s shape.
Excellent fire resistance – Stucco is naturally resistant to fire. Even a 1-inch coat can prevent the spread of fire for at least an hour. This makes it an excellent siding choice for homes located in arid climates and areas prone to wildfires.
Unparalleled durability – Thanks to the layer application and the material formulation, stucco can protect your home for up to 100 years.
Attractive appearance – Stucco can be applied in virtually any color and texture, creating an eye-catching and unique exterior.
Cons of Stucco
Expensive siding option – A high price tag is continuously mentioned as the biggest drawback of stucco siding. But it’s not the only one.
Specialty installation – Stucco isn’t the most DIY-friendly material. Hiring a professional installer is the only way to ensure this project goes off without a hitch.
High maintenance – If you live in an area with lots of direct sunlight, you’ll have to touch up your siding’s paint more frequently, as it tends to fade. Stucco is also prone to staining and cracking, which should also be addressed promptly.
Pros of Wood Siding
Wood is a highly popular material in construction, despite its limitations. Homeowners who opt for this material primarily do so for the following reasons:
Looks classic and timeless – The appearance of wood can rarely be replicated 100% by other siding options.
Minimal environmental impact – Wood is also beloved by environmentally conscious homeowners and contractors. This natural material is biodegradable, renewable, and emits no pollutants during manufacturing.
Cons of Wood Siding
Unfortunately, there is a high price to pay for giving your property a charming boost with this siding option.
High maintenance – As beautiful as natural material looks on a home, we mustn’t forget about its natural enemies. In the case of wood, these are termites, woodpeckers, and carpenter ants. Wood’s vulnerability to these and other elements (rotting, swelling, etc.) calls for regular and costly maintenance.
Relatively short lifespan – Even with proper maintenance, this siding option is less durable than some of its low-maintenance competitors.
Vinyl Siding Pros
Vinyl is the most popular material for various construction endeavors, and siding is no different. This popularity mostly stems from its low cost. But that’s not all there is to vinyl.
The budget-friendly material is also loved by homeowners and contractors alike for the following qualities:
Decent durability – On average, vinyl siding lasts about 20-25 years. But with proper installation and maintenance, it can last as many as 35-40 years.
Great fire resistance – Vinyl siding is hard to ignite and quick to extinguish, making it ideal for fire-prone areas.
Many design options – Style-conscious homeowners will be happy to know there’s a vinyl siding design option for virtually every aesthetic vision.
Ease of installation – DIY-savvy homeowners will have no trouble installing this siding.
Low maintenance – Occasional cleaning is all you need to keep your vinyl siding in pristine condition.
Cons of Vinyl Siding
Of course, it can’t all be good. Vinyl can also fade faster than other siding types (after 10 to 15 years), as it’s highly susceptible to UV light exposure.
Since it’s also sensitive to severe weather conditions and water damage, this material is less durable and long-lasting than others.
Advantages of Fiber Cement Siding
Fiber cement has entered the siding industry with a bang. One look at its amazing benefits and it becomes clear why. This siding material boasts the following characteristics:
Impressive durability – Fiber cement siding can last up to 50 years, even in harsh weather conditions.
Low maintenance – As a rot and termite-resistant material, this siding option won’t trouble you much in the maintenance department.
A broad range of styles – Whatever your architectural preference is, you’ll find the perfect fiber cement siding to go with.
Cons of Fiber Cement Siding
Some factors that might deter you from choosing this material include the following:
Complex installation – Fiber cement is quite heavy, making it challenging to manipulate. Its installation also requires specialized tools, making professional installation the only feasible route.
Low energy efficiency – Though fiber cement siding adds another layer of protection to your home, it does little for its energy efficiency.
Moisture absorption – Fiber cement isn’t completely impervious to moisture. The result? Your siding might swell, crack, or develop mold and mildew after some time.
Advantages of Brick
Brick is a timeless choice for numerous exterior applications. This material has been a standard in the construction industry for decades due to its incredible benefits:
Superior longevity and durability – When properly installed, brick siding can last more than 150 years.
Low maintenance – With this siding material, there’s no need for regular repainting or touchups. Plus, it’s impervious to insects and other animals.
Small carbon footprint – Brick siding is made from natural materials, lasts long, and emits no chemicals.
Weather and fire resistance – Brick is virtually an indestructible material. Whether “attacked” by the elements or fire, you can rest assured this siding will maintain its integrity, safeguarding your home in the process.
Disadvantages of Brick
Costly installation – Installing brick siding is a labor-intensive and time-consuming process. So, no wonder it’s also pretty pricey.
Design limitations – One can argue that the appearance of brick siding is nothing short of iconic. But with this siding, that appearance is all you get. Though there are some color variations, you won’t be able to experiment with the design much.
Challenging repairs – If something manages to damage your brick siding, restoring it to its former glory can be near-impossible.
No waterproofing capabilities – Unless you apply a sealant, water infiltration is a highly likely scenario with brick siding.
What Lasts Longer: Stucco or Siding?
Thanks to its formulation and application process, stucco is among the most long-lasting materials in the siding industry.
At an impressive 60-100-year lifespan, it outperforms almost all siding options. If you want to put this into perspective, vinyl siding will only last about 20 to 40 years, while fiber cement can pull off a 50-year lifespan when taken care of correctly.
The only siding materials that can compete with stucco in this regard are natural stone and brick (more than 100 years).
What Is Better: Stucco or Siding?
The answer to this question boils down to your preferences, needs, and budget. If you want a highly durable, uniquely looking, and timeless siding option, stucco is the way to go.
However, if you want a less expensive alternative that also offers more design choices and flexibility, check out some of the other siding materials at your disposal.
No Right or Wrong Choice
Installing new siding is an excellent way to enhance the curb appeal of your home, improve its protection, and boost its market value.
As long as you carefully inspect the pros and cons of your desired siding material, you can’t go wrong.
If you’re not limited by a tight budget and want your home to stand out in the neighborhood, stucco siding might be the best option for you.