Stucco Maintenance Tips for Santa Fe, New Mexico

Although stucco has been around since ancient times, its popularity has recently increased dramatically. This is largely due to the growing demand for energy efficiency and sustainability–not to mention its link to New Mexico’s past. Whether homeowners choose traditional or synthetic stucco, keeping it maintained is key. At Santa Fe Stucco and¬†Roofing, we treat every home like it’s our own–so let us give you some tips on how to maintain your stucco and keep it looking fresh for years to come.

History of Stucco in New Mexico

You’d be hard-pressed to think about New Mexico without picturing its iconic stucco and adobe buildings. This earthy and textured material has been a staple of the New Mexico housing landscape for over a century. But did you know that our great state’s architecture almost had a different look entirely?

In an attempt to ease its entry into the Union in the 1800s, the territory of New Mexico pushed to¬†modernize its architecture, constructing buildings of Romanesque and Neo-Classical styles. It wasn’t until 1912, in a bid to attract visitors and grow the shrinking town, that the tourism board of Santa Fe committed to preserving and constructing buildings in the “Santa Fe Style”. Years later, this design continues to be a beloved link between New Mexico’s past and present. Read on to find out how best to preserve the stucco of your own beautiful home.

What is Stucco?

Stucco is an outer coating made from Portland cement, lime, water, and sand. Modern synthetic stucco has additives that give it elastic capabilities. Stucco is commonly applied in a three-coat process requiring drying time between layers.

Reasons to Have Stucco in New Mexico

Stucco has quite a few practical benefits–not to mention, its romantic style can do nothing but increase your curb appeal.

Sustainability: Stucco is sourced from materials that are local to and plentiful in the Southwest: cement, sand, lime, and water.

Durability: When properly maintained (tips on that below!), stucco can last from 50-80 years, making it a sound and stylish investment for your home. It also has significant fire-resistant properties, which could buy you extra time in the case of an emergency.

Stylish: Depending on the type of stucco you select, you’ll be able to choose from a wide variety of colors and textures.

Traditional vs. Synthetic Stucco

As you consider the best option for your house, you might wonder, what’s the difference between traditional and synthetic stucco? Traditional stucco is comprised of the same natural materials that have been used for centuries: cement, water, sand, and lime. Synthetic stucco has added polymers that increase its elasticity. So, is synthetic stucco better than traditional stucco? Let’s look at the pros and cons of each.

Pros of Traditional Stucco

Energy Efficiency

A stucco exterior makes sense in an arid climate like New Mexico’s. The shell-like structure of stucco provides quality insulation across changing seasons. This means you can save on the energy bill!


Stucco is the perfect material for a cost-effective build. Firstly, stucco is made up of local and plentiful components. Secondly, it can last well over half a century if¬†maintained properly. Pair those two things together, and it’s hard to deny that stucco is a solid investment.

A Variety of Textures

Although stucco has an iconic and recognizable look, not all stucco exteriors look the same. A skilled professional can manipulate traditional stucco into various textures–from rough to smooth–during the application process.


Traditional stucco has more porosity than synthetic stucco, which means the material is more breathable and can work against moisture buildup.

Cons of Traditional Stucco

Inflexibility: The shell-like structure of traditional stucco we mentioned above can also render it quite brittle. Shifts in the soil or foundation can cause troublesome cracks, leaving your home vulnerable to water damage.

Requires Regular Maintenance: The things that make traditional stucco great can also leave it vulnerable. It needs constant maintenance to keep it functioning well and to prevent sneaky moisture damage.

Pros of Synthetic Stucco

Flexibility: The plasticized nature of synthetic stucco allows it to expand and contract easily, making it well suited to temperature changes. Synthetic stucco contains acrylic resins and fiberglass, making it lighter and more durable than traditional stucco. These properties also aid synthetic stucco in insulation.

More Color Options:¬†If you’re not exclusively attached to earth tones, synthetic stucco can be found in more vibrant colors than traditional stucco.

Cons of Synthetic Stucco

Appearance: Although the color options are more comprehensive, as noted above, synthetic stucco does not have as many textures as traditional stucco.

Cost: Due to the added materials that give synthetic stucco its elasticity, the cost of synthetic stucco can be slightly higher than that of traditional stucco.

Performance: The added polymers in synthetic stucco make it less porous than traditional stucco, making it easier to trap moisture instead of drying out, especially when the primer or base layer is unevenly applied. Regular maintenance of synthetic stucco is vital if homeowners want to catch any water damage problems before they go too far.

Best Stucco Maintenance Tips

It can be satisfying to find the best stucco for your home. The next step is to protect your investment by keeping up with repairs. After all, correctly maintained stucco can have a lifespan of 50-80 years. So, how often should you perform stucco maintenance?¬† It’s best to have trusted professionals carry out maintenance every year, although you should keep an eye out for any cracks or breaks that would require immediate attention.

Even though skilled professionals should do stucco installation and major stucco repairs, there are still things that any homeowner can do to extend the lifetime of their stucco.

  • Clean the surface:¬†Just because stucco is porous doesn’t mean you have to avoid water altogether (just make sure any cracks or holes are repaired, first!). You can clean the walls with a mild detergent and spray them down with your garden hose (make sure it’s on a light setting as to not damage the outer stucco shell).
  • Inspect the stucco regularly:¬†Schedule a stucco inspection with a professional immediately if you notice any significant cracks or holes. Peeling could indicate that moisture has been trapped beneath the surface, which could prove devastating in the long run.
  • Tend to your landscaping:¬†It‚Äôs generally not a good idea to have any plants, especially those with rigid branches, making contact with your stucco walls. Over time, constant rubbing can cause surface damage to the stucco finish.

Quality Stucco Repair in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Following these simple stucco maintenance tips can delay the need for a total restoration of your home’s exterior. However, whenever that time comes, Santa Fe Stucco and Roofing is here to take care of all of your stucco or roof repair needs. Whether you choose synthetic or traditional stucco, we’ll complete your project with the greatest care.