I thought this was a great article to share, especially for those of us in Arizona. Regular maintenance will prevent the problems that neglect can bring. Some tips for your stucco-clad house.
- Efflorescence shows up on stucco after one of our rare soaking rains or in spots where your sprinkler has sprayed water on your house over and over. To banish or at least blunt the fuzzy white blight, mix a cleaning solution of one part vinegar to five parts water, and scrub it on with a stiff nylon brush. Rinse all of the vinegar solution off with water. Still an eyesore? Use a power washer to remove dirt, loose paint and all signs of efflorescence from the walls. Prime with an alkali-resistant sealer like Dunn-Edwards Paints' Eff-Stop, designed to help neutralize the efflorescence. Then cover with 100 percent acrylic paint. Keep moisture away from your freshly primed and painted stucco. Move your sprinklers away from the house or you'll find yourself with the same problems!
- Paint your stucco exterior with good brushes. You'll see professional painters spray painting homes, but that's not a technique for amateurs. Take the time to tape off windows and trim with painter's tape so you'll be able to paint in straight lines and get less siding paint on the trim and vise versa. Expect to pay $15 or $20 for a good, 2.5-inch tapered paint brush.
- Use elastomeric caulk, not paint, to fill in small cracks in your stucco walls. Elastomeric caulk is a better remedy because it has great elasticity, so it will move with cracks if they widen, and it will help prevent water from seeping through the cracks. Covering an entire wall with elastomeric paint, on the other hand, could make your problem worse. Elastomeric paint is so watertight that it prevents the walls from "breathing." So if water does manage to find its way into or behind your walls, it will get trapped there. That can cause problems like bubbling paint and mold growth. Use the caulk instead to repair cracks, but touch up the paint using a 100 percent acrylic paint.
- Paint stucco at least every five to seven years to keep your home more waterproof. Stucco alone is not waterproof, yet so many homeowners never or rarely repaint it. Use a high acrylic paint to ward off problems from internal water damage.
- Saltillo tile is thick and clay based, and its less-than-exact character is one of the things that make it authentic and charming. Those same natural flaws make the tiles a tad uneven though, so don't be surprised if your table and chairs are a bit wobbly when they're placed on them. Likewise, most manufacturers do not "rectify" the tiles, which means each piece might be off just a hair from the others. Susan Hoblit, general manager of Tuscon Commercial Carpet Flooring America, says you'll need more grout between tiles than you would with porcelain tiles.
- Seal your porous Saltillo every year to avoid stains from spills, and consider installing it in low traffic areas in your home. Hoblit, who's company installs tile and not Saltillo steers people away from using Saltillo tiles in kitchens, where most spills and traffic occur. If your Saltillo patio has a shade cover, seal it with a penetrating sealer. Keep your sprinklers clear of this tile or you'll be dealing with the same efflorescence that plagues your stucco.
- If you're removing Saltillo tile from a large room, consider staying elsewhere until the job is done. When Saltillo tile breaks, it crumbles, and that creates an awful lot of dust. Ask your contractor to close off the room with plastic and tape.
- If you love the look of old Mexico but your bare feet can't tolerate a Saltillo-tile patio that's muy caliente, set your tiles upside down. The undersides of Saltillo tiles are unglazed and courser than the glazed tops, so they feel cooler to the touch.
- And if you love the look but can't bare the thought of maintaining your authentic clay tile, consider using faux Saltillo made from porcelain. Hoblit notes that Saltillo-look porcelain tiles come in a wider variety of sizes than the real deal - up to 18 by 18 inches - so you can opt for fewer grout lines. And the porcelain version is level to prevent wobbly furniture, and rectified, so each tile is the same size.
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*Article from Rosie Romero via the Arizona Republic rosieonthehouse.com