Stains on stucco
on a new house

Ask the pros- January, 2002
By Reggie Bullard



Stains on stucco on new house 

We built a new house in Minnesota and closed last February. The front of the house is stucco. The final coat was applied in May when the temperature was warmer.  A week after the final coat was applied, we experienced many rainy days.  One of our builder's subs (concrete sub) piled dirt about 2 feet from the house before the final coat was applied. The rain splattered dirt on the bottom 4 feet of stucco, turning the almond color to dark brown.  We tried spraying off with a garden hose and bristle brush, but had no luck. We contacted the builder immediately and was told he'd look into it. We called the builder every one to two weeks to get an answer on what to do with no response. The pile of dirt remained in place from May until early July at which time the builder's final grade/excavation sub showed up. In mid September, our builder finally responded via a letter, stating that he was not responsible for the staining, stating that once the stucco was applied, it was the homeowner's responsibility.

  We've contacted the stucco subcontracter who told us the only way to take care of the stain is to Fog Coat it (he uses La Habra materials). Cost:$700-$1000.

  Here's the legal catch.  The stucco, concrete work and final grade were all escrowed in a holdback account until final completion.  The mortgage company has said they consider the house not complete until the stains are removed, because the staining resulted in part from one of the escrowed projects, therefore, the builder is still waiting for his escrow monies.  The builder doesn't know I know this information, and is now calling me (after not  calling me for months) 'just curious' if I lined up someone to take care the fog coating. I have and work will start next week.

  Even though the staining was caused in part by work he was responsible for, I would have taken steps to prevent the staining had the builder simply informed me that staining was possible.  The builder in fact noted in September that he new staining could occurr and stated that it happens on brick too. It was two weeks later when he informed us he was not taking responsibility.

  I saw a tip on a website to try trisodium phosphate to remove staining. Do you have any other advice, stucco or other.

 I haven't tried trisodium phosphate, but I doubt it
does much once that dirt is embedded.
I think the fog coat is your only way out. It will
cover stains. It may look a little "skimpy" when it
is put on, but after it sits overnight it should look fine.

It seems like you have to deal with some of the same
type of people I do all the time "it's not my fault"
or finger pointing at everyone else.

the General Contractor is liable to protect all the work until 
the building is delivered, even if they have to pay for repairs.
Stucco stains easily, and the stains are due to the negligence
of the concrete contractor.

All these people have insurance like me. All they
have to do is file a claim admitting they were negligent,
the insurance pays for the fog except maybe a $250
deductible, you get your house finished, they get their
money, and everybody lives happily ever after.

You can probably get part of the stain out with a hose.
The trick is to wet the wall from the bottom up.
Even though this doesn't sound logical, you'll see
it works better. As the water soaks in the bottom
it saturates the wall. As you wet the wall from above,
that water runs down, further saturating the wall.
By the time you get to the top, the bottom is saturated
loosening up some of the dirt. Now you can hose some of it off.
Let it dry a couple days and put on your fog.

As a word to the wise, you may want to spread hay
on the ground to keep the wall from getting splattered
again, until you have some ground cover growing. 

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