Stucco vs. Concrete: Which to Choose?

Stucco vs. Concrete: Which to Choose?

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Two materials commonly used when building houses include stucco and concrete. With that being said, these are not at all the same things.

Today, we want to figure out what both of these materials are, what makes them similar and different, and which is best for specific uses.

Stucco and Concrete: The Basics

Before we talk about similarities and differences, let’s first figure out exactly what these materials are.

What Is Stucco?

SIKA - 503333 Sikacryl Ready-Mix Stucco Patch, 1 Qt, White Stucco, also known as render, is a fairly common construction material. It is made out of a binder, water, and aggregates.

In fact, stucco is made out of cement, usually Portland cement. It also contains lime and sand as aggregate. In this sense, it is actually extremely similar to mortar.

Although, unlike mortar, stucco is not used for joining masonry, but rather for aesthetic and decorative purposes. Yes, stucco does dry into a hard and dense material, although it’s not really load-bearing.

This material is generally used for vertical decorative purposes, such as for covering the exterior of a house. Stucco can come in all sorts of colors, and can also be applied with texture.

What Is Concrete?

Concrete is a commonly used composite building material that is made out of Portland cement, water, and aggregate, which is usually sand, small stones, or gravel.

Just like with stucco, when water is mixed with the binder, which is the Portland cement, it will cure and harden.

Concrete is an extremely hard, dense, and durable material, which is also weather and fire-resistant. It is structurally sound and load-bearing, and may also be reinforced with rebar.

Concrete is used for setting fence posts, making patios and driveways, sidewalks, pouring house foundations, building walls, and building very large skyscrapers as well.

Similarities of Stucco and Concrete

There are similarities between stucco and concrete, although as you’re about to see, not that many.

1. Composition

The main similarity between these two building materials is that both stucco and concrete use cement as a binder, and also contain aggregates and water. Concrete is designed to be harder and more durable, but their general composition is quite similar.

2. Mixing and Curing

Another similarity that both of these building materials share is that they both need to be mixed with water before they can be applied. Then, once they are applied, they will require a certain amount of time to harden and then cure.

3. Water and Fire Resistance

Because both of these materials dry extremely hard and are made out of cement, they are extremely resistant to weather, fire, and pests. They are generally ideal for outdoor use.

Differences Between Stucco and Concrete

Now that we know what makes these two materials similar, let’s determine what makes them different.

1. Weight Bearing Capabilities and Durability

Thin layers of stucco really can’t handle much weight at all. Even thicker layers won’t be able to bear much weight.

Concrete, on the other hand, is able to bear up to 4,000 pounds per square inch. Concrete is also far more durable in general, as it’s harder, denser, and longer-lasting.

2. Water Resistance

Although both stucco and concrete are designed for outdoor use and are therefore very water and weather-resistant, concrete is more weather and water-resistant than stucco.

This is especially the case because, with concrete, you have really thick layers of it, whereas, with stucco, only thin layers are used.

3. Structural Integrity

Of course, concrete is used for walls, foundations, and even skyscrapers, as it is extremely structurally sound, especially when reinforced with rebar.

Stucco on the other hand is in no way structurally sound. You can’t really use it to build anything that needs to bear weight or hold anything up.

4. Drying and Curing Time

Concrete can take up to 48 hours to set, and up to seven days to cure. This is in part because of the fact that very large amounts of it are often used. Stucco, however, can take under a day to set or dry, and around 48 hours to cure.

5. Decorative Purposes

Stucco is primarily used for decorative purposes, or in other words, for lining the exterior and interior of homes. It comes in all sorts of colors and can be applied with textures.

Concrete may also come in many colors, although not as many as stucco. It’s also much easier to achieve a variety of textures with stucco than it is with concrete. Simply put, stucco is highly decorative, whereas concrete is a more structural building material.

Stucco vs. Concrete: Which of the Two Should You Use?

When it comes down to it, stucco is really only used for aesthetic or appearance-related purposes. It’s a thin layer of cement or concrete-like material that you apply to the outer surface of a house to achieve a certain look. Some people may, on occasion, also use it to cover interior walls. However, you just can’t use stucco for anything structural or load-bearing.

Concrete on the other hand is load-bearing and structurally sound. This is why it is used to build walls and skyscrapers, as well as pouring foundations for houses, driveways, sidewalks, patios, and much more. Generally speaking, one is a building material, and the other is more or less just a decoration

Summary

You should now know what the main differences between stucco and concrete are, as well as what they are best used for.

How Does Concrete Compare with Other Materials?

Below, you can find articles that compare concrete with: