How To Find the Best Plastering & Stucco in Marin County CA
Plastering and stucco in Marin County requires licensed contractors for new lathing and plastering or stucco, or for plaster repair, stucco repair, or stucco remediation. Experience, methods and materials used can vary widely among contractors for plaster and stucco in Marin County and the following research by The Prime Buyer's Report explains the differences.
The following research by The Prime Buyer's Report identifies the best stucco & plaster contractors in Marin County and issues related to hiring them.
Updated November 04, 2016
How To Find the Best Plastering & Stucco in Marin County CA
Lathing and plastering contractors in Marin County are required to have a C35 license from the State of California to install laths and do interior plaster or exterior plaster work, including stucco. If the plaster and stucco contractors have employees they are legally required to have workers' compensation insurance which protects you the customer from being sued or a claim against your own insurance in the event an injury occurs during work performed on your property.
They are not required by law to have general liability insurance, but all stucco and plaster contractors bearing The Prime Buyer's Report—TOP 10 symbol have general liability insurance coverage which reimburses you in the event of any damages, in addition to passing all other requirements for The Prime Buyer's Report—TOP 10 status such as hiring only documented workers, verified license and workers' comp insurance, clean complaint record, our research phone calls with previous clients, and more.
Why Lathing & Plaster?
For simple interior walls, simple sheets of drywall are most common as an alternative to traditional lathing and plaster, but plaster is still preferred for ornamental, curved, or unusual shapes since lathing provides a flexibility that manufactured drywall doesn't, such as for rounded walls. For exteriors, stucco is a decorative coating that is often used to cover less attractive construction materials such as concrete, cinder block, adobe, or clay brick, which if painted, are prevented from breathing and have to be re-painted every few years. In constrast, stucco is a breathable material where the color is in the final coat of the stucco and it does not need to be painted. Especially in hot regions, stucco is an excellent building material because it helps to regulate temperatures.
The Lathing & Plaster Process
Lath and plaster is a process once used mostly for ceilings and interior walls. In modern times, plaster used on exterior walls has a slightly different composition and is referred to as stucco. Stucco contractors in Marin County most often do their work under the State's C35 Lathing & Plastering license since the materials and process for plastering and stucco are very similar.
Traditional laths are narrow strips of wood nailed horizontally across the wall studs. Using a wooden board or some other tool, the first coat of wet plaster, known as a scratch coat, was applied over the wood lathing, forcing the plaster between the gaps. Often, a second layer called a "brown coat" was applied as a half inch of rough, sandy plaster. Over this a smooth white final coat was added. When the plaster had completely dried, it could be painted. The plaster that had been forced through the gaps in the lath and are seen only from the inside of the wall, are called keys and are necessary to keep the plaster adhered to the lath and if there's not enough, the plaster can eventually fall off. Older plaster incorporated animal hair as a reinforcement fiber to prevent the keys from breaking off. Modern applications can use other additions to the plaster for the same purpose and a one-coat method can replace the older three-coat method.
Plaster or stucco may be applied directly to masonry, brick or stone without lathing but both masonry and wood lathing must be kept damp to ensure a good bond with the plaster and prevent them from pulling moisture out of the plaster too rapidly which results in cracking and loss of bond.
Modern Types of Lathing
The traditional narrow wood strips used as lathing were eventually replaced by rock lath, also known as button board. Rock lath is a manufactured gypsum wall board in sheets of 2' x 4' to fit between wall studs, and which has holes spaced regularly across it to serve the same adhesion function as the gaps between strips of traditional wood lathing. Another modern alternative to wood lathing is diamond mesh metal lath which is a galvanized metal wire lattice similar looking to chicken wire but thicker and stronger. Exterior stucco most commonly uses diamond mesh metal lath if being used on a wood frame building.
What is Plaster? What is Stucco?
The difference between plaster and stucco is based more on use than on composition. At one time, stucco was used to mean fine interior ornamental plasterwork but in modern usage stucco has come to mean plaster for exteriors. The term render or rendering are also terms used to describe stucco.
Older plaster and stucco were both made of lime, sand and water. Modern plaster uses gypsum instead of lime because it hardens faster with less shrinkage, and modern stucco uses Portland cement instead of lime for greater durability. Additives such as glass fibers or acrylics may be added to improve the strength and adhesive properties of the plaster and stucco. Stucco is durable, water-resistant, fire-resistant, and low-maintenance. Stucco can be hand-applied or machine sprayed, often with one base layer and a finish layer, rather than the older three-coat method.
Where stucco is applied over wood framing or light-gauge steel framing, the framing is protected from moisture by including a gas-permeable, water-resistant barrier such as manufactured plastic sheets known as stucco wraps or building wraps, or an asphalt-saturated paper. These barriers are designed to prevent rain and moisture from getting in but to allow water vapor from inside the building to escape from the wall.
Stucco Textures & Finishes
The finish coat can be made smooth (also called a sand or float finish), or textured for appearance sake, sometimes to appear as other material such as wood grain or scored to simulate masonry joints. Hard coating is another way of adding finish to a stucco wall where materials like glass chunks, marble or stones are set into the wet stucco wall. This kind of finish coat is inflexible, heavy, and can be hard to repair. Older stucco textures include English Cotswold or English Cottage finish, fan texture, sponge finish, adobe finish, and Italian or Spanish finish.
Modern stucco texture finishes include spatter or spatterdash (also known as roughcast, wetcast, or harling finish), drydash or pebble dash. Spatterdash finish is made by throwing the stucco plaster against the wall using broom or brush and requires much skill on the part of the plasterer. The pebble-dash or drydash finish is made by the plasterer throwing dry pebbles onto wet stucco and a more uniform finish can be made by patting the stones down with a wooden float. The drydash finish may also be made using a texturing machine.
A wide range of colors can mixed into the finish coat of the stucco or plaster, known as a color coat. Or color can be applied in a final coat of acrylic finish.
Natural stucco is a Portland cement plaster. A synthetic stucco alternative to natural stucco is EIFS (Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems). This synthetic stucco is a multi-layered exterior finish consisting of an inner layer of foam insulation board, a middle layer of polymer and cement base applied to the foam board and reinforced with glass fiber mesh, and an exterior layer which serves as a textured finish coat. These layers bond to form a covering that isn't moisture permeable which can be fine for a concrete building but can be a problem when used on wood frame houses when wood rot occurs due to interior moisture that can't escape. It's important with synthetic stucco that any opening such as window frames and doors, and the areas around flashings are properly sealed to prevent water getting in behind the EIFS, that the foam does not extend below grade, and that items which penetrate the synthetic stucco must be sealed. Newer EIFS systems include a drainage arrangement to prevent moisture from being trapped behind the covering.
Stucco Repair & Plaster Repair in Marin County
A licensed C35 contractor can repair stucco and plaster that has cracked, deteriorated, or pulled away from the substrate. In the case of exterior stucco repair, work might include redirecting rainwater runoff and splash-back away from the building, improving drainage, and downspout repairs. Before repairing stucco and plaster an assessment will be made to determine the extent of the damage and how much must be replaced rather than repaired. Unsound or soft areas that have lost their key will echo with a hollow sound when gently tapped with a hammer or mallet. Small hairline cracks in plaster or stucco are often not serious and can be easily sealed with a thin slurry of finish coat, or whitewash. Larger cracks will have to be cut out to prepare for a more extensive repair.
Stucco Inspectors in Marin County
A stucco inspection can be the first step in assessing a stucco home you intend to purchase, or before hiring a contractor for stucco repairs or stucco remediation. A thorough stucco inspection should include moisture probing under at least 10 percent of all windows, under all gutter terminations and under all decks. The finished stucco inspection report should be several pages long and include dozens of photographs.
The stucco inspector you select should be independent of any repair or warranty organization, and should not be the stucco contractor that did the original work.
Stucco Guarantees & Stucco Warranties
A guarantee is a promise from a stucco contractor to repair any leaks or damage caused by a failure of the work but is limited to only the work performed by that stucco contractor. A warranty is a separate instrument that usually covers the entire stucco system regardless of who performed the repair or stucco remediation. There are several companies who offer stucco warranties for purchase. When selecting a stucco warranty company, know that it should not be a company that also does stucco inspections or repair work, that they should warrant the entire stucco system, and that the company should be underwritten by a third-party underwriter (beware stucco warranty providers that pay claims from their Errors and Omissions insurance or their cash flow).
Some Plaster / Stucco Contractors in Marin County Are A Much Better Value Than Others
The Prime Buyer's Report lists these contractors for stucco or plaster in Marin County CA: Weber Plastering Inc San Rafael CA, Venton Plastering Novato CA, Marin Plastering San Rafael CA. Other plaster or stucco contractors in San Rafael CA who might still be in business include: One Stop Plastering Greenbrae CA.
Questions To Ask Contractors for Plastering & Stucco in Marin County CA
When choosing which stucco or plaster contractor to hire, ask these questions about their experience, methods and materials, and guarantees or warranties:
• How long has the stucco contractor or plasterer been in Marin County?
• How many jobs have they performed?
• Can the stucco contractor or plasterer give you names and numbers of previous customers you can call as references? (All stucco & plastering contractors bearing The Prime Buyer's Report—TOP 10 symbol have already had their customers called by research staff at The Prime Buyer's Report so you don't have to.)
• What method of application do they use and what are the benefits and drawbacks to that method? For example, how many coats do they do? Is it hand applied or do they use sprayers?
• What materials do they use? For example, what is the makeup of their choice in plaster or in stucco? If stucco, is it natural Portland cement-based stucco or is it EIF (synthetic stucco)?
• How long do they guarantee their work for and is it in writing?
• Aside from their own guarantees, is their work covered by any manufacturer warranty or that of a third-party warranty provider?
• Can the stucco contractor or plasterer prove that all workers sent to your property are legally allowed to work in the U.S.? (All companies for plastering and stucco in Marin County bearing The Prime Buyer's Report—TOP 10 symbol have already signed an agreement to only hire documented workers.)
• Does the stucco or plastering company have active workers' compensation and general liability insurance? (All contractors for plaster or stucco in Marin County bearing The Prime Buyer's Report—TOP 10 symbol have already shown proof of general liability insurance to research staff at The Prime Buyer's Report.)
• In preparation for a written bid for your evaluation, what process will they undertake to do a thorough assessment of the property, or of the existing stucco or plaster in the case of plaster repair or stucco remediation?
• Who besides the licensed stucco contractor will actually be performing the work? Are they permanent employees, what are their personal qualifications and experience and how long have they worked for the contractor?
• Will the plaster or stucco company be performing all the work themselves or will they be subcontracting any part of it out, and if so, to whom?
• If the work is for interior plaster and you are living in the house at the time, how will your access and use of the home be affected?
• When you've chosen the best plasterer or stucco company in Marin County for your specific needs and priorities, make sure they are still licensed in good standing with a C35 contractor's license. (All companies for plastering & stucco in Marin County bearing The Prime Buyer's Report—TOP 10 symbol have already had their license verified by research staff at The Prime Buyer's Report.)
Resources About Stucco & Plaster in Marin County CA
The following is a list of trade associations and publications relevant to lathing & plaster or stucco in Marin County CA:
NPC (National Plasterers Council)
WWCA (Western Wall & Ceiling Contractors Associations)
AWCI (The Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industries)
IMI (International Masonry Institute)
ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials)
EDI (Exterior Design Institute)
MWC (Moisture Warranty Corporation)
APTI (Association for Preservation Technology)
EIMA (EIFS Industry Members Association)
The following are publications relevant to plastering & stucco in San Rafael CA and Marin County
Walls & Ceilings Online
Specialist Building Finishes Magazine
If you are looking for lathing and plaster or stucco, The Prime Buyer's Report provides information for the TOP 10 Plaster & Stucco Contractors in Marin County within the following zip codes:
94914, 94979, 94933, 94957, 94973, 94978, 94950, 94971, 94929, 94948, 94966, 94976, 94915, 94913, 94942, 94912, 94977, 94964, 94938, 94963, 94949, 94939, 94960, 94937, 94956, 94904, 94947, 94930, 94946, 94925, 94941, 94924, 94940, 94970, 94945, 94903, 94901, 94920, 94965 and 94974
The Prime Buyer's Report provides information for the TOP 10 Companies for Plaster & Stucco in Marin County within the following cities:
Bel Marin Keys, Belvedere, Belvedere Tiburon, Black Point, Bolinas, Corte Madera, Dogtown, Fairfax, Greenbrae, Ignacio, Inverness, Kent Woodlands, Kentfield, Larkspur, Marin City, Marinwood, Marshall, Mill Valley, Muir Beach, Muir Woods, Nicasio, Novato, Point Reyes Station, San Anselmo, San Marin, San Quentin, San Rafael, Santa Venetia, Sausalito, Stinson Beach, Strawberry Point, Tamal, Tamalpais Valley, Terra Linda, Tiburon, Dillon Beach, Forest Knolls, Lagunitas, Mission Rafael, Olema, Ross, San Geronimo, Tomales, Woodacre, Almonte, Lucas Valley and Sleepy Hollow