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How to Remove Stucco

By Henri Bauholz

Stucco is a durable and reasonably priced way to finish the exterior of a building. If for some reason the stucco needs to be replaced, removing the stucco finish is not very difficult at all. By removing the stucco, you can upgrade your home with an attractive wood siding or make way for adding an addition.

Cover the ground beneath your work area with a tarp. Canvas tarps are best. Lay out the tarp so that it covers the plants and ground beneath the stucco wall. When you break up the cement finish it will come down in a thousand little pieces. If you place a tarp on the ground the mess will be much easier to clean up.

Take a short handled 2- or 3-pound sledge hammer and gently tap on the stucco until it breaks up and falls off the side of the building. You do not have to hit the stucco very hard and you can use a flat pry bar to free up those pieces that will not come loose easily.

Pull out the metal mesh. This is what originally held the stucco mixture in place, when it was wet and first being applied. Take a small cat’s paw (that’s a type of small crowbar designed especially for removing nails) and use the rounded end to loosen the wire mesh and pull out any nails that may be holding the wire mesh in place. You can always tap on the cat’s paw with a small carpenter’s hammer to remove a troublesome nail.

Clean up the exterior surface of the building. This means pull out all nails, staples or metal objects that are protruding from the wooden sheathing of the building. If the place where you are working has stucco on top of wood lath, then you will probably want to remove the lath.

Make sure the exterior has a temporary vapor barrier. If there is only exposed wooden sheathing then you should staple some building paper (tar paper) or a plastic covering such as Tarvac to the exterior surface of the building.

Clean up the mess on top of the tarpaulin. This will be mostly the old pieces of stucco that have fallen on top of the protective covering.

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