Question: We have not been able to keep paint on the lower parts of our stucco exterior walls. It sloughs off sometimes as much as one-half-inch deep into the stucco. I have used "dry lock," sealer, plaster and paint, but nothing works. Do you have a solution to this problem?
Answer: Without looking at the wall, it's difficult to diagnose it. You live on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, so moisture could be the cause. I would be willing to bet, though, that the moisture is coming from the inside out. This is usually the case when paint refuses to stick to anything, including stucco. Stucco should be repaired in three coats, just as new stucco is applied: The scratch coat (the first one); the brown or second coat and the color, finish or third coat. This is true for all kinds of walls, including stucco over concrete blocks, a common finish in Florida.
You've got to get down to the lath for a permanent repair, but I wouldn't advise doing this kind of work yourself. Many of the stucco walls I see are too close to the ground, so moisture from sprinklers, rain runoff, etc. can seep inside the stucco. Contrary to popular belief, stucco is a very porous material, so some water can infiltrate the color coat. Any suggestions from readers who've had similar problems? I guess we're lucky at our house; we haven't had this problem.