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What are the Best Tips for Stucco Removal?

By T. L. Childree
Updated May 16, 2024
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Removing stucco from a wall can be a very difficult process. There are some suggestions that can help make the job easier, however. Among the best tips include placing a tarp beneath the work site to catch the falling debris and shorten the clean-up process. If the stucco is being completely removed from the wall, a small sledgehammer and pry bar will usually produce good results. If the stucco is being partially removed to add a window or doorway, a circular saw should be used for more precise results.

A tarp positioned below the work area will help keep nails and broken pieces of stucco and wire mesh from being scattered. After the work has been completed, remove the tarp to dispose of the debris. Remember to cover any delicate plants near the work area with a tarp also. If the vapor barrier is damaged during the stucco removal, it will need to be replaced immediately. Stucco removal can be a very dusty process, so protective glasses and a respirator will probably be needed for each worker.

For complete stucco removal, a small sledgehammer with a short handle should be used to lightly tap the surface. Continue tapping until the stucco begins to crack and break up into large pieces. Pull as many large pieces as possible from the wall by hand. Use a small pry bar to remove any difficult sections. It will probably be necessary to use the pry bar to remove the stucco around the edges of windows, doorways, and corners.

After the stucco has been removed, the wire mesh beneath it will need to be taken away. Pry a small section of the mesh away from the wall and pull the rest off by hand. Stubborn sections of mesh can be removed with the pry bar. Any remaining nails or staples associated with the wire mesh will need to be pulled out until a smooth surface is achieved. If a wooden lathe was used instead of wire mesh, remove it from the wall using the pry bar.

For partial stucco removal, a circular saw equipped with a masonry blade should be used. Set the saw’s blade depth to slightly less than the thickness of the stucco to prevent it from cutting into the underlying wire mesh. If sparks are present when using the saw, the blade is cutting too deeply. Make a pencil outline of the area of stucco and use the saw to cut it. After the cutting is complete, remove the section of stucco with the pry bar and remove the wire mesh beneath it with wire cutters.

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