Stucco wire is a type of metal mesh used to help give support and strength to stucco walls and other structures. It can be thought of as a sort of industrial-strength chicken wire, and it sometimes is mistaken as such. Although it is commonly used in construction, it has found popularity in other fields for its structural properties.
This type of wire is characterized by holes that are 1-2 inches (2.5-5.1 cm) wide in a metal mesh. It usually is made of wire that has either been twisted together, similar to the construction of a chain link fence, or laid in a weave pattern and then welded at the joints. The strength and malleability of the mesh will vary, depending both on how it is constructed and the gauge of the wire used to make it — wire that is twisted will tend to be bent more easily than that which has been welded. In addition, most modern stucco wire is galvanized in order to resist corrosion from the stucco material.
One common misconception about stucco wire is that it is the same material as chicken wire. The two are indeed similar in appearance and have some common uses, but there are a few key differences. Chicken wire is generally used for fencing small animals or crops and small-scale construction projects that require flexibility but not excessive strength. Stucco wire, on the other hand, is intended for industrial construction and needs to be more robust and big enough to cover entire walls. It therefore is usually made of a heavier-gauge wire and sold in much larger rolls than chicken wire.
The primary application of stucco wire is in the construction of stucco-covered walls and siding. The wire mesh is usually attached to a wooden frame with special nails or screws that suspend the stucco wire slightly offset from the wall. This configuration allows the stucco to bond with the stone or other material through the holes in the mesh while also providing structural support during the drying process. After the stucco has hardened, the wire structure inside it will help prevent cracking.
Outside of construction, stucco wire is popular among many set designers and sculpture artists because it holds its shape well and is relatively light. These qualities make it useful for constructing the framework for large-scale pieces that might otherwise be too heavy to handle. The mesh is also sometimes used for household purposes, such as protecting gardens from pests.