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A Brief Overview Of The Lath Process In Stucco

A Brief Overview Of The Lath Process In Stucco

Lath is simply the first step in the stucco process. It consists of water resistant paper, wire and other metal components that make up the essential “framework” for the cement to be adhered to.

Lath is simply the first step in the stucco process. It consists of water resistant paper, wire and other metal components that make up the essential “framework” for the cement to be adhered to.

Lath is simply the first step in the stucco process. It consists of water resistant paper, wire and other metal components that make up the essential “framework” for the cement to be adhered to.

Different Types Of Stucco Wire:

The wire comes in various types and styles to match specific commercial, residential and personal specifications that one may encounter. There are also different gauges of wire, meaning the thickness of the wire itself. Stucco wire is thicker and stronger than say “chicken or poultry wire” and is furred, meaning it sticks out of the wall a little bit, to allow the cement to “key” in to the wire better.

Three Coat And One Coat Stucco Systems:

Typically, 17 gauge wire is stronger than 20 gauge wire, the smaller the gauge “number” the stronger the wire, and is usually used in three coat stucco systems. The lighter-weight 20 gauge wire is used for a one coat stucco system. The three coat system uses a “scratch coat”, a “brown coat” and then a “finish coat” in the plastering process, hence the reason why it is called a “three coat system”. A one coat system uses Styrofoam in place of the “scratch coat”, then a “brown coat”, then the “finishing coat”. There are more than one coats of cement, but this system is referred to as a “one coat system”.

Corner Aid, Weep Screed, Etc.

There are other pieces included within the lathing stages that are equally important as the paper and wire itself. These are made out of similar materials and are essentially “stopping points” for the stucco to end on a wall. For example, corner aid is used on corners to help the cement mixture stick and it adds a lot of strength on an otherwise weak area of the house.

Plaster Stop:

The Plaster J Stop is actually a shaped metal product, that can be found in Copper, Aluminum, Stainless Steel, and Galvanized Steel. It is a termination point for stucco which is available with or with out 3/16″ Weep Holes.Plaster Stop

Connect Plaster Stop to the framework with nails, anchoring screws, or some other approved fastening techniques. Each and every installation of the Plaster Stop needs to be evaluated to look for the best placement of the weather resistive barriers (Vertical and Horizontal Installation vary in their positioning of the paper). Lath should completely cover the attachment flange.

The Plaster Stop is available in 10′ lengths and may be ordered in a number of ground sizes. The attachment flange (dimension “A”) and the Ground Leg (dimension “B”) can be bought in multiple dimensions and specialty widths. Typically the Plaster Key (dimension “C”) is 3/16″ standardized, but can be purchased in a larger dimension, relative to the other 2 flanges’ measurements. Please indicate the dimensions needed when you order.

Weep Screed:

Weep screed is found at the bottom of walls and has many holes in it to allow for proper water drainage. It comes in two different styles: 90 degree angle and a 30 degree angle. The two are used for both three and one coat stucco applications and come in different sizes. Here is a good link that describes it in more detail: weep screed article

Expansion Joint:

An expansion joint is used to break up the stucco in order to lessen the chances of cracking. It can be very wide (3″ or more), but for most residential applications, it is somewhere around 5/16 of an inch wide. It is usually painted to match the color of the stucco and is need where there is an area of stucco greater that 100 square feet or more. Walls without natural breaks (such as windows and doors) will have a far greater chance of developing cracks without implementing an expansion joint.

Arch Aid:

Arch aid acts the same way corner aid does, it simply bends to conform to arches and curves. It can be a bit trick to install and does take some skill to master, but will make all the difference in the world around corners and archways.

Corner Aid:

Corner aid is used on corners and edges that need to be defined and strengthened. It comes in two different styles, bullnose and straight. The straight forms a 90 degree angle and the bullnose is designed for rounded corners. They come in 10 ‘ lengths and are usually installed with staples or nails.

Nails And Staples:

In order to fasten the metal lath to the substrate (plywood, masonry, etc.) you will need to either nail or staple the wire to the substrate itself. Typically, staples are used to do this, along with a staple gun and a compressor. It is also possible to nail the wire off by hand for smaller areas, or to hang the wire, plaster stop, weep screed and/or corner aid. For larger areas, a stapler should be used as it will save a lot of time, but is not mandatory. All fasteners should be galvanized or at least rated for exterior use to prevent corrosion from taking place.

Nails are a great way to quickly hang wire and other lath components quickly and accurately. There are a few types used in stucco applications and becoming familiar with each type can be very helpful.

  • Dog eared nails (or furred nails) are not really used anymore, because the wire itself is furred. These nails were used a few decades ago to help hold the wire off of the wall itself. They should only be used if you are doing a remodel that uses these types of nails, otherwise don’t bother with them.
  • Here are some examples of modern nails that are used today:
  • Staples are used more often than not and are a quick way to attach the wire to the substrate. There are specifics on the size of the staple, including the length of the staple and the size of the crown, check with your local building department. You will also need a small compressor and staple gun to shoot these in.

Stucco Paper:

The paper is actually coated with an asphalt that is resistant to water and moisture. Is available in a couple of thicknesses and can be found in a one or two ply roll. Attach with a stapler that is made for roofing applications. Arrow makes great staplers and has a variety of staple sizes.

Home Depot Links For Pricing Out The Lath Project:

Other Helpful Links On Lathing:

  • Nailing the wire off, hanging weep, etc.

About the Author The Stucco Guy

My name is Ryan and I have been in the construction trades for many years now and I feel that there is a huge "knowledge gap" when it comes to particular trades.... like stucco. I made this site to inform others about the simplicity of the art and that many people can do stucco themselves, if they put their minds to it. I hope you find the information here useful and please don't hesitate to contact me by leaving a comment. Thanks for stopping by!

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