Stucco Nails | What You Need To Know!

Stucco Nails Resource Guide

Stucco wire is usually attached to a wall using staples, but nails can also be used as an effective alternative for attaching the wire. While there is a vast array of nails available, stucco applications require a specific type of nail, with particular attention to its length, and special coatings that can withstand moisture.

What Are Stucco Nails?

Stucco nails are specifically engineered to securely anchor the wire mesh of both three-coat and one-coat stucco systems to the wall, providing a strong foundation for the base coats and finish coat layers of the stucco system to adhere properly to each other, ensuring structural stability of the wall.

Corrosion Resistance: These nails must be corrosion-resistant to withstand the elements and ensure the longevity of the stucco work, especially since stucco is cement-based and typically absorbs water, which tends to accelerate corrosion related issues.

Nail Length: The length of the nail is also important and will depend on a couple of different factors. It needs to be long enough to hold the wire securely in place and penetrate the stud or wall enough to provide a strong bond.

Nail Head Size: They also need to have a larger head to securely hold the wire lath in place, a critical factor in maintaining the structural integrity of the stucco system that oftentimes gets overlooked.

Why Use Stucco Nails?

Nailing off the stucco wire offers an alternative for those of you out there who don't have access to a compressor, hose, and lathing staple gun setup, which can be a costly investment, especially if you only have a small to medium-sized stucco patch or project you are working on. 

Opting for nailing the wire off instead is a cost-effective and more efficient method than stapling it off, when taking those things into consideration.

What Nails Are Used For Stucco?

There are several types of nails that are used for stucco, but the three most common ones are roofing nails, masonry nails and snub nails. Each nail is suited for a specific application, more specifically the material that you are nailing into...

  • Roofing Nails: Commonly used in both three coat stucco systems (1-1/2 inch length) and one coat stucco systems (2-1/2 inch length) where wood framing is used.
  • Masonry Nails: These nails are hardened and are ideal for attaching stucco wire to concrete and cinder block walls.
  • Stub Nails: Used for the same applications as masonry nails, but are much shorter so they will be less likely to bend when driving them into the wall.

Roofing Nails for Wood Framed Walls:

Roofing Nails 2

Nowadays, most walls are wood framed and use wooden studs as support for the walls. A simple roofing nail is usually the best choice for these types of walls due to their broad, flat heads and shorter length, which provide strong holding power without splitting the wood.

For three coat stucco systems a 1 1/2" nail would be used and for a thicker one coat stucco system a 2" nail is better suited for the added depth that the foam adds to the system.

Masonry Nails for Cinderblock and Concrete Walls:

Masonry Nail

Masonry nails are specifically designed for use when attaching wire to harder materials like cinder block and concrete walls. These nails are made from hardened steel, which helps when hammering them into these tougher materials, which makes them less likely to break or bend.

When using these in hard, cured concrete, you might need to drill a pilot hole first because I have had many experiences where the nail would not bite into the concrete.

Stub Nails for Masonry & Concrete Walls:

Snub Nails

Stub nails are very similar to masonry nails, but are much shorter and provide rust protection. They are still made from hardened steel though so they are just as tough but with them being shorter, they are much less likely to bend or break.

You will need to use a magnetic punch or tin snips to hold the nail in place while you hammer it into the wall because they are so short, which requires a bit of patience and skill to do.

Choosing the Right Stucco Nails

Selecting the right nail for your stucco system and circumstances is crucial to ensure that the wire being attached to the wall will stay there for decades to come.

Factors like rust resistance, using a long enough nail for the stucco system you are installing or have installed and using a large enough nail head size are three key items you need to really consider, in order to maintain a secure connection of the wire to the wall.

Factors to Consider When Selecting Nails:

Rust Resistance: It's crucial for stucco nails to be rust-resistant, especially since stucco is often used in exterior applications where nails are exposed to moisture and varying weather conditions.

Rust can weaken the nails, compromising the structural integrity of the stucco. Typically, stucco nails are made from galvanized steel or other corrosion-resistant materials, which makes them last a lot longer than other nails that do not have this type of protection.

Using the Proper Length Nail: The length of the nail is an important detail and will usually depend on the type of stucco system being used. For a traditional 3 coat stucco system, the nails need to penetrate through the shear (if installed) and into the stud a good amount, to maintain a good hold of the wire to the structural framing of the wall. A nail length of 1-1/4" - 1-1/2 inches will usually work well for this.

If you were using a 1 coat stucco system, which is thicker, due to the 1" foam that is used, you would need to install longer nails to be able to penetrate the studs in the wall. I would recommend using a 2-1/2" nail for this system because it will penetrate the stud enough to provide a structural hold.

Roofing Nail Stud Penetration

Holding Down the Wire – Nail Head Size: The size of the nail head plays a significant role in holding down the wire too. A larger nail head provides a broader surface area to grip and hold the wire in place, which is essential for keeping the wire pinned in place and attached to the structural parts of the wall.

Roofing Nail Holding Stucco Wire 2

Purchasing Stucco Nails

Purchasing nails in-store offers the convenience of immediate availability, which is ideal if you need them in a hurry.

However, buying nails online opens up a wider range of options in terms of coatings available, lengths, and more competitive pricing, thanks to a broader selection of manufacturers, ensuring you almost always find the exact nail you need.

Buying Nails In-store: Purchasing nails at a local hardware store or a big box home improvement retailer typically means finding the nails you need or a suitable alternative if the exact length isn't available. These stores often stock nails in various quantities, from 1-pound to 5-pound containers or even larger quantities, for certain lengths of nails.

You might find that the nail you need is out of stock or sold out, which is a situation I have encountered before and had to buy a longer nail than what I was looking for.

Buying Nails Online: Purchasing nails online typically offers the advantage of finding the precise type and length of nail needed for your project, closely matching the price you would expect to pay in a physical store, but you may have to wait several days (in some cases) to get them.

Online retailers provide a vast selection, often featuring a more extensive range of sizes and types than what might be available in local stores, which increases the likelihood of finding the exact nail you need.

There are usually a few different manufacturers that sell nails online, so you can usually find a decent price, if you look around a bit.

FAQ's About Stucco Nails:

In this section, I will address some of the most commonly asked questions regarding stucco nails that seem to come up

What Are the Best Types of Nails for Stucco?

Answer: The best nails for stucco are usually galvanized nails. 1-1/2" roofing nails are typically used for three coat stucco systems and one coat (insulated) stucco systems will use a longer, 2-1/2" nail. For concrete and cinder block walls, masonry nails or stub nails are more appropriate due to their design and strength, with the ideal length of the nail being somewhere around 5/8" - 1".

Can I Use Regular Nails for Stucco?

Answer: Regular nails are not recommended for stucco applications because they tend to rust very quickly and could compromise the integrity of the nail and the stucco wire. The wire would then not be attached to the wall and there would be no support for the stucco base coats and finish coats.

About the author

The Stucco Guy

My name is Ryan and I have been a licensed stucco contractor for many years and I feel that there is a huge "knowledge gap" when it comes to stucco, in particular. I hope you find the information here useful, and if you have a question for me fill out this Q & A form, so I can answer those questions better. Thanks for stopping by!

Leave a comment here or if you have a question that needs to be answered, fill out my Q and A form (link in author bio box above) to give me a clear picture of what's going on. Thanks for stopping by!: