How Long Does This Stucco Paper Last on My 1967 Home? | Q and A

Q and A

In today's Q&A, we're addressing a question from Brad, about the lifespan of his waterproofing paper behind his stucco. He's curious about the durability of the original paper that was used and whether the time has come for replacement.

It's a common concern among owners of older stucco homes, and I'm here to shed light on the longevity of older stucco paper and the factors that could influence the decision to replace it.

Stucco Paper Shown From Inside Wall

Hi Brad,

The waterproofing paper's lifespan on your Southern California home, built in 1967, can vary. Typically, felt paper used in stucco systems of that era tends to be quite durable, often lasting several decades. From the image you've provided, the felt paper does appear to be in reasonable good condition, which is a good sign.

Felt paper from that time, while not as advanced as today's Grade D papers in terms of permeability, was designed to be long-lasting and from my personal experience seem to hold up fine. It's not uncommon for it to hold up well, especially in the Southern California climate, if the stucco has been properly maintained.

It's also important to note that homes built around that time, often used a single-ply paper, rather than the two-ply systems commonly used today. This single layer, while effective for its time, may not provide the same level of protection as modern, more advanced waterproofing methods.

Replacing the paper would involve removing all of the stucco, which is quite an undertaking, both in terms of cost and time. It’s generally not recommended to do this as a preventive measure if there are no signs of water intrusion and as a general rule, if the paper isn't failing, it's often best to leave it in place, as the removal process could inadvertently cause more harm to the fragile paper, not to mention the significant expense that it would incur.

Removing More Drywall: In order to gain a clearer picture of the waterproofing paper's condition throughout your home, you might consider carefully removing a bit more drywall in different areas (if that's possible for what you're doing). This would allow you to inspect the paper's condition in various locations and not just the spot shown in your photo. 

A broader assessment could provide greater insight into whether the paper is holding up or if there are areas of concern that might warrant a more extensive inspection. Just be sure to proceed with caution to avoid any damage to the existing stucco system or the structural integrity of your walls.

Signs of Water Intrusion/Damage: If you're seeing evidence of water damage inside your home, it could be a sign that the waterproofing has been compromised and if that's the case, it would be necessary to replace it to prevent further damage. If you do happen to replace the paper, using two-ply, 60 minute paper would be advisable.

Look for signs of deteriorated paper or holes in the paper or things like water stains, mold, or deterioration of the framing, drywall or the stucco itself.

Considering the age of your home, it might be wise to have a stucco professional conduct a thorough inspection. They can provide a more definitive assessment of the condition of your stucco's waterproofing system and advise whether any action is needed, if you are concerned about it.

Hope this helps, and if you have any further questions, feel free to reach out.

Your Stucco Guy,

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!

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