Stucco Textures & Finishes, A Visual Aid

Stucco Textures And Finishes

There are a few different stucco textures that can be achieved and taking a look at all of them can give you a general idea of what to expect and maybe even help you decide on which one you want to use on your house.

These are just a few examples of what is out there, some of the more popular ones anyway and each one has its own unique characteristics and style. Some textures work better to achieve an overall look and feel like a smooth texture for a Mediterranean look or a sand finish for a more modern look.

Cat Face Textures:

A cat face texture is smooth with smaller to larger rough areas in between, as you can see in the pictures below. These are known as inclusions and can vary in size, shape and how often they are used throughout the finish.

  • Can be created using an acrylic/synthetic OR traditional type of stucco finish material
  • Can vary greatly, depending on how large and close inclusions are in relation to each other
  • Achieved using two coats of finish
  • Can be troweled on or sprayed on, but always is finished off by hand
  • Usually done in either a fine or medium stucco product
Catface Texture Example 1
Catface Stucco Texture In Traditional Finish

A Few Dash Finishes:

This finish is sprayed on and can be light, medium or heavy in volume and has it’s own unique look. This texture can be applied by hand (for smaller areas) or sprayed on using a small hopper gun or a large one.

* Two to three coats are usually applied in order to achieve a uniform coat.

Dash finishes can range from a fine type of finish (shown below) to a heavier finish and really is dependent upon the material being used and the person applying it to the wall.

The three below are the most common types and there are different variations between these and will have slightly different looks but are basically the same type of finish.

  • Both synthetic and traditional stucco finishes can be used to get this particular texture
  • Easily patched, providing that the color matches up correctly
  • It is a rough texture after it dries and hardens, which may be a problem for some people
  • One person can apply this type of texture with no seams and minimal amount of work
  • Is applied using more air pressure (fine), an even amount of air and material (medium) or more material and less air (heavy texture)
Fine Dash Finish

Fine Dash Finish

Heavy Dash Finish

Heavy Dash Finish

Knockdown Dash Finish

Knockdown Dash Finish

Heavy Dash Finish

A Heavy Dash Finish

Lace And Skip Trowel Textures:

These textures are one of the most common and are typically what is ingrained in most people’s minds when the think of stucco.

This texture can hide many imperfections and is great for virtually any application, residential or commercial.

There are many different variations of this finish, which can give off different subtle finished looks but they are all applied the same way and are essentially the same texture.

  • Traditional stucco is more common when it comes to this finish, but it can be done in an acrylic, but it will not have the depth that traditional stucco will

  • Applied by hand in most cases, but can be sprayed on and then “knocked down” (flattened) using a trowel

  • Can hide many imperfections and is a great “forgiving” texture

  • Is applied in two coats, a base coat and then the texture is applied

  • Comes in a fine, medium and coarse pattern
Example Of Fine Lace Texture
Another Example Of Fine Lace Texture (1)
Fine Lace Texture Example

Fine Lace Texture

Stucco Lace Texture Example

Sand/Float Finishes:

This is a basic and simple kind of texture that is popular in commercial applications.

It can be fine, medium or coarse in appearance and varies depending on the manufacturer. It is troweled down and finished using a float and quick strokes.

  • Is a very versatile finish and can be done using traditional or synthetic/acrylic stucco

  • Can be applied in one coat and is one of the easiest to apply

  • Is usually troweled on, but can be sprayed on and then troweled down tight

  • A “green float” gives the finish its texture

  • Found in fine, medium and coarse finishes

  • Relatively easy to patch if color matches up and edges are feathered in nicely
Fine Sand Finish

Fine Sand Finish

Medium Sand Finish

Medium Sand Finish

Coarse Sand Finish

Coarse Sand Finish

Medium Sand Finish With Acrylic Stucco

Medium Sand Finish With Acrylic Stucco

Sand Finish With Modeling In Base Coat

Sand Finish With Modeling In Base Coat

Smooth Textures & Finishes:

These are one of the most difficult textures to achieve, but is growing in popularity.

It is the easiest to clean and is very customizable due to the fact that different colors can be added to get a “mottled look”.

  • Is usually a fine cement based finish, but can be achieved using a synthetic/acrylic stucco finish too

  • Usually a fine/ultra fine stucco base material is used to eliminate as many lines as possible, but a medium will also work in some cases

  • Achieved using a “swimming pool trowel” or a “pool” trowel

  • Colors can be added directly to the wall to achieve a “mottled” look

  • Is very hard to patch and has a tendency to crack more than other finishes

A Very Smooth Finish

Another Smooth-Stucco-Finish

Smooth Finish With Aggregate

A Smooth White Stucco Finish
A Good Smooth Stucco Example

Notice the Trowel Marks on the Wall

Worm/Swirl Or Putz Finishes:

These are basically finishes that have larger pieces of aggregate in them that when trowels, leave little groove like indentations in the texture.

It is not a very common finish that is used nowadays, but is interesting to look at.

It is hard to tell that a house has this type of texture until you take a closer look at it.

  • Is usually a synthetic stucco finish and uses special materials (synthetic stucco mix that uses special aggregates in it) that must be used in order to achieve the texture

  • Comes in a fine, medium or coarse pattern that is shown below

  • Not a very popular finish, but different than most others in the lineup

  • Hard to patch and hard to apply

  • Is applied by hand and rubbed around in a circular motion to achieve the desired finish, most of the time using a plastic trowel (EIFS trowel)
Swirl Finish Acrylic Stucco

Santa Barbara Finish:

This is like a smooth finish, but is a special material that uses much smaller sand particles to achieve the finished look.

This look is made to resemble an older adobe style home and is irregular (hand-done) in nature.

The finished look can have slight color variations, due to the cement based nature of the product, which you can fog coat or paint later for a more uniform color.

  • Is usually a traditional type of stucco material

  • Is smooth when applied and dries

  • Is applied in two coats using a pool trowel

  • Is difficult to apply and patch
A Santa Barbara Smooth Finish AIn A Darker Color

An English Stucco Finish, Anyone?

English stucco finishes/textures are less common than some of the other types of finishes but are still found on some newer construction projects but are typically found on older buildings.

This finish is typically done with a traditional type of finish and usually not an acrylic, but would still be achievable for both types of materials.

  • Variations are different among individual applications

  • A little easier to patch than some other finishes

  • A less common type of finish, usually found on older buildings
English Stucco Finish 1
Another English Stucco Finish 1
A Third English Stucco Texture

Other Custom Finishes:

Some finishes are what I would call a more custom finish and these usually will have some sort of modeling that is done in the brown coat (base coat).

The image below shows what I mean, as you can see the bumps in the wall that were put in the base coat. These types of finishes will almost always have some sort of sand finish on top of them.

Custom Stucco Finish
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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