1 Coat vs 3 Coat Stucco Proces: Understanding the Difference

Posted on: July 22, 2022

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What’s a stucco anyway? That’s a good place to start before we talk about a 1-coat stucco in comparison to the original 3-coat. Stucco is a fine plaster that’s applied as decorative finishing for wall surfaces. They are familiar terms utilized by building contractors. It’s also used by those who do masonry repair in Tulsa OK.

The 3-Coat Stucco Process

Paper and Wire

The 3-coat system is the oldest method of stucco and it’s still used to this very day. First, there’s felt paper soaked in asphalt and chicken wire spread over it.

Scratch Coat

Then, it’s covered with mortar or a mix of cement, sand, lime, and water. This mixture is called a scratch coat. It’s pumped through a hose and sprayed on the initial layer to a thickness of up to 7 inches, just enough to embed the paper-and-wire sheet. A trowel can be used for small areas instead of a spray. The scratch coat will then have to be leveled, but not smoothly for bonding. This will need to dry from 2 to 5 days. 

Brown Coat

After that, the process will then be ready for the next step: the brown coat of plaster. It’s a simple 3:1 mix of sand and cement sprayed on the exterior. A little more care is used to make sure the mortar is evenly distributed and the result is not as rough as the scratch coat. Again, the thickness is up to 7 inches but the curing period for this phase takes 1-2 weeks.

Finish or Top Coat
Finally, there’s the top coat with the desired color mixed into the plaster. Instead of pumping this final layer onto the surface, it’s spread over the surface by hand and a trowel making sure it has the look of sandpaper when done. The finished stucco could also be in other different textures: smooth, dash, orange peel, cat face, or Spanish lace. For special stucco designs, it can be done by consulting your brick contractors in Tulsa OK.

1-Coat Stucco

The descriptive name for this process is actually inaccurate. This method only shortens the length of time of the building project by merging the scratch, brown, and color coat stages. Because of this, the job can be completed in just a few days. The entire process is still comprised of different building phases but is no longer done separately because of the premixed blend of mortar that’s used.

Pros & Cons

Three Coat Stucco – The biggest plus for this original way of doing things is the strength and durability of what you’re putting up. It’s considerably thicker and is naturally better protection against wear and tear. On the other side of the coin, there are only two obvious drawbacks: it takes longer to complete and it’s more expensive.

One Coat Stucco – It goes without saying that all one needs to do for this sub-heading is to turn the 3-coat advantages into negatives and the disadvantages into positives. Anyway, let’s bring them to the fore. This process is faster to complete, more cost-effective, and requires less labor. On the flip side, the finished product is thinner and can be damaged easily.

Let the Professionals Do It


The choice of either a 3-coat stucco or a 1-coat stucco will depend entirely on what you envision for the project, how soon it needs to be done, and the budget you’re working on. It will also rely a great deal on the expert advice you’ll be getting. If you’re considering masonry repair in Tulsa OK, contact Brick 1 Masonry for professional masonry construction.