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How to drill into stucco?

Stucco is a textured plaster often used for interior and exterior walls of buildings due to its durability, cost-effectiveness, and aesthetic.

If you are one of those people who opt for stucco for their homes, the idea of drilling into stucco for any DIY project must be stressful.

While many things can go wrong with drilling into stucco, you need to know the right technique to do this job right. This article will give you a detailed step-by-step guide for drilling different types of holes in stucco.

How to drill into stucco? To drill into stucco, you will need specialized masonry drill bits with carbide or diamond-coated tips. Stucco is a hard & brittle layer of coating wall surfaces, so carbide and diamond tip drill bit can easily scratch into it to make a hole without cracking them. It is not recommended to use the hammering feature when drilling into the front decorative layer.

You need to know the type of stucco used in your house to drill a hole in it without causing any damage.

Read on to identify the type of stucco you are dealing with and the steps you need to follow for drilling into the original stucco.

Types of Stucco:

Stucco is a type of plaster made with cement, sand, water, and lime.

Stucco is applied wet to walls and ceilings, which then hardens to form a decorative coating. This decorative coating is a preferred choice for many as it is very affordable and retains color really well.

You can think of stucco as a man-made stone.

This is why the idea of drilling a hole in stucco can be overwhelming and actually quite tricky if you do not have the right knowledge.

To drill a hole in stucco properly, the first step is to identify the type of stucco used in your house. If you look at different stucco walls, they all look very similar. While it might be hard to tell, two different types of stucco are used in buildings.

You need to know the difference between these two types of stucco to know which type of stucco you are dealing with.

1. Cement Stucco:

How to Drill a Hole into Cement Stucco

This traditional form of stucco is made with Portland cement, water, and aggregates.

Cement stucco is applied over wall sheathing, which is first covered with a water barrier followed by a wire mesh. This wire mesh is what gives cement stucco its incredible rigidness.

Although it looks just the same as synthetic stucco, cement stucco can be identified through its rigidness. If you tap on the wall and it is very rigid with no hollow sound, it means you have original stucco at hand.

This is actually good news as you can easily drill a hole in cement stucco by following the steps given below.

2. Synthetic Stucco:

Synthetic Stucco

This rather new variety of stucco is often referred to as “Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems“(EIFS). In contrast to cement stucco, synthetic stucco consists of acrylic-based products available in buckets applied to cover insulation foam.

It is also different from cement stucco in terms of rigidness. When you apply pressure to it, synthetic stucco is not very rigid to the feel. Also, if you tap on it, it will sound hollow.

If you find out that you are dealing with synthetic stucco, please contact your seller to get specific instructions on drilling a hole in it.

Any attempt to drill into synthetic stucco without following the manufacturer’s specific instructions can not only void its warranty but can also make it susceptible to water damage and mold.

Steps to Drill a Hole in stucco:

The steps and tools you need to utilize to drill a hole in stucco vary depending on the dimensions of the hole you want to drill. However, the very first and most important step before you start the process remains the same.

You need to make sure that there is no pipes or electrical wires present where you want to drill.

The best and foolproof way to do this is to take a look at the building plan. If you do not have the building plan available, look at the surroundings to ensure no pipes or wires are visible near the area.

Now that you are sure that you will not be damaging any wires or pipes, you can continue reading to learn how to drill a hole in stucco.

Steps to Drill a Small Hole in Stucco:

If you want to drill a hole in stucco which is less than 3/8″ in diameter, you can use a carbide/diamond tip masonry drill bit paired with a standard drill.

  1. First of all, measure the position of the hole from the ground using a tape measure. Now mark the position with a pencil for precision.
  2. Mark the depth of the holes using masking tape. Make sure that the hole is only 1/8″ deeper than the length of the screw.
  3. Fit the masonry bit in the standard drill.
  4. Hold the drill perpendicular to the wall and start drilling at a slow speed. Once the bit is inside the stucco, apply firm pressure but make sure you are applying pressure only when you feel no resistance.
  5. Once you have drilled the desired depth, reverse the drill’s direction to remove the bit from the stucco.
  6. Remove debris from the hole using compressed air.
  7. Apply stucco caulk in the hole and insert the anchor.

Steps to Drill a Bigger Hole in Stucco:

To drill a hole in stucco, which is more than 3/8″ in diameter, you will need a hammer drill. Once again, you will be using a carbide/diamond-tipped masonry bit.

  1. Start by measuring and marking the position of the hole to ensure precision. Now mark the depth of the hole using masking tape.
  2. Fix the masonry bit in the drill and make sure the hammer feature is selected on the drill.
  3. Hold the drill perpendicular to the wall and start drilling.
  4. Apply pressure to the drill only if you experience no resistance.
  5. Once you have drilled your desired depth, reverse the drill direction to remove the bit from the stucco.
  6. Clean the drilled hole with compressed air.
  7. Apply some acrylic caulk and insert the anchor.

Steps to Drill a Round Hole in Stucco:

 Steps to Drill a Round Hole in Stucco

While installing a dryer or exhaust fan vent, you will need to drill a round hole in stucco.

It sounds like a tough job, but carbide hole-saw bit can actually make it much simpler. Since you will be cutting a large area from a very tough material, it is recommended to use a hammer drill.

  1. Find the diameter for the round hole you need to drill. Select your hole-saw bit accordingly. For example, you will need a 4-inch hole-saw carbide bit for a 4-inch vent pipe.
  2. Measure the location of the hole and mark its center on the wall using a pencil.
  3. Fix the hole-saw bit in the drill and select the hammer feature on the drill.
  4. Position the cutting edge of the hole-saw bit over the hole location. Hold the drill perpendicular to the wall.
  5. Drill through the stucco and the underlying material slowly. For evenly cutting the hole, apply even pressure to the drill.
  6. Use an air hose or turkey blaster to clean the dust from the hole. Now use a damp cloth to wipe off any remaining dust.
  7. Install the pipe,

Tips for Drilling Stucco:

  1. Choose the size of your hole carefully. If the hole is too small for the screw, you can damage the stucco while forcing the screw through it. On the other hand, if the hole is too big, the screw will wobble.
  2. Use stainless steel screws which are easily available at hardware stores. These screws will save you the trouble of dealing with rusty screws.
  3. If you want to drill a hole into stucco, make sure you have the right safety equipment at hand. Safety goggles are one important piece of safety equipment you must use as there will be a lot of debris during the process. Using gloves can also prevent your hands from getting cuts and scrapes.
  4. Keep your drill bit cool by dipping it into a cup of cold water.
  5. Although all of these holes can be drilled with a standard drill, using a hammer drill reduces the chance of rough results and damaged stucco.
  6. If you hit the wire mesh, the result can be a bit messy. Don’t worry and read on to fix this situation.

How to Repair Damaged Stucco?

Although the chances of damaging stucco while following the instructions given above are low, accidents can happen.

If stucco on your wall is damaged and flaking off, you can easily deal with it as long as there are no huge cracks, in which case you might need to hire a professional to fix it.

If there are cracks or flakes around the stucco hole you can use stucco caulk to even them out.

If you find crumbling around the hole, clear out the loose parts, apply new paper, and apply multiple stucco repair coats.

Related Questions:

Can I hammer a hole into Stucco?

You cannot hammer a hole into stucco without damaging it. Stucco is a tricky material to deal with even when you are using the right tools, and trying to hammer into it is not recommended.

Having a cordless drill at hand will help you in drilling a hole in stucco and ease a variety of hefty tasks around the house.

I have compiled a list of best drills for home use, which can be a good place to start your search for a drill.

Can I hang things on Stucco?

Even though it might seem like hanging anything heavy will damage the stucco, cement stucco can actually support quite heavy loads. Like I said before, it is an artificial stone we are dealing with.

In EIFS, you need to be careful with heavy loads as the anchor holes can enlarge with time and cause water damage.