How To Drill Into Stucco

How To Drill Into Stucco

If you want to drill through stucco, you might stop and wonder if you really can drill through it as well as how to get it done with the least amount of stress.

After all, stucco does seem to be like concrete, which can make the idea of drilling through it a bit overwhelming.

What, exactly, is stucco?

Stucco is a plaster that’s made with water, binder, and aggregates such as sand. It gets applied wet to ceilings or walls, and then hardens. It’s mainly used as a decorative coating.

When drilling into stucco, one of the problems that can arise is that pieces of it flake off, leaving you with an ugly result.

The good news is that you can drill holes into stucco without that happening, but you need to ensure that you follow the right tips. Here’s a crash course on how to drill into stucco.

There Two Types Of Stucco

two types of stucco

Although you might think all stucco is the same, there are actually two different types of it. Here’s the lowdown on them.

  • Cement-based stucco. This is also known as the traditional kind of stucco. It’s usually used to cover wall sheathing. Traditional stucco is made with water, Portland cement, sand, and lime.
  • Exterior Insulation Finishing System (EIFS). This is synthetic stucco and can be used to cover foam insulation. EIFS stucco is made with foam, synthetic stucco, fiberglass mesh, and a top coat that seals it all up.

How To Tell The Difference Between Traditional And Synthetic Stucco

Although the two types of stucco are quite different from each other, they look the same when installed. It can be difficult to tell them apart.

But here’s a trick. When you press on the stucco, the traditional variety will remain rigid. It also won’t sound hollow when tapped. The synthetic stucco, on the other hand, will feel a bit softer and will sound hollow.

In addition, if you have a hole in the stucco, such as a hole that you made to attach a light fixture to it, you might see mesh. This signals that you’re dealing with traditional stucco.

The presence of foam, on the other hand, is a sign that you’ve got synthetic stucco.

Can You Drill Through Both Kinds Of Stucco?

drilling through both types of stucco

Although you can indeed drill through cement-based stucco, you shouldn’t go ahead and drill into EIFS without first contacting the manufacturer.

Although this sounds like a frustrating thing to do, it’s very important. Here’s why.

If you drill into synthetic stucco in a way that the manufacturer doesn’t specify as being appropriate for the stucco, this could void its warranty, leaving your home susceptible to issues such as mildew, as SFGate reports.

Once you have heard from the manufacturer, follow their tips for drilling into the stucco by the letter so that you do it correctly and safely, without causing it to become damaged.

How To Drill Into Stucco

Now that you’ve determined that you’ve got cement stucco, you can go ahead and drill through it without a hassle. Here are some easy steps to follow.

What you’ll need:

  • Pencil
  • Measuring tape
  • Drill
  • Turkey baster

Step One: Measure Your Holes

If you’re going to be drilling more than one hole in the stucco, you want to ensure that you measure them properly so that they will be done at the right points along the stucco wall.

Mark them with a pencil to make the drilling process easier and prevent mistakes.

Step Two: Get The Right Bit

Now, you might be wondering what kind of drill bit is best suited for drilling through stucco. A masonry bit is a good one to try because it is suitable for hard surfaces such as concrete.

Make sure you choose a bit that is of the right size so that it matches the size that the hole needs to be.

If it’s too small, you’re going to have to try to push it into the stucco, which could damage it and cause it to crumble.

If your bit is too big for the hole, on the other hand, then the screw will wobble and not remain securely in place.

Step Three: Time To Use Your Drill!

steps on how to drill stucco walls

Now, if you’re drilling through cement-based stucco, you’ll need a hammer drill.

Press the masonry bit on the pencil mark you’ve made on the stucco and then switch on the hammer drill trigger. Hold the drill firmly and push it forward against the mark.

Once you start drilling, avoid the tendency to push too much. You should only do so when you feel no resistance.

Step Four: Remove Dust

If there’s dust in the hole you’ve just made with the drill, avoid blowing it out with your mouth as that can cause the dust to fly back into your face and get into your eyes.

Rather use a turkey baster to do this.

Extra Tips And Tricks

Once you’ve completed the above steps, you will have successfully drilled holes into stucco.

Sounds easy enough, right?

Yes, but there are some things you need to consider and plan ahead for as you might encounter them along the way.

Let’s take a look at them.

What To Do If The Stucco Flakes Off

If you find that drilling a hole in the stucco has caused it to flake, the culprit could be wire mesh that’s inside the stucco.

Remember, traditional stucco contains mesh and that can show up when you drill a hole in it. If this is what you’re dealing with, you’ll need to get some stucco caulk to fix the problem.

Remove any dirt from the hole, then make the area look neater by spreading the caulk around the crumbling parts.

You’ll need to let the caulk dry for two hours.

Signs You Need To Repair Stucco, And How

time to reapir stucco

There are many things that can damage stucco. Drilling into damaged stucco would probably highlight these problems.

Here are two types of stucco damage and how to repair them.

Stucco That’s Crumbling And Falling Apart

When dealing with unsightly areas of stucco that are loose or missing, you’ll need to replace them.

You can do this by removing the loose parts of the stucco, then installing building paper and metal lath, and, finally, painting three coats of your chosen stucco repair product, as The Balance reports.

You can make your own stucco but it’s better to choose one that’s already been mixed and is of a high quality if you’re not into DIY or don’t have much time.

However, in the next section we’ll outline how you can make your own traditional stucco, and it’s really not a difficult process!

Stucco That Has Suffered Water Damage

stucco damaged with moist and water

If stucco has suffered water damage, this will show up early on in the form of bumps along the surface. Other signs of water damage in stucco include water stains, cracks around windows, and holes.

Before you repair the stucco, make sure you deal with the cause of the water, otherwise it will happen again. Examples of water damage causes include leaking air conditioners or pipes.

Now that you’ve sorted out the cause of the water problem, you can go ahead and repair your traditional stucco with one you make yourself!

Here’s how.

What you’ll need:

  • Wheelbarrow
  • Sand
  • Hydrated lime
  • Portland cement
  • Hoe
  • Garden hose


  1. In a wheelbarrow, mix together five gallons of clean, fine sand with a gallon of hydrated lime. Wear a face mask so you don’t breathe in the lyme’s dust.
  2. Put a quart of Portland cement into the mixture, and mix it well with the use of a hoe.
  3. With your garden hose, slowly add water to the mixture. Keep stirring it with your hoe to give it a pudding-like consistency. That’s when you know it’s ready, as Hunker reports.

Tip: It’s important to use the stucco after you’ve mixed it so that it’s damp when you apply it. If it starts to dry out, add a bit more water to keep it moist.

How To Apply The Stucco

You’ll need:

  • Mason’s chisel
  • Hammer
  • Finishing trowel
  • Notched trowel
  • Sponge
  • Screed


  1. With the use of a mason’s chisel and hammer, carefully knock off any loose or damaged stucco.
  2. Coat the damaged area with the DIY stucco you’ve made with the use of a finishing trowel.
  3. Once your first coat has been applied, run a notched trowel through it. This texture will ensure that further coats you apply stick to it better.
  4. Leave that first coat to dry for about 24 hours.
  5. Once that time is up, dip a sponge into water and gently apply it to the area you’ve painted with the stucco mixture. This will help the next coat of stucco to stick to it.
  6. The next layer of stucco needs to be applied in an even manner. Screed the mixture to make it smooth, as Realtor reports.
  7. Apply the final coat.
  8. Paint the stucco to hide the previously damaged area from view so that the stucco looks even all over.

Since stucco tends to change color over many years, your new DIY stucco might not match the old one.

This is another good reason to opt for painting it all over when you’re done.

What’s The Difference Between Stucco And Mortar? 

bricks with mortar

Stucco and mortar are quite similar.

They both contain cement but are used differently in construction. Mortar is used as parging for brick, stone, and block construction, while stucco is a wall covering, as Concrete Construction explains.

When drilling through mortar, the process is a little different from what you’d do with stucco. You need to use a masonry bit that’s designed for drilling into concrete and brick.

You can spot it at the hardware store because it has a triangular head.

The mortar is the joint between bricks – this is where you will drill, not directly into the brick as that will be difficult to do and can damage the brick by causing cracks, as Fox News reports.

Related Questions

What is Portland cement?

regular portland cement

You might be wondering if Portland cement is the same as regular cement.

It is indeed, and it’s the most widely used cement you can find. It’s made from chalk and clay that becomes hard when water is put on it.

When it hardens, it looks like Portland stone, hence its name.

Why is stucco susceptible to water damage?

If the stucco hasn’t been properly installed, this can prevent it from being sealed well enough around windows and doors, which can cause drops of water to accumulate.

Therefore, it’s essential to get your stucco installed properly the first time.

Can you hang items on both kinds of stucco walls?

Cement stucco is highly durable so you won’t have a problem with hanging heavy items on it, such as paintings.

EIFS is acrylic-based so it isn’t going to be as durable. That’s something to bear in mind if you’re going to be drilling a hole into stucco in order to hang items from it.


Drilling through stucco isn’t a DIY task that should worry you, as long as you have the right tools in your shed.

With the tips and tricks that we’ve featured in this article for how to drill into stucco, you’ll be well on your way to making DIY adjustments to your home and using your stucco walls to display lovely wall art – without the negative consequences.

But first, it’s essential to know if your stucco is traditional or synthetic as drilling into them will differ depending on how they’ve been made.

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