Finishing Techniques for Stucco and Trowels


Stucco is a thick material, almost the consistency of cake batter, that can be used either on inside or outside walls to protect stone, brick and wood from the elements. Stucco can also be used to create a number of different looks and effects when it's applied with a trowel, if you have the time and dedication to practice them before working on your house.

Smooth Finish

  • Used most often in the interior, a smooth stucco finish is just a stucco coat that is troweled to a smooth and even tone. There aren't any bumps or ridges, and it can seem like a stone wall that's smooth to the touch. This requires you to smooth the mixture down with a trowel using the even edge, and to make sure that all of the stucco is spread out evenly over the wall before it dries.

Skip Trowel

  • Skip trowel technique, or knockdown finish, as it's sometimes called, is when you allow large portions of the stucco to have gaps in between the coats so that it has a pitted and falling-apart look, while actually being quite structurally sound. When the stucco is tacky, you simply take your trowel, or a wide-bladed putty knife, and create swirls in the finish that leave gaps and spun areas to dry. Practice on a sample is advised.

Pattern Trowel

  • Stucco is very adaptable, and you can trowel in all sorts of patterns. For instance, if one edge of your trowel is saw-toothed, you can make a wave pattern just by running the teeth through the stucco when it's gummy. Patterns can also be drawn only in certain places, giving the stucco an uneven or unfinished look.

Other Techniques

  • Stucco is a very forgiving and malleable substance, so if you you practice your trowel techniques there are all sorts of patterns you can create. Whether it's a rough, stony finish that you get from spraying on stucco, or you want to create a blended tint, all of this can be done with the right dyes and tools.

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