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The Best Styles of Stucco Art

Using stucco, also called render and plaster, for your home’s exterior provides you with many design options. Your contractor can create complex shapes or forms in this material.

image - The Best Styles of Stucco Art
The Best Styles of Stucco Art

They can also use your preferred texture to add depth and interest to the finish. There are no wrong choices, particularly when you choose one of the options, below.

Four Common Textures

Most contractors specializing in hand-troweled masonry plaster exteriors offer the four following textures:


Float texture is also called sand texture. This common finish for building exteriors is one you likely recognize from other buildings in your community. As the nickname implies, the texture looks like grains of sand.


Dash texture for hand-troweled masonry plaster is rough in appearance and to the touch. It features tiny peaks of the plaster material sticking out from the surface.


Lace texture for render exteriors provides greater visual appeal than other finishes. For this look, your contractor creates an ornate pattern that looks like lace.

Two types of lace texture include heavy or light. Light lace features a finer finish on the topcoat than heavy lace.


A scraped finish is very smooth. It is created using a steel tool.

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Decorative Finishes

image - Decorative Finishes

Besides texture, you can also choose from a variety of decorative finishes. These finishes add a custom flair to your home exterior.

You can also have your contractor simulate other materials using the plaster, such as brick, timber, or travertine. These finishes require great skill and knowledge of how to color, shape and texturize the render.

Some of the most popular decorative finishes include:

  • Trowel sweep, featuring a heavy fan-shaped design
  • Web, featuring a web of thick yet smooth rectangles
  • Combed, with a thick topcoat combed to create raised lines in a chosen pattern
  • Briar, featuring ridges or lines in a smooth texture
  • Cat face, with a random or specified pattern of textured base coat peeking through a smoothed top coat

Geographically Named Stucco Textures

Some textures used on exterior plaster are those named for the places where they are most popular. These include:

  • Spanish, with heavy, raised areas overlapping on a smooth base
  • Arizona, similar in design to Spanish
  • California, featuring a thinly applied textured topcoat with some elevated yet smooth areas
  • Santa Barbara, an almost entirely smoothed surface with some underlying raised areas
  • English, applied using a rounded trowel and featuring random, rounded strokes

Designs for Specific Architectural Styles

Plaster render siding works very well for some architectural styles known for this type of exterior finish. These building styles include:

  • Mission, like homes built in California starting in the late 19th century, looking much like Spanish mission churches and featuring curved roofs and bell towers
  • Spanish, typically found in the southwestern U.S. and influenced by Mexican culture
  • The Mediterranean, such as Spanish Colonial Revival architecture made popular in Southern California in the early 1900s and featuring red-tiled roofs, arches, and grillwork
  • Traditional Ranch, a style dating to 1932 and made popular during the post-WWII era
  • Country French, such as homes built in the Eastern U.S. by the French in the 1700s
  • Cottage, medieval styling from the English countryside with a storybook appearance, steep roof, cross gables, and arched doors
  • Craftsman, also called Arts and Crafts and made very popular from 1905 to 1930s in the U.S.
  • Contemporary, such as architect-designed homes of 1950 to 1970 featuring low-slope roofs and open design with many large windows

Working with a contractor who focuses on stucco design is very important to achieve the results you want for your home.

With an experienced contractor, you can find the right finish, texture, and design to make your home stand out as an art piece in its own right.

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