(Written by Jack Milarch – NMHBA EVP/CEO – Originally published in the May 2006 Housing Journal)

Rules for Stucco Weep Screed Refined

I recently attended a special meeting of the New Mexico General Construction Technical Advisory Committee, along with Albuquerque designer Jim Beverly and Farmington builder Derrick Childers, and others who are Advisory Council members. Once again we discussed stucco weep screed requirements.

We reported previously that the Construction Industries Division had decided to begin enforcement of the long-ignored weep screed code requirement. We understand that some local code jurisdictions were already enforcing this, some reportedly flatly refused, and some asked for softening amendments. There was much feedback from builders, suppliers and designers, most of whom just didn’t like the look of a stucco break four inches from the bottom of a stucco wall. CID staff and stucco manufacturers have toured the state offering best practices seminars. Through all this a number of suggestions for change to the code language were sent to General Construction Bureau Chief Fermin Aragon. Those suggestions were discussed and distilled down to a recommendation for a code change, which will now go to the Construction Industries Commission for their review.

Here are highlights of the proposed change for weep screed usage:

  • Traditional fully cement-based stucco applications won’t need an exterior weep screed, however all residential and commercial acrylic-based applications will, including those using acrylic as part of an exterior finish system and for color coat over cement stucco base applications. (Standard code requirements currently in effect call for all stucco applications to use a weep screed).
  • The break created by a weep screed can be a minimum of TWO inches above the finished earth grade, instead of the standard code requirement of four inches.
  • The break created by a weep screed can be a minimum of ONE-HALF inch above paving which is adjacent to a stucco wall.
  • No weep screed will be required where a stucco wall is under a covered porch or patio.
  • All excess plaster accumulated at the bottom of a plastered wall must be removed. The big lump of excess plaster sometimes seen at the bottom of the wall is thought to contribute greatly to water wicking up into the wall. Wicking water often causes stucco to flake off the wall and creates unsightly efflorescence. (Our frequently high-alkaline content of local sand and water makes this problem much worse).
  • In applications using traditional cement plaster, and where there is no exterior footing insulation, color coat must be terminated no further than 6 inches below the finished grade.

If you would like to read the actual proposal, please call Melanie at the NMHBA office for a copy.

Members of the Technical Advisory Committee unanimously approved these changes and it is hoped the Commissioners will agree at their May meeting.