Stucco Installation Problems

Just read an excellent article by Charles Wardell on the Journal of Light Construction website: “Avoiding the Most Common Construction Defects”. Among other problems, Mr. Wardell outlines four very common issues with stucco installations:

  1. Lack of control joints per ASTM standards that require control joints every 144 square feet
  2. Improper detailing at points where stucco meets window frames or other materials that can create cracks where water can penetrate behind the stucco
  3. Using the wrong stucco mix
  4. Poor hydration during the curing process that causes excessive cracking

He also makes it clear that it’s vital to use weep screeds with stucco and stone installations. We recommend ClarkDietrich weep screeds such as the one at this link.

Stucco brought tight to a window will crack as window expands and contracts, providing an entry point for water. Photos: Dave Haines

A stucco bead should be installed around windows, doors and other points where stucco meets different products with a gap that can be filled with a backer rod.

The gap between the stucco bead and window filled with caulk to allow for expansion and contraction without cracking the stucco

Importance of a Drainage Plane

He recommends installing a “rainscreen mat” behind stone and stucco. Also called a drainage plane, this is a mesh drainage mat that creates a thin “plane” or space behind the adhered veneer. It is similar in function to the cavity in a masonry cavity wall. A drainage plane allows water behind the veneer to drain through holes in the weep screed, and also allows air to circulate behind the veneer to provide rapid and complete drying. Mortar Net’s DriPlane mesh drainage plane and the mesh drainage plane that is a part of the LathNet metal lath/drainage mat system both meet his recommendations. Learn more about DriPlane and LathNet under the Products dropdown menu above.

Read the entire Wardell article at the below link. 

As a masonry contractor, you aren’t always hired directly by a business owner to take care of their masonry needs. Instead, you’re subcontracted by a general contractor to take care of the masonry-specific part of the job. That means that selling your services to and developing a great relationship with a general contractor can have huge dividends. Utilizing these five methods will make it easier to sell your company to general contractors and make the connections you need.
1. Network constantly. When project managers or general contractors are looking for subcontractors, they’re going to turn to their network for recommendations. Look for opportunities to attend networking events and get your name out there. Attend industry conferences and events. Take business cards with you wherever you go. Sure, it’s old-fashioned, but it’s also a great way to get your name out there and ensure that when a general contractor is ready to select subs for a job, they’ll remember who you were.
2. Submit a proposal. Pay attention to the big jobs going on around you. Chances are, there are some that you’ve got your eye on already: a job that you think would be a great fit for your team’s skills, for example, or a particular building that you’ve envisioned fixing up before. When you know that a general contractor is gathering bids for a project, submit a proposal! You can’t be selected if you don’t take the time to put your name forward. It’s reasonable to submit a bid even if you know that you can’t make the best price on the job. Sometimes, quality work is more important to both the contractor and to the building owner–and in that case, your work will be able to speak for itself. Note that a professional, high-quality proposal can help you stand out from the pack, so make sure that yours is up to standard!
3. Subscribe to a reporting service. Discover the reporting services in your area that will tell you when a big construction job is about to happen. This will make it easier for you to submit those key proposals when it will make a difference. It will also help you track work flow in your area,
4. Develop relationships with the big names in your area. Hospitals, public utilities providers, and manufacturers, among others, often take care of their own subcontracting work. Developing relationships with them is a great way to place your name in the pool when the time comes for them to look for masonry contractors. In many cases, that relationship will also give you early knowledge when a big job is coming up, which will make it easier for you to put your name in with the general contractor who’s been chosen for the job.
5. Provide quality work. When you are selected as a subcontractor on a job, make sure you do your best work. Stick to your estimates, both in terms of time and in terms of the cost of your part of the project. Make sure that your team doesn’t cause problems on the job site and that your work is of the highest quality. Once you’ve eased your foot in the door, the quality of your work is the difference between getting called back and discovering that a general contractor has little desire to work with you in the future.
If you want to be sure that you’re getting the right materials for your project so that when you stand in front of a general contractor, you’ll know you’re providing them with quality work, contact us! We’ll help you find the moisture control solutions that will enable you to make the best of every project, helping to ensure that you’ll be called back to do work for them in the future.


Today’s adhered masonry veneer walls are typically more vulnerable to moisture problems than older “thick mass” masonry walls or today’s masonry cavity walls. The reason is simple – most of today’s typical masonry veneer walls are built without a space between the veneer and the substrate, so they don’t allow fast and complete drainage and drying behind the veneer. The traditional method of using two layers of building paper between the substrate and scratch coat may provide some drainage, but it doesn’t allow ventilation and it won’t prevent mortar bridging.

Since the characteristics of moisture movement in veneer walls are the same as those of masonry cavity walls, it only makes sense to provide the equivalent of a cavity behind the adhered veneer. Without this cavity, often called a “drainage/ventilation plane” in adhered masonry walls, mortar bridging between the veneer and substrate can occur, which can conduct infiltrating water from the veneer to the substrate. In addition, without a drainage/ventilation plane behind the veneer, there is no way for air to circulate and dry the veneer or the substrate. Veneers, mortar, cracks and flashing failures will allow moisture into the wall, and without a drainage/ventilation plane, it can damage moisture-sensitive wall components.

As a result, the need for efficient drainage and rapid, complete drying are important considerations when designing and installing adhered masonry veneers.

Moisture Intrusion Problems

When moisture can’t dry behind an adhered masonry wall system, the consequences range from merely inconvenient to very expensive, plus wall failure can seriously damage a builder’s reputation. They include:

  • Mold growth
  • Chronic efflorescence
  • Excessive humidity
  • Deteriorating fasteners
  • Wall cracking and spalling

Let’s examine each of these potential problems in greater detail:

Mold growth – Insulation, sheathing, drywall and any wall materials with organic content are vulnerable to mold infestation resulting from moisture trapped in walls. Mold remediation is often an expensive and complicated process requiring professional expertise, and extensive mold infestations can lead to lawsuits that can damage a contractor’s reputation. Affected areas must be sealed off to minimize spore dispersion, and it is necessary to completely remove and replace affected wall components.

Chronic efflorescence – Efflorescence is the white powder that results from minerals in the mortar migrating to the exterior surface of the masonry veneer. Chronic efflorescence is caused by there being more moisture inside the wall than in the outside air. This causes the moisture to migrate through the mortar and results in a continuing cycle of mineral stains, surface cleansing and more mineral stains. While efflorescence doesn’t cause structural damage, it is unsightly, requires ongoing maintenance and will definitely create an unhappy customer.

Excessive humidity – Too much moisture in the air encourages bacterial growth, and relative humidity inside the walls of greater than 60% can feed mold growth, which may compromise interior air quality. When excess humidity infiltrates walls, interior humidity levels rise. This often increases the amount of heating and cooling required to maintain the comfort of occupants.

Deteriorating metal components – If the metal lath used for the scratch coat rusts, the rust will expand and may create cracks and even push the veneer off the wall. The metal fasteners used to adhere the masonry veneer to the structural substrate may also rust or corrode and eventually fail, and if the veneer pulls away from the substrate, it not only creates the opportunity for more water damage but can also injure people and damage property if it falls without warning.

Cracking and spalling – Excess moisture which migrates to the wall’s surface may lead to cracking and spalling, which can allow more moisture behind the wall, creating a vicious cycle of water damage leading to more water damage. Widespread deterioration may also have an adverse impact on leasing, and will almost certainly decrease a property’s value.

Unfortunately, moisture damage behind adhered masonry veneers may remain hidden for months or years before it becomes obvious, and by that time, repairs may be very expensive, sometimes reaching into the tens of thousands of dollars. Money spent on prevention of moisture problems will always be a good investment and is likely to pay for itself multiple times during the building’s life.


Proactive Measures

Of course, it is best to design moisture management into the wall to prevent damage rather than try to fix the wall once moisture has damaged it.. A properly designed wall will include:

Drainage/ventilation planes – A plastic mesh drainage/ventilation plane at least ¼” thick should be installed continuously behind the adhered veneer to allow drainage and airflow vital to managing moisture in the wall. The continuous mesh acts as a mortar break to prevent bridging, and moisture that does get behind the veneer travels to the bottom of the wall where it escapes through openings in the weep screed. The mesh also allows air circulation to promote rapid drying. Modern substrates are designed to withstand occasional wetting without damage, but if a substrate and other wall components never dry completely, mold and structural problems will result.

Weep screeds – Weep screeds are often used at the bottom of adhered masonry walls to provide a clean termination line for the veneer. While a weep screed has holes for drainage and ventilation, they are not considered to be weep holes as the term is used in masonry cavity walls. However, like weep holes, the weep screed holes provide a means for the moisture that flows down the drainage/ventilation plane to exit the wall and they provide a way for air to move into the drainage/ventilation plane to dry the wall components and the veneer from the back.

Moisture damage is the leading cause of masonry building failure – it can cost big dollars to fix and ruin a contractor’s reputation. Mortar Net Solutions is the industry leader in masonry moisture management, and DriPlane and LathNet are two solutions designed specifically to provide the drainage and ventilation plane vital to adhered masonry wall sustainability and beauty. Click here to find a distributor near you. Click here for free samples. For additional information, please contact us today!

5 Tips for Managing Materials on the Jobsite

When you’re headed out to a job site, managing materials is critical. You want all of your materials to show up at the right time, in the right amounts. You need to inventory them; you need to store them properly. Sometimes, it may feel as though material management is half of your job! These five tips will make managing materials on the job site easier.

  1. Conduct regular inventory.Choose the system that works best for you, whether you’re using a mobile app, RFID tags, or bar codes. Keeping track of your inventory on the job site accomplishes a number of critical things. First, it makes it less likely that materials will go missing–and if they do, you’ll have a better idea of when they disappeared. Second, you’ll be more likely to see exactly what materials were used during each job, making it possible for you to refine your estimates for future projects.
  2. Create a solid schedule.Whether you’re working with a general contractor or a building owner, it’s important to know the full construction schedule and how you fit into it. Then, you need to create a schedule for your work. You don’t need to leave materials sitting around the job site well before they’ll be needed, especially if you’re working in a high crime area or the site has been targeted for vandalism. On the other hand, failing to have materials delivered at the appropriate time can put you well behind schedule. Check your schedule at the beginning of each week, making sure to account for any delays or for the fact that you’re ahead of schedule, in order to determine what materials and tools need to be on the job site.
  3. Don’t forget your tool inventory!Because you use them every day, you may not think about how expensive your tools are–and you might miss how vulnerable they are! Tools are expensive, portable, and relatively easy to sell, especially if they aren’t labeled for your business. Conducting inventory at the beginning and end of every job, however, will let you know immediately if tools go missing. This can help prevent thefts as well as making it less likely that you’ll accidentally leave a tool behind at the job site.
  4. Have an organization system.You know what tools are on the job site. You know how they need to be used. Now, can you lay your hands on the tools and materials you need when you use them? Instead of simply throwing your tools into a trailer or tossing them in the back of a truck, develop a system that will allow you to easily pick up the ones you need at any given moment. This system will also make inventory easier, allowing you to go straight to the materials you need instead of fumbling around looking for them.
  5. Check the site plan and make sure it includes proper storage.Do you have materials or tools that need to be protected from the elements? What about more expensive materials or dangerous ones that need to be locked up at the end of the day? Experienced general contractors will often put together a site map that shows where everything should be located, including that specific storage information. Consult with them about the best place to store your materials on the job site. This will also make it easier for you to find tools and materials and ensure that they won’t be moved if you leave for the day before someone else does, making it easier for you to get back to work the next day.

Managing materials on a job site is an ongoing process. Construction sites are often chaotic, filled with people moving everywhere and things that have to be done. Appropriately managing those materials will help give you a sense of confidence and make it easier for you to take care of your part of the job. Need help keeping moisture from creeping into your masonry materials? Contact us to learn more about the materials we can offer.

5 tips for marketing your architecture business
If you’re an architect, you’re probably not a marketer too. You’re focused on designing beautiful and functional buildings. But effective marketing is the only way to grow your business. The following five simple steps are easy to implement and can help you attract and retain more clients.
1) Know Your Audience
Any marketing plan, regardless of industry, can only be successful if it is based not on individual preferences, but those of your audience. Stated differently, every marketing-related decision you make should be done with your potential clients in mind.
Your clients, for instance, define the channel through which you will push your messages. A residential architect may find an attentive audience on Facebook, while a business-facing professional will likely be more successful on a platform like LinkedIn. Start your marketing plan with a thorough audience analysis, including the channels they prefer for getting their information and doing their research, then design your marketing pieces to be available through those channels.
2) Highlight Your Work
In all of your promotional materials, from your website to your social media pages and print ads, highlight your past work. While the design process matters to the professionals involved in constructing the building, potential clients want to know what the final result will be.
Depending on your budget, you can highlight your past work in a variety of ways. For instance, consider incorporating not just images but also videos of your portfolio into your website. You can even incorporate 360 degree VR video, offering a more immersive experience for anyone looking to check out your past work.
3) Incorporate Social Proof
An architect is a major part of any building project, so your audience’s decision to work with you will likely include exhaustive research on finding the right partner. As much as you can claim (and show) the quality of your work, you will gain more credibility by allowing your current clients to sing your praises for you.
Social proof is scientifically proven to work, because it adds independent value to your naturally biased statements. Short testimonials, longer case studies, and a variety of other client-based communications should become a core part of your entire marketing strategy.
4) Offer Personalized Follow-Ups
Technology developments have made marketing more automated than ever before. However, to successfully market your architecture firm, it makes sense to use this technology as a means to an end rather than the end itself.
In other words, don’t let marketing automation tempt you into sending impersonal, mass emails. Instead, personalize your messaging in order to build a closer relationship with potentially interested clients. By the time they’re ready to choose a partnership, they’ll be likely to choose the firm they feel most closely connected to.
5) Build on Recommendations
Speaking of personal touches: ultimately, a large part of your business will come from direct referrals. If you do great work, your clients will be happy to come back for future projects – and recommend your work to others who might be in need of your architectural expertise.
Quality work, of course, is the major driver behind that trend. However, you can further encourage return business and referrals by building a relationship with your existing clients. Don’t think of marketing simply as a client acquisition method; instead, look at it more holistically, with regular touches and follow-ups designed to keep existing and past clients engaged.
Marketing doesn’t have to be quantum physics. The above tips do not require a marketing expert, and can be executed by any architect. But of course, all of it only works if you do great work – which includes using the right products. To learn more about our solutions, click here for free product samples or contact us for more information.

As all people that have an interest in masonry, it is important for us to realize that we often need help understanding new technologies, old traditions and why the architect drew such a thing.  All information shared is only as good as the person communicating the concern.  Now, I know I am not the world’s best communicator (ok, stop laughing), but when I am explaining a masonry situation that requires some assistance from a more experienced co-worker I need to be on my game.  As an employee of one of the nation’s top masonry firms for many years, I had a variety of expertise at my fingertips, people who could jump in a truck and come to a jobsite without adding expense to my job.

That is what we all need, someone there who can help.  Mortar Net Solutions™ has that service ready and waiting for you.  Proud of their technical experience and innovation, Mortar Net can take a look at your jobsite condition and offer the suggestions you sometimes need to keep things moving.  Oh – and it is part of our everyday service that we offer all of our customers.

Video Series 

Mortar Net Solutions provides an extensive and ever-expanding library of customer testimonials, and how-to and installation videos. The how-to and installation videos are shot with a focus on helping make the mason’s job easier.  Based on the technical department’s most frequent requests from masons and designers, the videos have been developed to help educate and instruct the viewer using time proven techniques that are typically passed down from one’s mentor.  Written and based on hundreds of jobsite visits where North America’s masons and project managers have discussed jobsite conditions, the videos are designed to solve specialty issues using universal techniques.  Though products are referenced, the basis of the videos is the education that is presented as well as the techniques that are shared.  Compatibility of products as well as the do’s and don’ts of mixing materials is broken down into simple talk.

As technology expands our trade with digital time clocks, automated estimating and accounting services, cellular phones and digital video cameras, it is great to know that the originator of the first mortar collection system allows its technical department the ability to share experience, and video equipment to assist the masons in solving problems with time proven techniques and quality products.

Showing the masonry industry Mortar Net’s commitment to the industry and the technical expertise that is part of our everyday service will provide the customer with confidence that their masonry-related questions will be answered correctly.

According to a recent survey from the Associated General Contractors of America, 83% of construction firms struggle to fill positions for qualified craftworkers.  TotalFlash, LathNet and BlockFlash, MortarNet, CompleteFlash, and DriPlane are all products that provide superior performance while being quick to install. They are specifically designed to save labor time and costs, and to help contractors get more productivity out of the workers they have.

From the online news source, “Business Insider “: According to the NAHB, homebuilder sentiment rose more than expected in June and to the best level since January after holding steady during the four months in between. The National Association of Homebuilders’ housing market index for June climbed to 60 from 58, topping the forecast for a rise to 59.

To compile the index, the NAHB surveys its members for how they rate the current sale of new homes, as well as their outlook for sales and buyer traffic. Members across the country reported higher traffic and more committed buyers.

“Rising home sales, an improving economy and the fact that the HMI gauge measuring future sales expectations is running at an eight-month high are all positive factors indicating that the housing market should continue to move forward in the second half of 2016,” said Robert Dietz, NAHB chief economist.  The components gauging current sales, sales expectations and buyer traffic all rose.”

Since many houses use adhered masonry veneers, this indicates a growing opportunity for LathNet sales, as well as an indicator that commercial construction will probably be good for the rest of this year too.  While commercial and residential construction don’t move in lockstep, positive economic conditions such as a relatively low cost of money and the overall economic outlook influence both markets.

According to federal employment data released by the Associated General Contractors of America, construction employment increased in 244 out of 358 metropolitan areas in the USA and was unchanged in 44 areas. 70 areas saw a decline between March, 2015 and March, 2016. AGCA data shows that the building recovery continues to be broad-based geographically and by construction type.  Declining areas are in the parts of the country that are most affected by declining energy prices. The data also indicates that skilled labor shortages will continue and will probably grow as demand for new building increases.  An AGCA survey showed that 70% of firms are having a hard time finding qualified workers.  Please spread the word to any young people you know that jobs in the construction industry are plentiful and that a college education isn’t necessary for most of them.  Masons, for example, can be collecting a paycheck with as little as 2 years of training.

The International Masonry Institute (IMI) position on the value of designing sustainable masonry cavity walls as systems rather than as a grouping of individual components reinforces the value of designing and building with CavityComplete. CavityComplete is the first and only tested and warrantied total cavity wall system.

CavityComplete includes Mortar Net Solutions products MortarNet, TotalFlash, CompleteFlash and WeepVent.

According to IMI: “Masonry systems provide maximum contribution when they are recognized as a system. The masonry system addresses moisture penetration, air infiltration, thermal performance and life-long resiliency. Therefore, in the case of a masonry solution, we are talking about much more than the installation of a finished material and are instead focused on the delivery of a high performing system that continues to provide payback to the owner in terms of energy and maintenance costs. Masonry systems are the most cost-effective options to arrive at energy-efficient and environmentally healthy buildings today.”