This story shows you how to remove and patch stucco.
Remodeling work is more challenging than new construction because often you must cut the opening, reconfigure the framing, install the unit, then patch the walls on the inside and the outside to make it look like the new window or door was always there. The next six pages show some common demolition and patching methods.
Before you begin demolition, be sure to locate any electrical, plumbing, or low-voltage lines running through the section you plan to remove. If you are at all unsure of what you encounter, hire a professional contractor, at least as a consultant.
Electrical lines can usually be rerouted without a great deal of effort, but to do this yourself you must have an understanding of wiring methods. Shut off the power to the circuit before touching the lines.
Plumbing gets messier. Supply pipes can be moved fairly easily, but drain and vent pipes are usually difficult to reroute. The same applies for heating or air-conditioning ducts. If any of these obstacles are present, hire a plumber or find a new place to install the window or door.
Drill locator holes at the corners. Use a pencil and a straightedge, or chalkline, to mark the cutlines. Equip a circular saw with a masonry-cutting blade and set it to a depth of about 1/2 inch. Wearing protective clothing and eyewear, cut along the lines. See that the blade cuts just through the stucco and metal lath, and not deeply into the sheathing. You will need to adjust the depth of the blade, which will wear down as you cut.
Use tin snips to cut away the wire lath where it has not already been cut. Pry away the nails holding the metal lath and discard the lath. You can now cut through the sheathing with a circular saw. If the sheathing is solid wood, you can cut a smaller opening in it so the window's flange can be attached to the sheathing.
When cutting a hole in stucco for a window, you'll often accidentally knock off more stucco than you intended or hit an already damaged patch. To make a repair, mask the installed window and use a wire brush to remove any loose stucco. You may have to add stucco mesh or hardware cloth.
Buy a container of stucco-patching compound. Use a trowel to press the first coat into the metal lath. It should be thick enough to cover the lath, but about 3/8 inch less thick than the surrounding area. Scratch a series of lines in the stucco and keep it moist for two days or so.
You may need to apply three coats, but two are usually enough. Before you apply the finish coat, practice on scrap wood to achieve the texture you desire (see below). Dampen the wall. Apply patching compound, then use the tool of your choice to produce the desired result. In this case a mason's brush is used to blend in the patch.