What's the Difference Between Stucco and Plaster?

Scott Dylan Westerlund
Updated June 8, 2022
A view of the exterior of a stucco house
Photo: KOTO / Adobe Stock


  • Stucco is considered more durable than plaster.

  • Plaster can be placed in molds for custom designs.

  • The rougher, rigid texture of stucco doesn't allow for customization.

  • While stucco is commonly used for home exteriors, plaster is an indoor material. However, both can technically be used indoors and outdoors.

  • Stucco is slightly more expensive than plaster.

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Are you besotted with both stucco and plaster? Both building materials offer plenty of benefits. In fact, many people who love classic and vintage homes will only consider these options for walls and siding due to the clout they bring to a property. 

But stucco and plaster aren't necessarily interchangeable just because they have a similar look. Take a peek at how plaster and stucco compare so you can choose the best materials for your siding and walls.

Stucco Pros and Cons

A view of a stucco house
Photo: OliverChilds / E+ / Getty Images

Stucco is made of cement, sand, and lime-based materials. Fiberglass is sometimes added to make stucco more rigid for certain applications. Generally, stucco is used for outdoor surfaces, but some homeowners make the stylistic choice to bring stucco inside.


  • Rigid and durable

  • Long-lasting 

  • Stucco’s unique beauty can increase your home’s value


  • Porous so it absorbs moisture more easily

  • Can form dark blotches

  • Higher risk of mold

Plaster Pros and Cons

A view of a room with a gray plaster wall
Photo: Dariusz Jarzabek / Adobe Stock

Plaster is composed of cement, sand, and gypsum that is used for coating walls and ceilings. It is most suitable for indoor use.


  • Higher tensile strength compared to drywall

  • More resistant to wear-and-tear

  • A good insulator that can cut down on utility costs

  • Noise-blocking


  • Softer than stucco

  • More delicate

  • Vulnerable to water damage and mold

  • Thickness means nailing and drilling is harder

  • Can block Wi-Fi signals

  • Cracks as it ages

Stucco vs. Plaster

When you’re building your dream home, watching the walls come up is a magical moment. But you need to make sure you pick the best material that will stand the test of time. See how stucco and plaster stack up when weighing all the important points of choosing a building material.


Plaster is more versatile than stucco because you can actually use plaster molds to create custom designs. Stucco options are more limited. In addition, stucco has a rough look. Siding contractors near you can provide information regarding the level of customization available for both options.

Best Aesthetic: Plaster


Stucco's rougher texture makes it more durable than plaster. Stucco should last for 50 years as long as you're maintaining stucco siding properly. Plaster's lifespan is a bit of a wildcard. Most estimates put the lifespan of a plaster wall somewhere between 30 and 70 years.

Most Durable: Stucco


Stucco costs $8 per square foot on average. The cost of plastering walls is typically between $2 and $10 per square foot. Factors like quality, color, and custom touches can all impact the final cost of any plaster or stucco project.

Most Affordable: Plaster


The truth is that both stucco and plaster are considered appropriate for indoor/outdoor application. However, stucco generally performs better outdoors than plaster. The delicateness of plaster can make it a poor choice for an area of the home that's exposed to the elements.

Most Versatile: Stucco

Eco-Friendly Qualities

Both stucco and plaster use natural ingredients without the need for things like synthetic ingredients or unsustainable sourcing. As a result, they are considered "greener" than wood, vinyl, and similar options.

Most Environmentally Friendly: Tie

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