Robert Lamoureux: Covering bricks with stucco, drywall with tile

Robert Lamoureux
Robert Lamoureux
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Question No. 1 

Hi Robert,

We are getting ready to redo the exterior of our home. My husband is quite handy, so we’ll be doing as much work as possible on our own. The exterior of the house — on either side of the garage and also at the chimney — has old, dated red bricks, and we’d like to stucco directly over them rather than removing. 

The old red bricks really date the home, and we want to update it. 

Chris has some stucco experience but needs to know if it is possible to stucco over the bricks and if there is anything special that he needs to do to this area in order to make it a sound installation. 

— Gina & Chris R. 

Answer No. 1 


This is absolutely possible to do. Check the grout at the bricks. If it is flush with the bricks, all you need to do is take a grinder and take that surface down a bit, in order to give the stucco something to bond to. If the grout line is already recessed, you’re good. 

An added step would be to score the bricks. This will also help the stucco to adhere. 

Without photos, I will assume that the corners are square. In this case you’ll need a corner lath and, with a straight edge, you’ll be guided by this to get the stucco straight on the corners. 

This may be a bit much for a beginner. If needed, let me know, and I can refer a local company. 

Be sure that your husband uses scaffolding around the chimney. This is nothing to try to avoid, as the safety concerns are many. There are scaffolding companies that will erect the scaffold for you and can provide specialty scaffold ladders for use. 

Do not skip any of the safety steps. A fall from these heights could be deadly. 

— Robert

Question No. 2 


I live in Canyon Country, where the fireplace is drywalled. I want to put tile on the fireplace now, and I want to know if I can do this safely and securely. Can this be done and will it hold? 

I can do a lot of handy work myself, so am willing to try this out. 

— Martha R. 

Answer No. 2 


Good for you. It’s great that you are able and willing to try this out. This is surely possible. All you need to do to start prepping the area for the mortar to stick is to score the drywall so that it is no longer a nearly smooth surface. 

You need to give the thin-set mortar something to grab onto, so take a utility knife and literally just score (cut) lines into the drywall. 

Make many scores in at least two opposite directions, though don’t make so many that you take sections out of the drywall. This will provide adequate area for the mortar to grab onto. 

Since you’re handy, the rest should be good to go, once you choose your tile. The sheeted tile seems to be a little easier to work with. Just remember, either way, that you stagger your installation and don’t do too many rows at once or the weight will pull it down. 

Good luck to you.

— Robert

Robert Lamoureux has 40 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Email questions to Robert at [email protected].

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