A lot of homes have stucco on the outside because it’s durable, comes in a lot of different colors and textures, and doesn’t need much upkeep. But what happens if you must drill into it?

Most of us, including myself, are afraid to try because we think the stucco might be too harsh to drill through or because we are afraid that our homes will leak and be open to the weather.

So come with me today as I walk you through the process in a way that is simple and easy to understand, from picking out the right tools and materials to learning how to drill into stucco without any problems.

Drill into stucco

Can You Drill Through Stucco?

Yes, you can drill through stucco because it is made of cement, sand, and lime, which are all durable materials. But make sure you use the right bit, like a masonry drill bit, and only a little pressure to keep it from cracking.

Additionally, ensure the drill is set to the right speed and steady your hand to get clean, accurate holes.

Drilling Through Stucco: The Step-By-Step Guide

I’ve compiled a beginner-friendly guide if you’ve ever wondered how to drill into stucco without making it too hard. Here are the steps:

Step 1: Getting Prepared Before Drilling

Before you begin drilling through stucco, it’s crucial to consider some important factors. I understand your eagerness to start, but taking these precautions is important.

Safety first

Similar to how you dress in warm clothes during the winter or wear hats to shield your head from the sun, gloves protect your hands against potential injuries, while sunglasses safeguard your eyes from debris.

So, it’s important to remember that working with stucco material can be challenging, and accidents may occur. By taking a moment to prioritize your safety, you can ensure a smooth drilling experience.

Identify your stucco type

There are different kinds of stucco, but the most common ones or at least the ones I like—are traditional cement and synthetic stucco.

Each has its benefits and drawbacks, so it’s important to know the difference between them to understand the process and how it affects the drilling methods.

Traditional cement and synthetic stucco may look the same, but you must use different methods to drill through them. Firstly, tap them softly; traditional stucco makes a harsh sound, whereas synthetic stucco sounds hollow and softer.

Additionally, when drilling, you’ll notice a difference between synthetic stucco, which requires a more soothing touch with a standard bit, and traditional stucco, which requires more power and a masonry bit.

drill a hole in stucco wall

Locate underlying structures

Before attempting this task on your own, I will advise you to assess the area surrounding the wall of your house carefully and take note of the location of outlets and what is positioned directly above or below the spot where you plan to drill because it is likely that there is a wire running between the two outlets on that wall.

Also, it is essential to consider the presence of pipes and wires, especially if a bathroom or kitchen is above or below.

However, it would help if you always exercise caution, which is why a high-quality stud finder is essential.

Likewise, an inspection camera can be helpful in cases where you suspect the presence of pipes or wires but cannot physically locate them. Please do this with the utmost care because patting a small hole in the drywall is easier than fixing drilled wires or pipes.

Mark your drilling spot

This simple! just like we do when drilling stainless steel. Get a pencil and put the drill bit where you want to make the hole. Using a light touch, make a small dot on the surface with the tip of the pencil and try to check your mark again to ensure it lines up with where you want it to be.

You can also mark the drill locations with a knife or chisel. To begin, mark out the area you want to carve with the chisel or knife, then use the pencil to outline it.

It would help if you exercised extreme caution not to ruin the entire operation. Remember that drilling requires pinpoint accuracy, and knowing what you’re doing will guarantee even better results.

Step 2: Choose The Right Tools

I know there are a lot of drill bits out there that are good for drilling into stucco, but there are some rules you should always follow when choosing the right one.

Drill

A standard drill can also be used to make bigger holes in tougher materials like stucco, but it will take longer, and there is a greater chance that the edges of the holes will crack.

A hammer drill, on the other hand, drills as it turns, which makes it better at cutting through hard surfaces.

Drill Bits

As I already said, stucco is a rigid material that can be hard to drill through with regular drill bits. So, to save you the stress, you need to use a unique tool like masonry bits with carbide or diamond tips.

This is because masonry bits with carbide or diamond tips are specifically designed to handle the hardness of materials like stucco, and this ensures that you can drill through it without causing any damage to the bit.

In addition, their wear resistance is exceptional, ensuring they stay sharp for extended periods.

As for size, let me give you a hint. Standard masonry bit sizes for anchor and screw installations are 1/4 inch (6.4 mm) to 1/2 inch (12.7 mm), while larger bits ranging from 5/8 inch (15.9 mm) to 1 inch (25.4 mm) or bigger are considered for projects requiring larger holes for more substantial fasteners.

Let’s say you have a stucco wall and want to hang a heavy outdoor lantern. A carbide or diamond-tipped masonry bit, measuring between 5/8 and 3/4 inches in diameter, would be ideal for this task.

drill bits for drilling stucco

Other Tools

Drilling through stucco can easily cause cracks, but a dust mask can keep the dust from getting everywhere if you wear it over your mouth and nose. You can also use a vacuum cleaner to pick up the debris. It can be used to collect loose stucco dust by running it over the drilled area.

As for the cracks, fill the holes you drilled with caulk (a flexible material that seals gaps and keeps moisture out). Just apply it by squeezing the tube and smoothing it with a small metal object.

Step 3: Begin Drilling Through Stucco

Check out these simple tips if you want perfect results when drilling into stucco:

Pilot holes

From what I know, pilot holes are like tiny holes you make in something before you put in a screw. This makes it easier for the screw to go in straight and lowers the risk of it cracking.

To sum up, drilling pilot holes makes things more accurate and precise because it lets you drive a screw or drill a bigger hole in the exact spot and at the right angle.

Go slow and steady

When drilling through stucco, you must be careful not to damage the soft surface. Though stucco is a hard material it is also fragile, and rushing through the drilling process can cause cracks, chips, or even the stucco to break completely.

So, if you keep your speed slow and steady, the drill bit can slowly break through the surface without using too much force. This keeps the stucco in good shape and makes drilling more accurate and successful.

Minimise dust

You are aware of the widespread use of dust/nose masks during COVID-19 and their critical importance. In the case of drilling into stucco, the same logic applies.

After drilling a hole, you should expect to find some dust or other debris inside. Avoid dust in your eyes, nose, and mouth by wearing a dust mask or bringing a vacuum to keep the area clean.

You can breathe easier with a dust mask because it filters out those annoying particles, and you can get rid of debris faster with a vacuum cleaner. So, whether you’re an expert or a novice, remember these basic but adequate safety precautions to keep things clean and safe while drilling.

Cooling the bit

It’s important to have a small container of cold water and a towel nearby when drilling. If you notice the drill bit getting hot or if you’ve been drilling for a while, submerge it in water and then dry it off with a towel.

Expert Tips On How To Drill Holes In Stucco Walls

There may be more than one thing you need to do or remember when you want to mount something or drill holes in your stucco wall.

Tip 1: Using Wall Anchors

Why anchors?

If you need to familiarise yourself with the term, let me explain. By spreading the load over a wider area, anchors reduce the likelihood of stress concentrations on the wall caused by heavy objects. Furthermore, anchors offer stability, ensuring that heavy objects are mounted securely on the wall.

Choosing the right anchor

You have some things to hang on the wall but don’t want them to fall off and break into a million pieces, right? Usually, different types of anchors are made just for hanging things safely on hollow walls.

These anchors can handle light tasks, like hanging a picture frame, or heavy tasks, like holding a full-length mirror. For heavy things like machinery or big buildings, I present the Concrete anchors that can hold them down.

Toggle bolts work well for medium-weight items like shelves or decorations that are mounted on the wall. They are flexible and can be used with different materials, like plaster or drywall.

You can trust Screw anchors to hold light to moderate weights and use them in wood or drywall. Plastic anchors can hold light-to-medium loads in materials like drywall.

Even though they are weaker than other types, they are simple to set up and provide a long-lasting way to hang things like pictures or light decorations.

install wall anchors in Stucco wall

Installing the anchors

It’s important to be cautious when driving screws into anchors or attaching toggles to the back of the stucco. Failure to do so can damage the anchors, the wall, and the items you’re trying to hang.

To prevent that, follow these steps to learn how to do it correctly:

  • Start by drilling a hole in the base with a masonry bit that is the same size as the anchor. The hole should be deeper than its length to allow the anchor to go through.
  • Put the hammer drive anchor into the drilled hole, ensuring that the part that expands faces outward.
  • Push the drive pin into the anchor’s top and hit it hard with a hammer.
  • Keep hammering until the anchor is leveled with the material.
  • If you’re using more than one anchor, repeat the steps for each one, ensuring they are all spaced and lined up correctly.

Tip 2: Dealing with Cracks

If you follow these two tips I will share below, drilling through stucco will be a breeze and leave you with a flawless, crack-free finish.

  • Try to minimize the pressure on the edges: The number one piece of advice for drilling through stucco is to avoid the edges because applying too much pressure to this spot can cause unpleasant cracks.
  • Caulk it up: But a tiny crack could still find its way into view, no matter how careful you are. Put your worries aside and caulk it. All you have to do is apply a little amount around the drilled hole’s perimeter and smooth it with a steady hand.

Final Thoughts

“Measure twice, drill once.” If you want your drilling project to go off without a hitch or incident, this old saying should remind you to think thoroughly before you begin.

The most important thing to remember when drilling stucco is to check its condition beforehand. If it is, and you’re equipped with the right tools, it should be easy for you to do. Do not rush through the steps I outlined above; take things slowly, and you will be good to go.

However, if you’re not entirely sure about your ability to handle this task correctly, consider hiring a professional. Although it can be expensive, it guarantees a job done to satisfaction.