Traditional stucco is made from a plaster made from a mixture of sand, lime, and water, that is applied over a wire mesh that is nailed to the exterior walls of a house. Stucco is normally made of three coats and has to be cured between coats. Just like concrete, this stucco can shrink and crack, a problem made worse in climates that have a freeze and thaw cycle.

Synthetic stucco siding or exterior insulation and finish systems (EIFS) is a multi-layered finish for exteriors that was earlier used in Europe after World War II. This has six layers, starting with a barrier for resisting water that covers the substrate. An adhesive is then applied as the second layer, which is then covered with a third layer of the insulation. A base coat of polymer-based cement material makes up the fifth layer that is applied over the fourth layer, a reinforcement mesh. The final sixth layer is the textured coat that is both decorative and protective.