Q: How can I tell the difference between a synthetic stucco home and a “real” stucco home? I’m planning to move to southern Utah and I’ve noticed that a significant number of homes are constructed of stucco. I want to be an informed consumer.

A: In my experience, synthetic stucco (also known by the acronym EIFS) feels fake. It’s a polymer-based material, so when you touch it, it feels a little like plastic. If you knock on it, it sounds hollow, not solid.

Real stucco is hard, like concrete. If you touch it, and it’s a rough stucco finish, you could cut your hand. But when in doubt, ask. The real estate agent should be able to tell you what the exterior construction is made of.

July 17, 2003.