Q: Do you know when synthetic stucco was first used? I am looking at a home that was constructed in 1982.

Other than getting an inspector out there to check, how can I determine if the stucco is synthetic or real?

A: Synthetic stucco was first used in Europe after World War II. It was introduced in the 1970s in this country for commercial purposes. In the 1980s, developers starting experimenting with synthetic stucco on residential homes.

I think it’s unlikely that a house built in 1982 would be synthetic stucco. It’s more likely to be hard-coat stucco, which is fairly impervious to the elements.

Synthetic stucco feels quite different to the touch than hard-coat stucco. If you run your hand over synthetic stucco it has a plastic kind of feel to it. Hard-coat stucco feels like concrete and depending on the finish, can cut or scrape the skin on your fingers.

If you don’t want to spend the money on an inspector, you can visit a new construction development that uses synthetic stucco and touch the exterior of the houses, and then compare that to the house in which you’re interested.

Or, you can knock on the door and ask the owner what material is on the exterior of his house.

Jan. 28, 2005.