Matt Risinger

You're always better off capping parapet walls with metal rather than stucco'ing over them. But what if your client or the project architect doesn't want that look? I recently built a Spanish Colonial–style house near Austin, Texas, and my clients and the architect on the project wanted a traditional look. The roof over the front door was flat and called for a stucco parapet. The challenge was creating a parapet cap that didn't allow massive amounts of water to drain into, and rot out, the framing. (For a demonstration of the ugly failures that can occur with stucco parapet caps, see my blog posting, "Massive Stucco Failure—Lessons Learned," at

First, my carpenters framed the parapet cap with a slope draining to the inside. Any water falling on a parapet needs to drain onto the watertight roof—you don't want it standing on the parapet cap, and you certainly don't want it to dribble down the stucco face of the exterior wall where it can find its way into the framing. A slope of 1 inch...

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