Drive through a neighborhood that has a lot of older stucco homes, and you'll probably notice some obvious patch jobs where windows have been replaced. Window replacement is one of the most common home improvements people make in any type of house, but it takes special skill to blend the repairs into an existing stucco surface.

Looks are the least of it. Tying into the parts you can't see — the existing lath, flashings, and building paper — is a more serious challenge than making a good visual match. Metal lath gives the stucco structural integrity, and the building paper and flashings beneath the lath are the wall's last line of defense against water. It's difficult...

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