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Stucco is the most common exterior finish in the Southwest. Builders here use stucco to finish almost any style of residence: frame, adobe, masonry, and even straw bale homes. Traditional "three-coat" stucco, as the name implies, consists of three separate layers of cement plaster materials: a trowel-applied "scratch coat," which receives a grooved surface with a special scratching tool; a sand-finished "brown coat," which keys into the scratch coat; and a finish, or "color," coat, which is usually cementitious. During the 15 years that I've been building custom homes in Santa Fe, N.M., I've used three-coat stucco on most of my company's projects. Two Coats in One In the past seven or eight years, however,