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Cutting vent holes in stucco

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  • Cutting vent holes in stucco

    Hi Guys,

    I need to route vent ducts from a clothes dryer (4 inch) and a bathroom exhaust fan (6 inch). In both cases, I want to exit the building through a side wall. The wall is stucco that's about 1 to 1-1/4 inch thick. There's the "chicken wire" stucco netting embedded in it.

    I've cut fairly large diameter holes in this stucco before to add outside light fixtures but it took time and I have to believe there's a better way. I used a cheap import hole saw, which was of course destroyed, to score the stucco, then chipped it away with a chisel - clipping the wire with cutters. It worked and believe it or not turned out very clean, but was really slow. The tool section at HD has large bi-metal hole saws but they're very expensive - which would be ok, but I'm pretty sure the stucco will destroy even a good holesaw.

    How do you guys handle this? I thought about drilling a bunch of 3/8 holes around the circumference and then chipping out the core but this seems like a lot of work... maybe this job will just be a lot of work?? My biggest drill motor is a Milwaukee 1/2". I don't have a rotary hammer or hammer drill... do I need one?

    Thanks for the help!

    Last edited by Andy_M; 05-17-2009, 11:34 AM.

  • #2
    Re: Cutting vent holes in stucco

    andy, i have diamond core bits, but for stucco there's a pretty easy way to get it done

    h.d. sells a grit edge hole saw used for recessed lights. they are made by remington i believe. look in the electrical section or tool section.

    comes in both the 4'' range and 6'' range.

    not super cheep, but will drill plenty of holes.

    also a 4.5'' diamond grinder will do a good job of cleaning up your 1/4'' holes to cut a circle

    take some photos and post them, before, during and after.

    this will also help others who need it for their home.

    good luck and wear your safety glasses with that grinder

    phoebe it is


    • #3
      Re: Cutting vent holes in stucco

      Hi Rick,

      Thanks! I saw that Remington grit hole saw at HD but the package didn't say "stucco", "concrete" or "tile", and when I saw it was for can lights I thought "sheetrock"... and thought it might not be up to the task. But I'll pick 'em up next time I'm there and hopefully pop those holes in. I never mind spending a few bucks for a tool that does the job right.

      Too bad I have a rig for cutting out can lights already or I could get double duty from this! I'm installing a boat load of both 6" and 4" can lights in my house... would be perfect!

      And I'll get some snapshots, too.

      Thanks again! Bet you just saved me a ton of time and sweat (it's 100 degrees plus here in CA). I'll probably cut the holes tomorrow or Tuesday.




      • #4
        Re: Cutting vent holes in stucco

        Here's the follow up --

        Photo 1 is the tool that Rick recommended, the RemGrit hole saw. About $30, this cuts a 6-3/8” hole. This size is perfect for 6" can lights and also ideal for a wall penetration for 6” duct as well. I was originally a bit concerned that this is sold as a tool for cutting holes in drywall and ceiling tile - a far cry from stucco. But, just as Rick said, it worked great.

        Photo 2 shows the 1/4“ pilot drill bit that comes with the tool. Since the tool is intended for drywall and ceiling tile, it’s supplied with a regular twist drill. The stucco, being sand and Portland cement, would be pretty hard on this drill.

        Photo 3 is the proper type of pilot bit – a carbide tipped masonry bit. This will hold up much better in stucco.

        Photo 4 shows the stucco, from the outside of the house, with the pilot hole drilled. I’m installing vent ducting in the attic, so I located the ducting then drilled the pilot hole from the attic side of the wall - this is the "exit" hole. But once the pilot hole was drilled, I thought it would be safer to drill the hole from the outside. I didn't want to break a chip off of the stucco on the outside, as might happen when the tool exits. In my case, this stucco has the color mixed in and repairs would be a pain.

        I was expecting the process to be slow and painful. But, the entire cutting operation only took about 90 seconds! I also expected to need my ginormous Milwaukee ½” corded drill, since my 18V DeWalt doesn’t like holesaws over about 2” (and that’s pushing it). But, the RemGrit gizmo cut through the stucco very easily, with little strain on the cordless drill. Be sure to set the drill to low speed – the RemGrit max speed is 200 rpm. Photo 5 shows the core.

        Photo 6 is the hole in the stucco. Nice and clean, with no touch up required at all. The tool went right through the stucco net – I never even felt it.

        So that’s a painless way to cut a large diameter duct hole in stucco. Thanks to Rick for recommending the RemGrit tool. It’s a bit pricey but it does a clean job, and does it very quickly.

        Thanks again Rick for the great advice!

        Attached Files


        • #5
          Re: Cutting vent holes in stucco

          That's some pretty THICK stucco you have there, it must be the good old school stucco. How old is it?


          • #6
            Re: Cutting vent holes in stucco

            Yup, its just over an inch thick... which is exactly why I wanted to find the easy way to make the penetration. That would be a lot of stucco to chip out! The house was built in 1968.



            • #7
              Re: Cutting vent holes in stucco

              My choice is to drill a circle of 1/4" holes with a roto hammer. Break out with hammer,
              snip wire with cutters. Lots of ways to do most jobs.
              I can build anything You want , if you draw a picture of it , on the back of a big enough check .


              • #8
                Re: Cutting vent holes in stucco

                Good job Andy. Thanks for the pics. I drilled thru stucco once. Ruined an expensive 5" or so hole saw. It was at a convent where I installed plumbing on the first floor so Sister could have her washer and dryer on the first floor. She's the only nun left, she's retired with bad wheels so the trip to the basement carrying loads of laundry was too much. I am not even Catholic, but I did this job for not much more than parts. The money came out her checkbook. She is a real sweetheart, so I am sure she said prayers for me