Bottle-dash stucco

There are several architectural features that quite distinctly define Metro Vancouver: the Vancouver Special, forests of glass condominium towers, west coast modernism and the oddest one of them all – bottle-dash stucco. Predominately found in Vancouver, bottle-dash stucco appears throughout the Lower Mainland  and occasionally in the rest of the province.

Bottle-dash stucco exterior
Bottle-dash stucco exterior on house in East Vancouver. Photo: C. Hagemoen

Also known as ‘beer bottle’ stucco, ‘broken bottle’ stucco or ‘crushed bottle’ stucco, ‘bottle-dash’ stucco is something of an enigma.*** If you are not familiar with what it is, houses with bottle-dash (unlike pebble-dash) have bits of glass (most often brown beer and green pop bottles), instead of the more commonly used rock bits, embedded in the exterior stucco finish. I have been curious about bottle-dash stucco since I was a child and first saw it on my great aunt’s house in East Vancouver.  Back in the 1970s and into the 1980s, it was quite common to see it on Vancouver houses of a certain era. When I decided to research bottle-dash stucco, I found that there was very little historical information about it.

Broken brown beer bottles and green pop bottles make up this bottle-dash stucco sample. Notice how the glass catches the light compared to the pebble-dash. Photo: C.Hagemoen
Broken brown beer bottles and green pop bottles make up the colour portion this bottle-dash stucco sample. Notice how the glass catches the light compared to the pebble-dash. Photo: C.Hagemoen

But after a bit of digging, I found out a few general facts about stucco from local historian, John Atkin and a local website called the Stucco Doctor.

Basically, stucco is comprised of an aggregate, a binder, and water. It is applied wet and hardens to a very dense solid. Stucco in some form goes back to ancient times, however, the form of stucco that most of us are familiar with, made with Portland cement, was invented about 250 years ago.

In the 20th C, the process was to apply stucco onto wooden lathe (new construction) or it was applied on galvanized chicken wire attached over existing siding.  Stucco is traditionally applied in 3 coats – the scratch coat, the brown coat and the finish coat. It was the finish coat where the colour and/or texture was added and creativity could shine. For ‘dash’ stucco, after the first two coats were applied and dried, a final mixture of cement and lime was applied, and while still fresh had aggregate dashed into it with a scoop.

In BC, it wasn’t until the 1920s and 30s when stucco became the “popular choice for houses”.  According to John Atkin, it “was a key element of the French and English revival styles popular in North America.” Initially, this style of stucco was part of the structure of the house. It was a little later that stucco became more decorative, as various dashes were added to its surface.

In the early days the aggregate for dashes was mostly just simple beach or river gravel. In the earliest example of this style of finish, one can occasionally find sea shells, crab legs and other such bits. Starting as early as the mid 1930s more refined crushed rock (like white quartz and black obsidian) was used to impregnate the surface. This style of finish is known as pebble or rock dash.

Sample of 'salt and pepper' pebble-dash stucco. Photo: C. Hagemoen
Sample of ‘salt and pepper dash’ stucco. Pieces of black obsidian and white quartz are imbedded into the surface. Photo: C. Hagemoen
Rock-dash stucco with green, black and white stone. Photo: Ch. Hagemoen
Rock-dash or pebble-dash stucco with a green, black and white stone finish. Coloured rock like this green chartruese example and other colours  like pink, were available in the 1960s and 1970s to add colour thus replacing the use of the hazardous broken glass. Photo: C. Hagemoen

Like most things ‘west coast’, we did things a little differently. Bottle-dash stucco shows up in new construction and on older houses in the 1930s and 1940s. An apparent local variant to rock-dash, bottle-dash was used to add some colour and sparkle to the stucco finish. Crushed glass (brown beer bottles, green pop bottles, clear milk bottles and blue milk of magnesia bottles) was added to a white quartz aggregate.

Some rock-dash stucco can be quite dynamic (especially the later versions of it), but it seems that the addition of glass really steps it up a notch.

Green bottle dash
Broken bits of green bottle highlight this ‘salt and pepper’ dash stucco garage exterior in east Vancouver. Photo: C. Hagemoen

In her 2004 book, Bungalow Details: Exterior, author Jane Powell comments on her first experience with bottle-dash stucco:

When I first saw this product in Canada, it looked like a variant of pebble-dash with some kind of shiny pebbles in it. But, no, it was explained to me in the sort of hushed tones that preservationists usually reserve for aluminum siding, [Bottle-dash stucco] was retrofitted onto numerous Canadian homes with the encouragement of the government. The shiny pebbles were, in fact, crushed beer bottles…I guess you have to admire the recycling aspect.

For older buildings (like the one in the photo below), rock-dash or bottle-dash was an inexpensive way of insulating houses. The “stucco-ization” of older wood frame houses was encouraged by the government. Federal government grants were available to homeowners through the 1970s to encourage its use. John Atkin explained that the application of exterior stucco was also seen as a way to “quickly modernize the house and hide the signs of renovations – especially as steel and aluminum windows were being promoted by the same grant program to replace ‘old-fashioned’ wood windows”. Retrofitting new windows of a different proportion often left homeowners with ugly patches in the siding. Stucco could hide the scars of renovation.

Edwardian wood frame house with two types of dash stucco - bottle-dash and 'salt and pepper' dash, west side of Vancouver. Photo: C.Hagemoen
An Edwardian wood frame house with two types of dash stucco – bottle-dash and ‘salt and pepper’ dash, west side of Vancouver. Photo: C.Hagemoen

As many current homeowners can attest to, maintaining a painted wood siding home is a large commitment.  So, after two World Wars and the Depression the lure of easy upkeep and modernization must have been very enticing for local homeowners. A house updated with a bottle-dash (or other dash) stucco exterior requires little, if any maintenance.

Green and brown bottle shards in the stucco of this garage (and house) in east Vancouver. Notice how the painted surface ages and the bottle-dash stucco still looks in good shape. Photo: C. Hagemoen
Green and brown bottle shards in the stucco of this garage (and house) in east Vancouver. Notice how the painted surface ages and the bottle-dash stucco still looks in good shape. Photo: C. Hagemoen

Unlike regular rock-dash stucco which was quite common in North America, bottle-dash stucco seems to be a purely Pacific Northwest phenomenon. I would suggest that it must have been a Canadian invention, though I have found no confirmation of that fact. On a couple of online discussion forums I found some references to instances of bottle-dash stucco appearing in the Lower Mainland and occasionally in the rest of the province. There was also mention of bottle-dash stucco cropping up on a few homes in Alberta and Washington State. Historian, John Atkin believes the reason you don’t see much of bottle-dash stucco in the States was due to the popularity of aluminum siding in the post WW2 period.

Sparkly stucco
Bottle-dash stucco sparkling in the afternoon sun on the exterior of a multi-dwelling building in East Vancouver. Photo; C. Hagemoen

Historic Hoy House in Quesnel, B.C. is early evidence of bottle-dash stucco appearing outside of the Lower Mainland.  It was the home of C.D. (Chow Dong) Hoy and his family. C.D. Hoy (1883-1973) was one of Canada’s most famous early photographers. Between 1909 and 1920, Hoy took more that 1,500 photographs of the Chinese, First Nations, and Caucasian pioneers in Quesnel and the Cariboo region. At the time of its construction in 1934, Hoy House was the first house in Quesnel to have a stucco exterior, or more specifically, a bottle-dash stucco exterior. In her 2009 biography, I am Full Moon: Stories of a Ninth Daughter, Lily Hoy Price recalls the day in 1934 when her family showed their new house to the community.

They admired the intricate exterior stucco which my father described in his journal to his children: “The red colour is from the rocks packed in from Red Bluff just outside of Quesnel and carefully screened by hand. The green in the stucco is made of crushed ginger ale bottles and the amber is from smashed beer bottles. The white is marble brought in by train from Vancouver.” A man named Frank Hill applied the stucco…. While most people admired the house, others eyed it skeptically. They believed a stucco house couldn’t and wouldn’t withstand the frigid Quesnel winters and, consequently, wondered about my family’s sanity.

Close-up of multi-coloured bottle-dash stucco exterior. Photo: C. Hagemoen
Close-up of multi-coloured bottle-dash stucco exterior. Photo: C. Hagemoen

My personal memories of  bottle-dash stucco centre around my great aunt’s house on East Georgia in Vancouver. My mother told me that my great Aunt’s house was purchased as a new build in 1946 already covered in the bottle-dash stucco.The exterior of her house was similar to the house above – from a distance it was a spotty, light reddish brown. But up close, that was another story!

Stills from home movies of my great aunt's house in east Vancouver ca. 1957 & 1964. The exterior was multi-coloured bottle dash stucco applied when the house was newly constructed in 1946. My great uncle drinks a beer, possibly providing material for future bottle-dash applications.
Stills from home movies of my great aunt’s house in east Vancouver ca. 1957 & 1964. The exterior was multi-coloured bottle dash stucco applied when the house was newly constructed in 1946. My great uncle drinks a beer, possibly providing material for future bottle-dash applications.

Predominated by bits of brown and green glass, my aunt’s house also had bits of blue glass dotting its stuccoed surface. My mother once told me that when she was young, she recalls rare instances when bits of red glass were found. When I was a child, I was fascinated by the bits of coloured glass on my great aunt’s house and was scolded for picking out the bits of glass. I even made several attempts to try and find the rare bits of red amongst the sea of coloured glass – a futile effort not unlike my childhood searches for a lucky four-leaf clover (who didn’t spend their childhood looking for those!)

I never found the elusive red glass bits in the stucco on my aunts house, probably picked out by a previous generation of children. So I can’t tell you how excited I was to find a piece of it in the stucco of a house (see photo below) just down the street from where I currently live. Small victories.

Multi-coloured, broken-glass dash stucco includes the elusive red glass! Photo: C. Hagemoen
Multi-coloured, broken-glass dash stucco includes the elusive red glass! Photo: C. Hagemoen

I was disappointed by the limited information on bottle-dash that I was able to glean.  As I still have many unanswered questions.  For example, why broken glass was ever chosen as a dash medium in the first place? Perhaps it is a simple case of an excess supply of glass? An early attempt at recycling? Or simply a cheap way to add some colour to stucco? Under the often dull, gray skies of Vancouver the aesthetic appeal of coloured glass in stucco might have been a cheap and cheerful way to brighten things up. If anyone can shed some more light on the subject, I would be delighted to hear from you.

I was surprised, however, to discover that when you are actively looking for it, you can still see many examples of bottle-dash in Vancouver today. A testament to its durability. Though I suppose as the years continue to go by and property prices increase, the instances of bottle-dash will diminish as older homes are torn-down, renovated or restored, and even painted. My great aunt’s house still stands, but the current owners have chosen to paint the exterior, in an attempt to bring the house into the 21st Century.

Painted bottle dash
Painted bottle dash exterior in east Vancouver. Photo: C. Hagemoen

According to John Atkin “stucco is a fascinating topic and a misunderstood building material.” I have to agree, especially here in Metro Vancouver,  where we have been plagued by the “leaky condo crisis.”  During the condominium construction boom of the 1980s and 1990s, acrylic stucco was improperly applied, resulting in mass building envelope failure. Stucco is a reliable building material when done correctly – bottle-dash stucco houses are a perfect example of this. I guess they just don’t make ’em like they used to!

*** UPDATE: A reader, Neale, informs me that the commercial name for bottle-dash was Sparkle Stucco. Neale says his friend told him that his father and uncle were the Vancouver area distributors of this stucco in the 1950/60s. I found a listing in the city directories of the time for Stucco Supply Co. – “stucco dash of all types” – they were located at 937 Main Street in Vancouver.

One of my favorite examples of bottle dash. A house in East Vancouver, that always sparkles in the sun.
Since writing this post I have noticed even more excellent examples of bottle-dash around the city. Here is one of my new favorite examples of bottle dash. A house in East Vancouver, that always sparkles in the sun.

POST SCRIPT: Since I wrote this post in February 2014, I’ve gotten a lot of questions (see comments) from people about how to remove, repair or fix their bottle-dash. I’m sorry, but I can’t offer any help there. I’m not a stucco specialist, a contractor or even a home owner. My only experiences with bottle-dash are my childhood memories and my appreciation of it from a far.

POST POST SCRIPT: I recently had an updated version of this post published in Scout Magazine. It incorporates information from some of the readers who have commented on this orginal post.

Sparkly bottle-dash stucco house! Photo: C. Hagemoen

UPDATE – Here is a DIY tip from a reader in Victoria about how to patch your bottle-dash:

“After removing a deck, I tried to hire someone to patch my bottle-dash in Victoria and was told by a couple professionals that it is no longer manufactured. Here is a possible simple solution: take a short 2X4 and scrape off loose pieces all around the house, catching them on a tarp. I did this and came up with a wheelbarrow full of bottle-dash. The original stucco work is so well done, I couldn’t tell the difference between where I had scraped and where I hadn’t. Once you have enough chips, repair your area with stucco of similar color, and then throw the chips on.”


128 thoughts on “Bottle-dash stucco

  1. Painted!!??? Curse those current owners! I also remember trying to pick out bits of glass from that house. I have some photos taken of the inside and outside in about 1997 when I was living there. I’ll try to track them down to show you.

    1. Yes, though I didn’t indicate it… the blue painted bottle dash image at the end of the post is Nellie’s garage. It doesn’t look that bad, but it isn’t the same. I’d love to see images of the old place.

  2. I can remember elementary school in the 50s and the word came down from the principal’s office: fundraising, bring in your blue bottles which will be used in stucco.

    As an eager little guy I was quite enthusiastic until I was squeezed out as no one in the family used milk of magnesia… or any blue bottled medicinal stuff.

    Many years later, when I had our 1938 bungalow restuccoed, I was disappointed to find the bottle stucco was no longer done, so we had to live with a pebble dash. Loads of complements from the neighbours though!

    1. Thanks for sharing this Ralph, another piece in puzzle of bottle-dash. How interesting that they were actively canvassing for blue glass. I suppose they had plenty of beer and 7-up bottles!

      1. I spotted part of a product label on a bit of bottle-dash glass on an Edmonton house. A four leafed clover without every trying! I will try to photograph it. Is there an email address I can send the photo to?

  3. You are not the only one who tried to pry bits of glass off our great aunt’s home…I too tried to capture the little glass treasures…The more colourful the better… Thanks for the interesting post. I didn’t realise bottle-dash stucco was a pacific northwest phenomenon!

  4. The first house I lived in on my arrival in Vancouver, at Andrea’s parent’s place, was bottle-dash stuccoed! I’ve been fascinated by it ever since.

  5. I too was a bottle glass picker as a small child…I remember moving here from California and noticing right away the shiny bits on my grandparents house. I was dead set on getting some for myself.

    1. I crush my own bottles using a cement mixer and heavy steel chunks.Then I separate using steel screening of various hole sizes.
      Dashing glass on damp stucco must be an art form as 80% of the dash does not adhere.Have a quick way to retrieve that 80% so it can be reused.Perhaps the Portland and lime topping would enhance the dash retention?

  6. Pingback: Scout Magazine
  7. It’s proper name is Sparkle Stucco. My friend and mentor the late Peter Rolston told me his father and uncle were the Vancouver area distributors of this stucco.

      1. I think the name only applies to a predominately glass-based dash. Obsidian and (white) quartz is commonly known as salt & pepper dash.

  8. Sadly, the Hoy House in Quesnel has been redone with Hardi-plank and is now a dentist office. Our current house in Penticton has bottle dash stucco but it has been painted over by a previous owner.

    1. Yes it is very sad. My Great Aunt’s bottle dash exterior was painted over by the new owners. Glad to hear Penticton has (had) some examples of bottle dash.

    Who is a local supplier of broken sparkle glass?

    My stucco guy would like to use it but no one has it???

    Would really appreciate your help PLEASE!!!!!

    1. Thanks Roger! Since bottle dash stopped being used sometime in the late 50s/ early 60s I don’t think anyone is supplying broken glass for it. Also, with the bottle recycling/ refunds programs that have developed since then, I suppose it would be even harder for someone to get a supply of glass. Personally, I would love to see a revival of bottle dash. But I also understand that once you apply it (and other dashes for that matter) it is very hard to remove (if you want to change your mind 20 years later!). This is likely what made it a popular choice initially – its strength and the lack of maintenance needed. Sorry I couldn’t be more help. It does sound like a potential new business opportunity for the right person though.

    2. Research “Close The Loop”, a company in Pennsylvania that sells recycled materials, including the glass in many choices of colors and sizes. We built a custom mix to replace a large section of our bottle dash stucco that had broken off of our 1926 PA house. First I guessed, then I took a photo of a section of the house, drew a grid across it, and counted the pieces by color in each section, and calculated what % of each color would make a matching mix. It worked, and I now have two extra 5 gallon buckets for future repairs!

      1. PS – you can start with a sample box that will give you a few spoonsful of each color and size, in about 20-ish compartments. The company owner, Rita, is great to work with!

    3. My stucco home has quatrz and obsidian chips applied. Obsidian and quartz are available today in this form.

      1. Yes, pebble or rock dash stucco is still used today. But so far, haven’t heard about anyone using glass chips in this century!

  10. theres plenty of bottle rock dash in all the small towns of southern Saskatchewan.In Alberta the usually only used clear glass for the sparkle it was cheap and in style for a time

    1. Thanks for the info about bottle dash from Alberta and Saskatchewan… It seemed like it should be something that other parts of the country would use. I know one reader said she recalled it from Edmonton.

      1. My house in Edmonton has this “sparkle stucco” on it.
        There are lots of people that went to vinyl siding and are disappointed by how combustible it is. I know that there was talk by the fire chief to make vinyl siding illegal.
        I love how solid, safe and maintenance free my stucco is. 🙂

      2. I suppose at one time vinyl seemed more modern, but bottle-dash or sparkle stucco has stood the test of time. Glad you are enjoying your unique stucco.

  11. I own a home in the San Francisco Bay Area from the 20s, a Bungalow. The entire surface is EXACTLY that of the sample you show called ‘salt and pepper dash’ stucco. Pieces of black obsidian and white quartz are imbedded into the surface, as well as abalone shells. It is a thing of beauty and I have always been so curious about it. There are a few more old houses like mine I know of in my area, but unfortunately people don’t appreciate it and and taking it off. It is so durable and low maintenance and brilliant.

    1. I like the sound of abalone shells with the salt and pepper dash…very west coast. I agree that most don’t appreciate the durability and low maintenance of a bottle or rock dash stucco exterior. Thanks for letting me know about your bungalow in the Bay Area.

  12. In the late 1950s, I lived next to a house in Quincy, IL with multicolored glass stucco. I have been fascinated by it my entire life.

  13. I just bought a ‘bottle-dash’ house in Vernon. It was built in 1960. Most of the 60’s houses here are bottle dash on the top half and then some sort of wood siding for the bottom half of the house. Often people will scrape it down with a 2×4 and then paint it. Thanks for your post!

    1. You’re welcome. I thought there were more bottle-dash houses in the Okanagan, so thanks for confirming this. I’ve seen that style before (half dash/half siding). I’ve also noticed a lot of dual dash houses…. bottle dash on the top bit, and then another sort of dash on the bottom.

  14. I was thinking of recovering my bottle-dash stucco here in Victoria, but after reading your article I’m going to keep it as long as it lasts. I appreciate your research and hope to keep this historic finish for a long time. Thanks! Chris

  15. How do you repair siding with the broken green, brown & clear stucco??
    I need some help as I have patches on my older home that needs repairing!!

    1. Sorry, I have no idea. I just write about the stuff! 🙂 I would suggest you contact someone with exterior stucco expertise in your area. If they still produced yellow pages I would suggest you try there. Good luck.

    2. Find a stucco contractor who will try to match the color of the stucco itself. Then figure out the colors and sizes of glass bits you need. Of course you can break bottles – either in large canvas sacks by whomping the sacks on the driveway, or in a trash can with a hole in the lid, using a tamper through the lid to bash the bottles. Wear protective goggles etc! Then pick through it (wear good gloves) or screen it to get the sizes you need, and if you can, tumble it a bit to get off the sharpest edges. OR, you can buy pre-packaged glass bits at craft shops, shops that sell decorative glass for countertops or for fire pits (those bits are usually too large) , on Etsy or eBay, or google Glass Aggregate. To figure out the color mix I took a photo of part of our bottle dash stucco, then drew a grid over it, and counted the number of bits of each color in each square of the grid, put all that in Excel and figured out the percent for each color. Then I contacted Close The Loop, an up cycling company in Pennsylvania, bought a sample kit with bits of each color and size, and ordered the percents of what I needed. I was lucky enough to find a stucco contractor who had repaired a patch on our house a decade or so ago, and he was great. He knew how to do it (throw straight then whomp it into the wet stucco a bit with a trowel – do NOT fling it sideways or you’ll get weird broomstraw-looking straight lines. The resulting very large patch is perfect and I have a lot of glass leftover for the next repair!

  16. This is all over the city of regina. I remember my parents had it and now the home I own has it. Just green glass in mine now. very popular here.

  17. I live in a bottle dash stucco duplex in Calgary. The duplex was built by my former neighbor’s husband in the 70s. Their side has since changed hands 3 times since his passing. My newest neighbors wanted to update the look by painting the brick in front and either scraping and refinishing or painting the stucco. I’m on the fence for either right now.

    1. Cool. From what I understand it is quite difficult to remove the bottle dash. Most people seem to paint right over it, with some success. I hope they decide to keep it.

  18. Hello everybody, I got news for you. In spite of all your research you are very wrong – it is NOT a Pacific NW thing at all. I am from Saskatchewan and we still have THOUSANDS of homes that still have this type of stucco. There are also thousands more all across the province and into Manitoba. I am willing to bet that there are also some in Ontario. Very common in Canada.

    1. Yes Jayne, Several people have commented that in fact bottle dash can be found all over North America. But the strange thing is that there is still very little information about it. At least when I wrote the piece there wasn’t much. I guess my article has become very popular due to that fact! I should update the post to reflect the fact that there is bottle dash all over. As most people don’t seem to look at the comments…which is a shame because that is where we share the best info.

  19. I commented from Victoria a few months ago. At that time I was thinking of keeping my bottle-dash stucco, but I’ve decided to scrape off the loose pieces and put a new finish coat of stucco over the top. It should renew the stucco and be a more modern look, hopefully for another 50 years. I’ve got a couple wheelbarrows full of the chips, beer bottle chips and all, in very good shape. If someone is looking to repair or renew their beer bottle stucco, these white and brown chips will do it. It’s not available anymore anywhere. I’m asking $50 for my time in gathering it up, but if no one wants it, it will just go in a hole someplace. I’d like to see it get used, rather than thrown away.

    1. Hello- I too am in Victoria. Do you still have the bottle chips you scraped off? We need to patch some of our ‘sparkle’ stucco and would love to ‘recycle’!

      1. That’s great because I’d hate to waste them. I have a wheelbarrow full of perfect bottle-dash. It’s listed on Used Victoria under “Bottle-dash stucco chips” and I’ve cut the price in half for you. It was a lot of work to gather all that and keep it clean, and I’m happy to see it get used.

  20. Hi, We have an 1950’s type house with siding on the bottom & the salt & peper dash. We are re doing roof & painting it. Do you have any suggestions or links that may show some pics of these style of homes that have been updated on the exterior. In Nanaimo & really haven’t seen anything that looks good yet. We aren’t planning on hardy planking, just paint to improve the looks & it’s just up my alley, thanks

  21. I also own a home in central Alberta, with blue glass stucco. There are spots where it has come off and would like to know how to repair it. Or paint it. I am not a big fan of this type of stucco.

    1. Hi Karen, Sorry you aren’t a fan of bottle-dash. To repair or paint it I would consult a local professional house painter/and or Stucco specialist, they would have the best advice for you. Good luck.

      1. Would love to know how long the paint lasts, or how long a different coating lasts. My Edmonton, Alberta stone dash just looks like a dull light gray from a distance. Not much glass in it. Durable but out of date. There is painted horizontal wood siding below the stone dash.

        Preserve something old until it is valued as an antique, as a heritage building material, or modernize, that is the question! After reading this research and the comments, I am reminded of old heritage houses and heritage building store fronts which were ‘modernized’ in decades past. Such a loss!!!

      2. My great aunt’s house was painted by the current owners several years ago, and other than the fact they covered the bottle dash, it still looks good as far as the paint job goes. I guess it depends on the quality of the job.

    1. After removing a deck, I tried to hire someone to patch my bottle-dash in Victoria and was told by a couple professionals that it is no longer manufactured. Here is a possible simple solution: take a short 2X4 and scrape off loose pieces all around the house, catching them on a tarp. I did this and came up with a wheelbarrow full of bottle-dash. The original stucco work is so well done, I couldn’t tell the difference between where I had scraped and where I hadn’t. Once you have enough chips, repair your area with stucco of similar color, and then throw the chips on.

  22. This type of stucco often contains asbestos, so get it tested before you drill, shape or otherwise damage the material.

    1. Yes, many people have commented on this already. We can definitely say that bottle dash was used in Western Canada (west of Ontario) and Western USA.

  23. We live in a 1946 bottle-dash home in Victoria. After reading the article, I went outside to find lovely lilac-coloured glass, as well as broken chips of china, off-white and blue, shells, and, closer to the roof, something white with black capital letters, a partial word: “…HERE.” Maybe pottery?

  24. My parents’ house in Calgary (a typical bungalow in the area from c1960) remains fully clad in a multi-colour bottle-dash, while most neighbors have sided (fully or partially), painted or removed the finish. Not a crack in sight, partially due to the steel beam used down the center of the house which has kept it stable (the builder (Keith Homes) used steel beams in these track houses only for a short while, due to the cost and for fire code reasons).

    *I tried to include an image, but this format did not permit an image in the text box.

    1. Hi Robert, Thanks for the info about bottle dash in Calgary! I’m glad to hear it still looks good after all these years. I need to work on an update to my original post to include all the great information people have posted in the comments section. It would be great to have a way to see other people’s photos. ( I should figure out if that is possible).

      1. Not sure if you want to be responsible for the work required, but if you set up a gmail account, people can send images which you can post of the blog whenever you have the chance.

        Thanks for the response, BTW. I frequently find myself telling people about the surface finish on the house… 🙂

      2. Thanks for the suggestion Robert. I hope in the future I will be able to devote more time to my blog, including following up on some of the more popular posts.

  25. Thanks for your article. My grandmother’s house in Thunder Bay, Ontario was bottle dash and it always fascinated me too. My sister and I were often caught picking out the coloured glass bits! We had a variety of colours, I remember pinks, oranges, brown and turquoise. After she passed away and we sold the house the last thing I did was to pick one of each colour stone out. I wish I could find where I put them! The only time I saw houses like this since was travelling in Ireland. My grandmother’s parents who had built the house were Irish so after that I assumed the style had came from there!

    1. Thank you! what a wonderful memory! I’m glad to hear that bottle dash was also in Ontario. I never heard of pink glass! I wonder what that was originally? I recall seeing footage of houses in the UK and Ireland and I swear they look like bottle dash, but I was never able to confirm it. Thanks for letting me know you have seen them in Ireland.

      1. Our house has pink, also some of the china (blue and white, black and white, and some words) mentioned above. And some shells.

  26. Amazing!! I was just talking about this to a friend the other day.. So many scraped knuckles and skinned knees while playing around my childhood home and my grandparents place. Seemed like it was everywhere in the 70’s. I remember a friend of my fathers came over to repair a section, and saw how he did it. He took 7up (green), old style beer (brown), orange crush (clear) and an Italian antacid bottle (blue) and put them in a pillow case and smashed them up.And then, literally, threw handfuls onto the wet cement, pressing them in with a trowel. Istill have scars 40 years later from this stuff!

    1. Thanks Nick, glad you liked the post. It was pretty dangerous stuff for kids! 🙂 Thanks for sharing how your father’s friend repaired a section of the stucco…very cool. I imagine that was basically the process on how the bottle dash stucco was applied…minus the pillow case, of course.

  27. Well, this is really interesting. I know sparkle stucco isn’t made anymore, but the sparkles remind me of some of the finishes they use now on pools. They don’t use jagged glass but they do add glass beads and abalone to make the finishes sparkle. People should look into using something like that on their homes if they want sparkly stucco. Look for Pebble Radiance, Radiant Fusion. Arctic Coast, JewelScapes, StoneScapes, QuartzScapes are a few of the brand names.

    1. Yes, when I was googling broken glass aggregate I came up with a lot of those mixes for swimming pools. Some very pretty options!

  28. Bottle dash stucco is all over Alberta, also.

    As a kid, I remember my dad and his friends would help build houses with the local homebuilder during the summer.
    Us kids had the job of breaking up cases of bottles with hammers, and dashing it at the walls along with the bulk white & black glass fragments.

    You can still make out the painted on labels on some glass fragments of green 7-Up and brown and Orange Crush bottles.

    There was also Blue Milk of Magnesia, Clear, etc. for some added flair, depending on the wishes of the homeowner.

    1. So cool to hear your personal experiences with bottle-dash, Scott. Since writing this post a few years ago, I have discovered that bottle-dash was indeed all over the country and in the US as well. I also believe it makes an appearance in the UK as well.

  29. Part of my childhood in the 70’s was spent in Comox, but my grandparents lived, at that time, in Coquitlam. One of the things I always loved about visiting them was getting to see all the sparkly houses. To me, as a kid, Vancouver was Sparkle Town. I loved it! I still do. We moved away and I didn’t return until the late eighties, by which time they were starting to be covered in vinyl siding or painted over. I am so disheartened when I realize how few are left. Every remaining one I see, especially when the sun is shining and making it sparkle so beautifully, makes me very nostalgic and always makes me smile. I will truly miss them if they all disappear.

    1. Thanks for sharing your memories, Mary May, of “sparkle town”. When I first wrote this post I was also concerned about the lack of bottle-dash left, but since then I have actually been surprised by the number of examples of it I have spotted around town (easier to spot, of course, on a sunny day!). That said, they are definitely in danger of disappearing, like a lot of Vancouver’s built history.

  30. I own a bottle dash stucco house in Oakland, CA, USA. It was built in 1926. I have never seen this type of stucco before. Some friends were visiting Vancouver last month and sent me this link. It was great getting some history about this. I have, white rock (?quartz), blue, green, & brown glass.

    1. Wow, that is very cool to hear that bottle-dash is in Oakland, Ca. 1926 sounds very early for bottle-dash, maybe it was applied to the house at a later date? Or perhaps, this is one of the earliest examples of bottle-dash. I hope you are enjoying it.

      1. Our house in Pennsylvania was built in 1926. The second owner bought it in the early 60s with the bottle dash stucco already on it, and she assumed it was original to the house. Under the Stucco there is very thick Dutch Lap wood siding, so let’s guess the stucco was put on in the 30s-50s.

      2. Thanks for sharing all this information and replying to some of the comments PJ. I’m always interested to hear about people’s bottle-dash houses all over the world.

  31. Live in Saskatchewan and literally every house on our street is bottle-
    Dash with white stone including our house. Very common on houses built in the 1960-70 around here. Possibly even earlier.

  32. We own a house in central Pennsylvania with bottle dash stucco – all colors, green, brown, blue, red, and white (marble?). The house was built in 1926-28 and has Dutch lap siding, with the stucco on top of that. The builder / first owner sold it in the 1960s, and we bought it from the second owner in 2013. Second owner said the stucco was there when she bought it in the 60s, and as far as she knows its always been there…..but we have no evidence of when it was installed.

    One quite large area was sagging/bulging when we bought the house, and reinforced / attached back to the house with huge bolts of some kind. Unfortunately it’s gotten worse (squirrels are living inside) and we now are trying to find a stucco contractor to take down the bad area and re-stucco it.

    We’ve saved lots of glass bits, not enough to match it entirely, but it’ll be a help. We should also be able to get a bunch out of the area that’s coming down. The house has zero “regular” insulation – just plaster, lathe, whatever wood is behind the lathe, the thick Dutch lap siding, and the stucco. For no insulation, it does pretty well. We were told that part of the energy value of the bottle dash was that the shiny glass would reflect the sun and hence summer heat away from the house.

    1. So glad to hear about your bottle-dash house in Pennsylvania, Pam. I’m glad that you are trying to repair the damaged section, I wish you much luck. Thanks for the information about the energy value of bottle-dash, I knew it was considered for efficiency but didn’t know the reason why.

      1. Thanks for your quick response! I’d be happy to post or send photos; just let me know how.

  33. There are YouTube videos on painting stone dash. Not sure if glass would alter the results. Some videos show how to clean stone dash. This could improve the appearance so that painting is no longer chosen as a course of action. This video is informative on a better method compared to painting

  34. I live in a home in St. Joseph Missouri USA that has a bottle dash stucco finish . My grandfather bought the home in the early 50s and is now my home. As far as I can tell it is original stucco over terracotta block and believe it was built in the early 20s. I have never seen this finish on any other home.and. being a house painter I’ve seen mire then my for share of homes. Thanks you the history lesson on it

    1. Thanks for your comments Bob. How interesting that you seem to have the only bottle-dash house in your area. It would be interesting to know how (that finish) got there in the first place.

  35. Hi there!

    Very interesting article. Like the previous comment my house is the only house in my area with this feature. I like in Baltimore, MD in the states.

    What’s interesting is I have many different types of glass mixed in to mine. It must be anywhere between 10-15 different types/colors. In the different appraisals I’ve had no one has ever seen it. However, the appraiser told me she thought it was Italian glass and is original. My house was built in the late 29’s and is a bungalo.

    I’d love to send you some pictures to get your thoughts. Let me know if you’d be interested.


    1. Your house sounds really ineteresting Mike. Sounds really colourful. I’ve heard of pink and light blue glass in some bottle-dash, but have never seen it myself. I would love to see some pictures. I will email you privately and perhaps you can send me some photos of your house. Thanks.

    2. Mike, our house is in Chambersburg PA, roughly an hour from yours. The house was built in 1926 or 28 – I forget which at the moment. We also have lots of colors, more than I’ve counted, but from memory (I’m not there now) there are several greens, black, white, cobalt blue, turquoise blue, red, pink, white that looks like shells, a few shades of brown…….and the stucco is off-white, lightish grey. We try to collect all the bits that fall (or get rubbed) off, for future repairs.

  36. Thanks for the historical info.I just recently tried this stucco technique with mixed results.My stucco is over chicken wire and 12″ foam insulation pinned to a block wall.
    My crushed green blue and brown glass is not as vivid as the houses profiled as I soon realized that it takes a 4 times the glass “dashed” as gets embedded Also size matters…about 1/16-1/8 size shards will readily embed plus angle of dash must be almost perpendicular.Then cover with fine plastic and brushed to embed shards

    1. Thanks for your comment Donald and thanks for sharing your hands on experiences with bottle dash application! As you have described, it’s not as easy as it looks. I imagine it takes some practice to get an even and consistent coat. Good for you for trying.

  37. We have a bottle dash stucco house in Clackamas Oregon on a farm. It’s very beautiful
    I think it was built in the 1920’s
    It is kind of a Tudor style with shake siding on the upper level

  38. Thank you for this. We have a 4 bed 2 bath cape cod in Brown Deer, WI. It was built in the late 40s and the block used on the entire exterior is bottle dash stucco, except the glass is embedded in the brick and is not smooth like regular stucco.

  39. I remember how captivating the sparkly ‘new’ 60’s home were when I was a child.
    Fast forward 60 years…. We recently purchased a home in Thorhild Alberta with sparkle stucco. It has definitely stood up to the harsh northern elements. To my delight there are chips of turquoise stone embedded as well as the colored and clear glass, chips of black and white stone and something that appears to be chunks of rust coloured bloodstone.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experiences with sparkle stucco, Barbara. That stucco exterior is solid as a rock, I’m not surprised that it survived the harsh Alberta winters. The turquoise glass is a nice addition!

  40. Midwest Sparkle Dash!

    Our 1865 brick home along the Missouri River has Sparkle Dash of white quartz and obsidian applied.

    We’ve seen silent movie footage from approximately 1929 showing that the home already had stucco over the brick.

    I was birn in the upper northwestern part of the U.S. (Pierce County, WA).

    Having found out this style of stucco treatment originated near my birthplace, just thrills me. And having hosen to retire in Brownville Nebraska in a home finished in this style is heartwarming.

    We were considering painting over the Sparkle Dash. But after reading this article, we will not.

    Thank you for sharing.
    *pic available upon request)

    1. Hi Rox V.
      I’m always excited to hear about bottle dash, sparkle dash, or salt & pepper dash houses found in other parts of North America. Thank for sharing yours. I’m not sure if bottle dash actually originated in the Pacific NW, but it was certainly embraced wholeheartedly here. Like the US midwest, our Prarie Provinces also seem to have many examples of this type of stucco too.

  41. I was so excited to find your article. My daughter owns a historic home in Dubuque, Iowa with bottle dash stucco. That’s right, Iowa! Her stucco contains the green and brown, along with blue, a milky glass, and the elusive red. Lots of color variety! Dubuque is the oldest City in Iowa. We spoke with a man who does a lot of historic preservation in Dubuque and he said he’d never seen anything like it in the area. Her house was built in the 1930’s. We are wondering if someone with ties to Canada or the Pacific Northwest built the home? Has anyone else ever heard of Bottle dash stucco homes in the Midwest?

    1. Sue, I’m glad you found my article too. Since I started writing about bottle dash or Sparkle stucco I’ve heard from people like you that are outside of the Pacific Northwest who have bottle dash houses. Yes I have heard of some other examples on the American Midwest, not many but certainly it exists there. It would be interesting to find out who built your daughters house and to find out if they had a connection to this type of building material outside of Iowa. I know now that there are bottle dash houses found in Canada’s prairie provinces so maybe it trickled down to the US Midwest from there. Thanks for sharing your family’s bottle dash stucco story.

  42. This article is old, but I too have loved “broken glass stucco” throughout my life! I am an 80s baby but fondly remember a few of our homes having this finish.
    I can add to this be proudly confirming here in 2021 I just purchased a perfect 60s bungalow with a red brick front and all three remaining side having perfectly maintained and cared for obsidian and cream (base color) here in Calgary AB area!
    Great article! I’m an architecture enthusiast and have loved this finish and am glad to see it becoming iconic and uniquely Western Canadian!

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