What is EIFS stucco

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What is an ETICS?

EIFS is an abbreviation for Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems. Also known as synthetic stucco, the product refers to a multi-layer exterior coating that has been used in European construction since World War II when contractors saw it as a good way to repair buildings damaged during the war. Most repairs to European buildings have involved structures made of stone, concrete, brick, or other similar durable materials.

Some homeowners might think their home is made of traditional stucco and are often amazed to discover that the exterior cladding is the ETICS.

ETICS in North America

Although the EIFS Industry Association says the EIFS came to the United States in 1969, many North American construction companies began using ETICS in the 1980s, first in commercial buildings. Residential houses - mostly timber frame houses - using the same techniques that have been successful in Europe.

In contrast to previous applications, there are now 6 layers of ETICS

  1. An optional water-resistant barrier which is generally applied in liquid form and covers the substrate.
  2. adhesive for fastening the insulation board to the supporting structure (mechanical fasteners can be used in some cases).
  3. Foam insulation Panel that is attached to the outer wall surface, most often with glue.
  4. Basecoat, an acrylic or polymer-based cement material that is applied to the top of the insulation and then reinforced with fiberglass reinforcement mesh.
  1. Reinforcement fabric, embedded in the base coat material.
  2. Finish, a textured top layer that is decorative and protective.

ETICS layers combine to form a cover that does not breathe. This is fine if there is no moisture behind the cover, but if moisture penetrates it can become trapped behind the layers.

With no place to take away, the constant exposure to moisture can lead to wood rot, which can be detected through routine pest inspection.

What worked well as an outer shell for concrete and stone became a problem with wood problems. Moisture-related problems lead to individual and class action lawsuits from consumers. Keep in mind, however, that ETICS alone is not responsible for water ingress behind the surface, as water can penetrate traditional stucco as well.

The EIFS Industry Member Association reports the following and asked me to include this in our article:

"The EIFS layers combine to form wall cladding that is weather-resistant and vapor-permeable. As with any cladding, infiltration in and behind is important for a long service life. Several advances have been made in the field of ETICS over the past decade. One is drainage - Void that lies behind the foam insulation. This void is achieved either with vertical tape, an insulation board with vertical grooves on the back or in some cases with a drainage mat. Another is a complementary component called a WRB (Water-Resistive Barrier) This component provides additional moisture protection for the structure and is applied directly to the carrier substrate.

"These advances address some of the problems that emerged in the late 1990s when some ETICS-clad homes were damaged by water intrusion. Examination of the damage showed that water did not infiltrate through the ETICS, infiltrate through leaking Windows or Poorly Constructed Details At the time, the EIFS was the target of individual and class action lawsuits, although other cladding, including brick, stone, wood, and vinyl siding and conventional stucco, showed similar damage when installed with similar leaky windows. and bad construction details. "

Synthetic stucco versus traditional stucco

  • Synthetic stucco is soft and sounds hollow when tapped.
  • Traditional stucco is hard and brittle and sounds solid when tapped.
  • Press against the structure with your thumb. If you feel the target deform, it's ETICS.
  • Look for cracks. Traditional stucco is more prone to cracking, and the cracks are usually much longer than the smaller cracks typically found in ETICS, such as window openings.

Maintenance of ETICS

  • Every opening, such as door and window frames and the areas around the covers, must be sealed so that no water can penetrate behind the ETICS. If you recognize foam sheets on lights or door frames, for example, then you most likely have EIFS stucco on your house.
  • Gutters should be kept clean and positioned so that they can drain away from the house.
  • The foam should not run underneath the variety.
  • Objects that penetrate the stucco must be sealed.

In other words, no moisture should be allowed to seep behind the ETICS.

Signs of EIFS problems

  • Mold or mildew inside or outside of the house.
  • Puffy wood around the door and window frame.
  • Blistering, bubbling, or peeling paint.
  • Cracked ETICS or cracked sealant.

EIFS Today

Newer ETICS systems incorporate a drainage arrangement to prevent moisture from becoming trapped behind the cover. Ask a trusted builder for details on contemporary ETICS. Both traditional and ETIC stucco rely on secondary drainage systems to keep your basic structure dry.

You can find stucco and EIFS homes all over the United States. Stucco exteriors can last up to 50 years or more, but they seem better in hot, dry climates than in cold or wet, rainy areas. You will likely find more stucco houses in California, Texas, Florida, Arizona, and New Mexico. In colder climates like Minnesota or New York, for example, vinyl siding does better due to the extreme fluctuations in the weather as it moves with the house; when it's cold the vinyl contracts and when it's hot it expands.

Of course, then you have to look at a house with vinyl cladding. And it's not nearly as beautiful as a stucco house, regardless of whether it is traditional stucco or ETICS.

Edited by Elizabeth Weintraub, Household Buying / Selling Expert, with assistance from Scott Robinson, Public Affairs Director, EIFS Industry Members Association.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE # 00697006, is a Realtor Associate with Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.