An overview of the EIFS Window Header Specification
In this post we will take a look at the EIFS Window Header Specification. To properly address the window header when using EIFS a weep track needs to be installed at the head of the window. Note: the window rough opening first needs to be treated with the moisture barrier (refer to the post … for further details on applying the liquid moisture barrier to a rough opening). A metal window flashing is installed over the window head. The metal flashing is attached to the substrate and down over the window. The metal flashing should go up the substrate about 4″ and down over the window about a 1/2″. The EIFS approved weep track with drip edge is installed over the metal flashing. The weep track is installed about 3/4″ above the bottom inside corner of the metal flashing. This leaves a nice 3/4″ caulk joint between the metal flashing and the weep track. A rod of closed cell backer rod is placed in the 3/4″ joint between the metal and the track, and a bead of EIFS approved caulk (for more info on approved EIFS sealants, see the post EIFS Caulking and Sealants) is applied over the backer rod. The key with the caulk is not to allow it to cover the holes in the weep track.
Proper window prep for an EIFS application is very important
With new construction EIFS it is imperative to get the EIFS contractor in on the job site before the windows go in, so they can treat the window frames before they go in. If this is not done the entire system has a chance of failure before it even begins. Lets face it even the best windows can leak, and most times you did not buy the best, so it is a safe beat that sooner or later the windows will leak. If the window frame is now treated this is a recipe for disaster down the road. Even if you do not want or cannot get the EIFS guy down there before hand to treat the windows do it yourself. Simply apply flashing tape around the window frame. It has to cover the entire window jam, and come out on the face about 4 inches. Make sure the corners are cover well, and that there are no wrinkles in the tape. Of course, the EIFS manufacturers (Dryvit, Senergy, Sto) all carry a brand of the flashing tape, but in a pinch you can buy flashing tape at the local hardware store if it is going to be the difference between having all your windows protected or not. You may want to contact the EIFS manufacturer you are using for the project, and find out if not using the flashing tape, or not using the correct flashing tape is going to void your material warranty.
What happens when the windows are already in?
What should happen is that the windows come out, and the windows are treated with flashing tape. If the windows are not done correctly there is a good chance you are voiding the warranty. The specifications from the material manufacturer are very clear on the application of flashing tape around the windows.
How do you apply the Flashing Tape?
You start at the bottom of the window sil. The Flashing tape should go all the back to the inside edge of the sil jam, and down four inches onto the face of the wall. The tape should be cut six inches longer than the window opening to allow the tape to go up the window frame on each side by at least three inches. Use your knife to cut along three inch vertical and lay the tape down on to the face of the wall. Make sure there are no wrinkles in the tape. Apply a small piece of tape in the corner that goes all the way to the edge of the sil jam out and onto the face of the wall at least four inches. The apply the two verticals the same way and finally the top of the window is applied.
What qualifies as Flashing Tape when it comes to EIFS?
When it comes to EIFS there are very trick rules, and variations of products is to be done very carefully as not to void your warranty. I will use Dryvit® and its particular material line to address these products used for window treatments. There are several products you can use to treat the windows with. Dryvit’s AquaFlash® being one of the best.
This post actually started from another post, and I wanted to expand on it as it is such an important topic.
Attaching things to EIFS is not rocket science but you need to know what to do
I had a lady call me the other day wanting to know the correct way to fasten her hose holder to the outside of her EIFS home. She could not get it to stay on the wall. This is actually a very good question, because there is a very specific way to install things to the outside of this cladding (Exterior Insulation and Finish System also known as Dryvit ® or synthetic stucco) whether it is a hose holder or a down spout for a gutter. First of all you are going to have to use a screw long enough to go through the system. Typically you will have between 1 1/2 inches to 4 inches to go through. You can tell how thick the material is by checking the bottom. The Synthetic Stucco will stick out from the wall and you can measure it there. Use a 3 or 4 inch screw and a 3/8 inch piece of PCV pipe. Drill a hole with a 3/8’s drill bit into the cladding where you want the screw to go. Stick the PCV pipe in the hole and make a mark where it is flush with the wall. Remove the PCV pipe, and cut it on the inside of the line as not to have the pipe stick out past the wall, but remain flush with the Synthetic Stucco finish. Apply adhesive (PL-Premium®, found at your local hardware store) to the outside of the PCV pipe and insert it in the hole you just drilled. The PCV pipe should sit all the way back to the substrate (OSB), and come out flush with the stucco surface. It is very important that the pipe is a tight fit, and the adhesive should be around the end that is outward at the Exterior Insulation and Finish System surface to make a good seal. Wipe any excess adhesive away with a damp cloth before it drys. Now, fill the pipe about half way with silicone caulk, and screw your hose to the wall using the holes you just made. When you screw the screw into the pipe excess caulk will come out the PVC pipe again use your damp cloth to remove any excess caulk that gets on the stucco’s finish coat or top coat. That is the old school way of doing it, and of course nowadays you have a fancy new way of doing it, and that would be a Corrosion Resistant Fastener and Sleeve Set. Myself I still use the PVC pipe and it works great, and like I always say if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. If I was doing a large house or building that had down spouts I would however use the Corrosion Resistant Fastener and Sleeve Set’s just to save a ton of time.
Well, there you go, that is the correct way of attaching things to your Synthetic Stucco cladding.
The last thing you want to do is just run screws into your this cladding system, as it will create penetrations that water can enter the system and cause problems down the road.
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DIY EIFS – Do It Yourself EIFS Repairs
Attaching things to EIFS / Dryvit ® / Synthetic Stucco
General Contractor and Homeowners with EIFS projects
Do do list for general contractors and homeowners with EIFS projects
First thing for a general contractor or a homeowner to do is to educate themselves on the EIFS process and the new advancements in the industry so they know what they want. The Next Generation EIFS is a much improved system, and you should demand your contractor comply with its new standards. An air/water barrier is a must for all wood framed construction now, whether or not, you are using Synthetic Stucco.
The second thing that is a must with new construction is to get the contractor in on the job site before the windows go in, so they can treat the window frames before they go in. If this is not done the entire system has a chance of failure before it even begins. Lets face it even the best windows can leak, and most times you did not buy the best, so it is a safe beat that sooner or later the windows will leak. If the window frame is now treated this is a recipe for disaster down the road. Even if you do not want or cannot get the stucco guy down there before hand to treat the windows, then do it yourself. Simply apply flashing tape around the window frame. It has to cover the entire window jam, and come out on the face about 4 inches. Make sure the corners are cover well, and that there are no wrinkles in the tape. Of course, the manufacturers (Dryvit, Senergy, Sto) all carry a brand of the flashing tape, but in a pinch you can buy flashing tape at the local hardware store if it is going to be the difference between having all your windows protected or not. You may want to contact the manufacturer you are using for the project, and find out if not using the flashing tape, or not using the correct flashing tape is going to void your material warranty.
The third thing to do is keep a close eye on the Exterior Insulation and Finish System progress, and make sure no corners are being cut. One of the main things that the contractors will not do is take the base coat all the way back to the substrate around the window and door expansion joints. On an Synthetic Stucco project the windows and doors will have a 3/8″ to 5/8″ expansion around the windows and doors. Typically the contractor will run the base coat on the face of the foam, but not turn it into the expansion joint. This is tedious and time consuming work to use a margin trowel around every window and door to make sure the base coat is applied all the way back to the substrate, but it is a necessary one. If the base coat is not applied in the expansion joint you have exposed foam. The expansion joint is caulked, and when the caulk fails over time it creates a place for water to get behind the system. The caulk will fail quick as it does not stick well to the exposed foam like it does the base coat. your caulk should be low modulus, high performance, one-part, moisture curing silicone joint sealant. A closed cell backer rod should be used when caulking as well. The closed cell backer rod will not absorb water.
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When it comes to EIFS caulking and sealants it is something you really have to take seriously
According to Dryvit, Tremco Commercial Sealants and Waterproofing’s Spectrem® 1, Spectrem® 3, and Spectrem® 4-TS are all approved sealants.
Here are the individual product descriptions from Tremco Commercial Sealants and Waterproofing
Product Description: Spectrem® 1 is an ultra low modulus, high performance, one-part, moisture curing silicone joint sealant.
Spectrem® 2 is a medium modulus, one part, high performance, neutral cure silicone sealant ideal for a variety of caulking and glazing applications.
Spectrem® 4-TS is a multi-component, neutral-curing, low-modulus silicone sealant specially formulated for use in dynamically moving building joints with + / – 50% movement.
Using the proper sealant on an EIFS project is very important. If you use the the wrong type of sealant it may fail prematurely or even worst it may actually eat away at the foam. If you use Tremco sealants on your Dryvit project you can get a two year extension on your warranty. That of course, is only on a Dryvit warranty, it does not apply to all EIFS manufacturers.
As it happens the next generation of EIFS has learned a lot from the last generation
From 1969 to about the year 2000 was the first generation of the product where the Synthetic Stucco foam was installed directly to the substrate of a house. Where the system’s exterior itself was the weather barrier. Before the year 2000 building codes did not require a secondary moisture barrier. The IRC (International Residential Code) in 2000 required this secondary moisture barrier on all sidings used over wood framed construction. The problem with the system itself being the water barrier is that when any moisture infiltrated the system there was nowhere for it to escape. A properly installed first generation system application that has been maintained has a very good chance of not having any problems. The product can be installed right, and the caulk and sealants maintained over the years, and still a window or roof leak can cause major damage over time on a first generation Synthetic Stucco home. However, you can still have a first generation home inspected, and after passing the inspection get a warranty on the home through The Moisture Warranty Corporation.
The Next Generation of EIFS has grown and learned from the past along with the entire building industry. The unprecedented testing done has helped many industries, and has had an impact on the building codes. With the addition of a Air/Water barrier to the Exterior Insulation and Finish System process has made significant improvements to the overall performance of the product, and is now mandatory on all wood framed construction whether you are using Exterior Insulation and Finish System or not. The next generation of EIFS has been proven to drain water effectively. This overcomes the major issue with first generation system.
The Next Generation of EIFS is a superior material, and out preformed all other exterior wall claddings (including brick, stucco, concrete block, and cementitous fiber board siding) in the Hygrothermal Performance testing by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which was funded by The US Department of Energy and EIMA. A study by The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) shows that over a 50 year life cycle of a building, the carbon footprint of Exterior Insulation and Finish System is 1770 compared to brick at 8303. We are talking some huge numbers here, as Dryvit, one of the leading manufacturers, boast ‘over 2 billion square feet of Synthetic Stucco applied’ you can begin to imagine what a positive impact having such a smaller carbon footprint has had on the environment.
Benefits of The Next Generation of EIFS – Superior Cladding
Thermal bridging virtually eliminated
Improved IAQ (Indoor Air Quality)
Improved overall energy performance of a building
Helps keep structural members at a consistent temperature, which extends life expectancy
The constant temperature helps structure member movement and stress from temperature swings that lead to cracking in concrete and stucco walls.
Dewpoint is eliminated
Vapor diffusion from condensation is minimized
Deterioration of batt insulation from condensation is minimized
Mold growth due to condensation is virtually eliminated
Rusting of metal fasteners and framing from condensation is minimized
It has low levels of volatile organic compounds as know as VOC’s
It’s carbon footprint is 5 times smaller than brick
It saves money in construction costs
It’s is more energy efficient
ASHRAE (American Association of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-conditioning Engineers) Standard provides minimum requirements for energy efficient design of buildings – the product meets these requirements
According to ASHRAE 90.1 2001 – 2 inches of E.I.F.S. offers the equivalent energy efficiency performance of 8 inches of fiberglass insulation in a wall cavity.
This product puts the continuous insulation on the outside of the building where insulation works best.
EIFS is in the International Building Code and the International Residential Code
It provides the continuous insulation (CI) described in ASHRAE 90.1, which is required by the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC)
It can also contribute to LEED certification
It’s the only cladding that has an air-barrier, insulation and aesthetics all in one system, which is installed by a single contractor, with a single warranty
The product has a very low Global Warming impact, where brick has a very high Global Warming Impact
It may not be faster than a speeding bullet and it can not leap tall buildings, but The Next Generation of Exterior Insulation and Finish system is a Super Cladding when compared to the other leading Cladding’s.
If you can see every piece of foam on the wall the applicator has missed a crucial step
The other day a came across an EIFS house that I could see every piece of foam on. I have seen some EIFS applications where in the right sunlight you could see a few pieces of foam, but this was the worst you could literally see every piece of foam. The home owner naturally asked me how this could have happened. Apparently the contractor told him that is just how it looks. I can tell you that, that is not true. There is a few reasons that could have happened and in this case it was probably all of the above. If the foam is not rasped or rasped correctly you will be able to see the foam pieces after the job is done. Also, the adhesive used to adhere the foam to the wall can get in between the pieces, and cause gaps. The gaps will dry at a different rate due to moisture and heat flow, and that will cause them to be seen. I have purchased foam that was not all exactly the same thickness, which if not rasped down will cause the pieces to be seen, but this is very rare I have only seen this a couple times in my 23 years in the industry.
In the case I just seen I am sure they did not rasp the foam at all, and when sticking the foam they did not make sure the pieces where applied tightly together, which caused the finished product to look like that. To fix the wall it now needs to coated with two layers of base coat. The first layer to fill in all the seams to even them out. The second layer is a complete coat over the entire wall to blend everything together. This process to repair the wall takes a highly skilled plasterer. Short of that you would have to re-stick the entire wall, essentially redoing the wall over the existing EIFS.
In most cases I will not promote or talk about any one particular product, but when it comes to an Air and Water Barrier I am vary familiar with EIFS industries Air and Water Barriers that BASF produces. Pretty much every manufacturer has a version of a Fluid Air and Water Barrier, and I have used these products for years, and you have to love them. They are easy to apply, and cost are effective. You really get the most bang for your buck when you use this air/water barrier. This air/water resitive barrier is a one-component fluid-applied vapor permeable product. It can be troweled, painted, brushed or sprayed on to an approved substrate. It meets ICC-ES AC212 water-resistive barrier tests, meets requirements of ICC-ES AC 148, Meets ASTM D 1970 Nail Sealability Requirements. The EIFS Air and Water Barrier is a liquid applied, continuously bonded membrane that eliminates seams, lap joints and staples. It’s low Volatile organic compounds or VOCs make it safe for workers, and the environment. It is also Nonflammable as applied. In most situations it can be applied in a single pass. It provides excellent secondary moisture protection behind most wall claddings including EIFS.
EIFS – Exterior Insulation and Finish System – Synthetic Stucco – Dryvit ™ – Senergy ™ – Sto ™
Note: The EIFS Air and Water Barrier system talked about here is based on BASF’s Air and Water Barrier product. All major manufacturers of EIFS have a similar product. This website is in no way promoting or endorsed by any one of these companies and there names, and trade marks are property of their respected companies.
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