I get this question a lot and I believe most people are not sure. If you have stucco on your home and you are trying to figure out what exactly it is, well you came to the right place. I will do my best in this article to explain the different types of stucco you may have on your home.
There are 4 basic types of stucco.
Synthetic Stucco – Also known as Dryvit ™ or EIFS (Exterior Insulation and Finish System). If you knock on this system it will sound hollow. The cement coat is only about an eight of an inch thick and the styrofoam is typically an inch and a half thick.
Traditional Stucco – If you knock on this system it will feel just like concrete. It will hurt your hand.
One Coat Stucco – Probably the hardest one to figure out as it is still pretty thick cement but you should be able to hear a slight hollow because of the foam, but will still hurt your hand when knocking on it.
Stucco Board – Probably the easiest to identify. This is a pre-manufactured board you buy at the store. There are trim boards around the four foot by eight foot pre-manufactured boards. Typically, four foot by eight foot and five sixteenths of an inch thick.
Exterior Insulation and Finish System consists of:
A moisture barrier (both cloth and liquid moisture barriers are available)
Top coat with aggregate (aggregate size determines the texture)
Traditional Stucco is
A moisture barrier (typically roofing felt)
One Coat Stucco is
A moisture barrier (typically roofing felt)
Stucco Board is
Four by eight pre-manufactured board (boards are installed directly to studs. There is no OSB installed typically)
Trim boards (the panel board seams are covered with the trim boards)
Now you should have enough knowledge to figure out what kind of stucco your house is clad with. Some types of stucco are much easier to determine, but for the most part it should not be to tell after reading all the information in this article. The one coat stucco is the hard one and it even makes determining the others harder. The EIFS is simple because it sounds hollow. The traditional is easy because it is hard like a rock. Stucco board is easy because it is four by eight panels trimmed out with wood boards, The one coat is in between hollow sounding and hard as a rock.
An Exterior Insulation and Finish System Inspection should be done before you buy a Synthetic Stucco home (Southeast Michigan call 888-407-2609).
Everyone knows to get your home inspected before you buy it, but there are a lot of people that do not know if you plan on buying a house clad with Exterior Insulation and Finish System you should have it also inspected by an EIFS professional to make sure the system is up to par and if it is not you need to know how much it is going to cost to fix it. Essentially, there are 4 things that every buyer should do before purchasing the home.
Have a professional do a visual inspection of the cladding. A simple visual inspection for the well trained eye can find many things on the exterior of a home that are missing or not done right.
The professional should be trained in thermal imaging, so he can perform infrared thermography on the home to find any moisture anomalies.
The professional should have an invasive moisture meter to confirm any moisture anomalies found by the thermal imaging.
The guy that comes out should be able to put together a quote for the cost of repairs.
As a buyer those are the four things I am looking for when I call someone to come out and look at a house I plan to buy. I have had some people suggest this is a conflict of interest as the guy doing the inspection is also the guy doing the repairs which has some merit, but for me I am an honest guy just giving the buyer what they need. If you call me to come out to inspect the home you will get a guy that has over 25 years experience in the industry with extensive training in moisture testing and trained in thermal imaging. I have been repairing this product for over 15 years. I know when, why and how this product fails. You would be hard pressed to find someone more qualified to inspect your home. That being said I am not a 3rd party EIFS (aka Dyvit or Synthetic Stucco) inspector because I do the repairs. To properly do repairs you have to be able to test the moisture behind the system. For that reason I own the moisture meter and thermal imaging camera and use them on a daily basis. Here is a list of my certifications. It is one thing to read the books and take the classes, but having over two and a half decades of hands on experience is something you just can learn in a book or classroom. Before doing repairs I always like to inspect the house with a visual inspection and then thermal imaging and lastly I confirm any anomalies found with the thermal imaging camera with my invasive moisture meter, which will read the moisture content of the substrate behind the system. By doing this I can get a pretty good idea of how much the repairs are going to cost. That being said I am NOT a 3rd party Exterior Insulation and Finish System inspector I am an EIFS repair guy. I have 26+ years hands on experience. I have training in Infrared Thermography. I have been using a Delmorst Invasive Moisture Meter on Exterior Insulation and Finish System houses and buildings for over 10 years. You will be hard pressed to find a more qualified guy to evaluate your Synthetic Stucco home.
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.
Have a Project? We can come out and take a look at it.
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.
Have a project in Southeast Michigan? We can come out and take a look at it. (Free Estimate)
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.
Commercial and Residential applications are two different animals – EIFS Commercial vs Residential
Applying EIFS to a Commercial building is totally different than applying EIFS to a house. One of the big differences between a building, and a house, when it comes to applying EIFS, is the roof. The roof of a house is completely different from a building. A residential roof line is much more complicated than a flat roof of a typical building. It is common for a roof to terminate right into the side of a wall, which creates a problem for water drainage. Normally the water from the roof runs down the flashing and off the roof into the gutter. This is a good system, until a layer of 1 1/2″ foam is applied to the substrate (OSB) of the house. With the EIFS on the house the water runs down the flashing, and right behind the foam creating major issues. This problem is cured by installing a kick out flashing, which kicks the water past the EIFS, and into the gutter. The roof is probably the most obvious difference, but also the windows and doors are different. Another major difference from a commercial project to a residential project it the contractor. Large corporations build commercial buildings and have a team of architects and engineers that spec and design the project, where as, in a residential project this is usually done on a much smaller scale. Residential projects are open to design, and construction short comings due to the lack of specific industry expertise. This issue travels down to the applicator as well. A large commercial builder has a host of EIFS applicators to choose from that have proven track records, where a local residential builder may not see EIFS often and do not have the access to quality applicators.
Make sure when you hire a contractor to build your EIFS home that they have a proven track record of building and designing with EIFS, and that the applicators that he uses are certified.
EIFS – Exterior Insulation and Finish System – Synthetic Stucco
I have wood siding on my house and it is in very bad shape, so I am looking for something that I can put on my house that is more stable. I have been asking everyone I can think of if I should do the EIFS product.
Well, good news! I researched it on the Internet, and this is what I found out about EIFS.
The Oak Ridge Laboratory found that, EIFS will out-perform other exterior sidings including brick, stucco, concrete block and cementitious fiber board siding.
Key Points of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory NET Facilities Research Project include: the Hydrothermal Performance of Exterior Wall Systems.
I was not sure what all of this information about EIFS meant so I continued to investigate. I found that the primary study goals were:
• To validate the moisture and thermal performance of EIFS wall systems
• To quantify the performance of EIFS over other types of exterior claddings
• To develop and calibrate a hygrothermal (moisture and temperature) computer model with the unique features of EIFS that will validate the computer model for all climatic regions
The Study Location of this study: Charleston, SC and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee
The approach to this Study was: keeping with the DOE’s strategy of promoting a whole-building approach to maintenance, building design, and operation. The project’s research considered the building envelope in its entirety, instead of studying component systems and studying isolated materials. Summarized below is the research approach:
• To characterize the moisture, and the thermal performance properties of critical construction materials and sub-systems that are used in exterior wall systems
•To confirm the predictions of a computer model by comparing them to the actual field results
• To conduct a field testing on a variety of exterior wall systems to determine their thermal, air leakage and moisture control performance in some severe-environmental conditions and real world with average environmental conditions, during the course of one year
•To employ hygrothermal modeling to simulate field tested exterior wall systems and determine if it is possible to improve critical cladding system elements, with the goal of optimizing it’s performance
• To design and develop methodology that will permit engineers and architects to optimize energy efficiency while still controlling the air and moisture transport that prevents potential fungal contamination and material deterioration of the indoor environment Facility Design. A special building was designed and constructed near Charleston, South Carolina to achieve these goals.
There were 15 exterior cladding configurations to be evaluated and integrated into one side of the building (southern exposure). All of the exterior claddings would be exposed to similar weather conditions. Placement of the exterior wall test panels and building orientation were determined after reliable study of historical weather patterns, and included the prevailing direction of precipitation.
I was very happy with this information, but I decided to go on and see if any other groups did studys on EIFS. Here is what I found.
EIFS Testing by The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
A 50 year complete life cycle analysis of EIFS by NIST (The National Institute of Standards and Technology)
The NIST tested 5 life cycle stages
1. Material Extraction
4. Use and Construction
EIFS takes about 1 quarter the resources to extract and manufacture than it does brick.
Material Extraction – To transport-EIFS is 16 times less costly. With EIFS it takes only two trucks to transport the same amount of material as 32 semi trucks to transport 50,000 sq. ft. of material.
Construction and Use – EIFS has a Continuous Insulation (CI) value which saves construction and energy cost.
Re-use – EIFS components are chemically inert. They will not harm the environment when placed in a landfill. EIFS can be recoated, repaired, and refinished, so there is little need for a remove and replace.
The NIST study shows that the life cycle of a building over 50 years, the carbon footprint of EIFS is
3 X smaller than Stucco
5 X smaller than brick
Source: NIST, BEES v 4.0 Analysis 2007
Grams of CO2/Unit
Brick = 8303
Aluminum = 4973
Stucco = 4906
Vinyl = 4501
Cedar = 3997
EIFS = 1771
Source: NIST, BEES v 4.0 Analysis 2007
EIFS is greener, saves money in construction costs, has energy efficient operation, and is most environmentally responsible
EIFS is in all phases of building construction, the superior cladding as proven by
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
This product is just what I am looking for. I am so pleased that I found out about this on the Internet. Not only will it be pleasing to the eye it is environmentally safe and cost efficient. Apparently EIFS is the best exterior finish and I believe I will be extremely happy with this system on my home. I have gone to some of the homes that had this product put on them. I live fairly near Pete’s Restaurant and I was amazed at how nice it looked. It even won an award after the EIFS was installed.
Hope you have as much luck as I did with your search in the EIFS industry.
Sources: The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Oak Ridge National Laboratory
EIFS (Exterior Insulation and Finish System) – Synthetic Stucco
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EIFS has become one of the most thoroughly tested wall systems ever produced
The enormous popularity of the EIFS product’s commercial application made it much easier for the product to rise to the top of the american commercial cladding industry. The products transition from the commercial industry to the residential industry brought unforeseen issues, which invoked a series of tests to prove the validity of the EIFS cladding.
The DOE – The Department of Energy contacted the EIFS Industry Members Association (EIMA) to combine resources to have an EIFS study to confirm the performance of EIFS for insulating ability and moisture resistance. Field research was conducted on a specially made test building constructed with various cladding materials and fitted with sensors to record moisture content, humidity, temperature and other variables. EIFS walls are compared to stucco, brick, cement board and concrete block. A hygrothermal model is being developed, which is a computer simulation that predicts wall performance from the field data.
The Oak Ridge National Laboratory – Engineering Science and Technology Division
The hygrothermal performance of the net exterior insulation walls
The Oak Ridge National Laboratory, ATLANTA, Oct. 28, 2006 — EIFS “outperformed all other walls in terms of moisture while maintaining superior thermal performance.”