That’s a question that is sometimes heard, but hardly understood by the uninitiated. Stucco finish on the exterior of a home, commercial building or other structure is typically found in warm and hot climates. You know, adobe-style homes, tropical hotels and the like. New York is far from that. Stucco finish is very popular in places like Florida, the Southwest and California, but usually too brittle to be used in freezing zones. That is, until EIFS has become popular. What was originally crafted in Europe after WWII, EIFS made its way across the Atlantic in the 1960’s, and has grown in popularity for commercial front-facing structures, and some homes.
Exterior Insulation Finish System (EIFS) is how the look and feel of stucco is made possible in climates typically too cold in winter to be effective. Traditional stucco finish is applied in three layers, and both extreme heat and cold can cause it to crack, delaminate and crumble. Elastomeric patch and paint take time, skill and effort. Repairs can be costly, time consuming, and the repairs are often visible regardless of the amount of care due to paint discoloration and visible repair joints. Such is not the case with EIFS. Also known under the name Synthetic Stucco, EIFS has been used in both residential and commercial construction for more than 50 years. Who knew? Discerning architects, contractors and designers, that’s who.
As the image above reflects, EIFS is built in layers, with the initial layer touching the structure being insulation. Succeeding layers of products might resemble the typical construction of hand-layered base coat (often referred to as green coat), The final, finish coat has all the appearances of traditional stucco, but without the worries it may bring with it. It was thought that water damaged behind the application was a result of both improper design and poor installation. Subsequently, modifications to the original construction of the application now allow for drainage, even though product failure was never conclusive.
“EIFS today are one of the most tested and well researched claddings in the construction industry. Research, conducted by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and supported by the Department of Energy, has validated that EIFS are the “best performing cladding” in relation to thermal and moisture control when compared to brick, stucco, and cementitious fiberboard siding. In addition, EIFS is in full compliance with modern building codes which emphasize energy conservation through the use of CI (continuous insulation) and a continuous air barrier. Both these components are built into today’s EIFS products to provide maximum energy savings, reduced environmental impact over the life of the structure, and improved IAQ, Indoor Air Quality. Along with these functional advantages come virtually unlimited color, texture, and decorative choices to enhance curb appeal and enjoyment of almost any home or structure.” Source: Wikipedia
Synthetic stucco provides the architectural design to projects in an affordable and easily available, multi-function product. Its energy efficiency and ease of use has made this product extremely popular among both commercial and residential contractors, as well as those from whom they receive the architectural specifications.
A closer look at the above diagram revels the multi-function design of the product, which makes it so appealing, especially in cold climates. The initial layer is made up of EPS, Expanded Polystyrene, of which we wrote previously. You can find additional information here. The base EPS board is secured to the structure, typically with a commercial adhesive. The water-resistant center layer of fiberglass mesh, increasing its durability and performance. Atop all of that is the base layer and finish coat. EIFS has proven to be crack resistant, durable, and long lasting.
“Types of EIFS are defined by their materials and the existence/absence of a drainage plane. The EIFS Industry Manufacturers Association (EIMA) defines two classes of EIFS, Class PB (polymer based) identified as PB EIFS and Class PM (polymer modified) identified as PM EIFS. PB EIFS is the most common type in North America and historically used expanded polystyrene (EPS) insulation adhered to the substrate with fiberglass mesh embedded in a nominal 1/16 inch (1.6 mm) base coat which can receive additional layers of mesh and base coat for stronger impact resistance. Other types of insulation board can include polyisocyanurate.” – Source: Wikipedia
While there are numerous application types, typical stucco-board, or EIFS, is readily available in the Northeast, as Poly Molding LLC is the only Manufacturer in New Jersey.
For additional information, or a no obligation consultation, feel free to contact us. We’ll be happy to provide whatever is needed to complete your project.