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EIFS Answers

What is an exterior insulation and finish system (EIFS)?

An exterior insulation and finish system (EIFS), commonly known as synthetic stucco, is multi-layered exterior siding or cladding made of foam insulation board, reinforcing mesh, a base coat, and an outer finish coat. It is designed to add a layer of insulation and make cosmetic improvements to the exterior of your home. An EIFS is available in various colors and external textures designed to look like traditional stucco.

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When do I need an exterior insulation and finish system?

When you are looking for low-cost, durable siding to improve your home's appearance or add an insulation layer to the exterior. An EIFS is typically less expensive than other types of cladding systems and it is widely available. The system must be installed by a professional. It is not sold through retail stores.

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What's involved in installing an EIFS?

The siding is attached with an adhesive to the exterior walls of the home. A basic EIFS includes only the insulation and EIFS materials (coatings, adhesives, etc.). Other types of EIFS may also include plastic edge trim, water-resistive barriers, a drainage cavity, and other accessories, which are recommended to avoid potential moisture problems. The system is usually installed at the construction site by independent professional plastering contractors.

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How should I choose an EIFS contractor?

Talk to a trusted home builder. An EIFS is not a do-it-yourself system. It should be installed by an experienced professional who has been trained in EIFS installation. The installer should use a system that has full code approval from the model code agency in your area. He should also install drainable systems. Ask if the contractor uses components from a single manufacturer and whether he includes plan reviews by that manufacturer as part of the contract.

Always request and then call recent references. Check to see if the company has any unresolved complaints that have been filed with your city or state consumer protection agency or Better Business Bureau.

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What is the difference between synthetic stucco and traditional stucco?

Synthetic stucco, which is comprised of layers of foam insulation board, fiberglass mesh and a top cover is soft and sounds hollow when tapped, while traditional stucco is hard and brittle, and sounds solid when tapped. Traditional stucco, which is typically made of cement, sand and water is non-insulating and takes longer to apply.

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How should I maintain my EIFS?
  • Any opening, such as door and window frames and the areas around flashings, must be sealed to prevent water from seeping behind the EIFS.
  • Gutters should be kept clean and positioned to drain away from the house.
  • Foam should not extend below grade.
  • Items that penetrate the stucco must be sealed.

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Is moisture an issue with an EIFS?

When an EIFS is applied to a wooden structure there can be problems caused by moisture getting trapped between the siding, which creates a barrier that does not breathe, and the structure. If water seeps in beneath the synthetic layers, it can cause the wood to rot over time. Newer EIFS systems include a drainage component to help keep moisture from being trapped behind the covering. If you are ordering an EIFS for a wooden structure, be sure to ask about a water-resistant barrier layers and other ways to handle drainage.

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What signs of damage should I look for?What signs of damage should I look for?
  • Mold or mildew on the interior or exterior of the home
  • Swollen wood around door and window frames
  • Blistered or peeling paint
  • Cracked EIFS or cracked sealant

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How much does an exterior insulation and finishing system cost?

Total installed cost for EIFS ranges from $4.00 to $7.00 per square foot.

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