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Exterior Insulated Finish Systems (EIFS) and Cement Stucco

EIFS is a modern siding product made from modified cement stucco. For quick answers to your questions, see our EIFS and Stucco FAQ. If you want to see one of our EIFS reports, click Here.

The polymer modified cement material is generally applied over foam panels that have been attached to the building, and an acrylic or silicone finish coating is applied to provide the color and texture. A fiberglass mesh layer is used to reinforce the stucco coating. Together, the foam, fiberglass, and modified cement make up the EIFS. 

Cement Stucco has been around for thousands of years, but in its current incarnations, it is generally applied as (traditional) three-coat stucco, or (newer) one-coat stucco. Both are solid cement stucco, but the one-coat product is modified with polymers, curing agents and reinforcing fibers to help control cracking in thinner applications.   The discussion below talks primarily about EIFS, but cement stucco behaves in a similar fashion: it fails and causes moisture problems when improperly applied. We use the same techniques for evaluating cement stucco and EIFS.

Most EIFS in use prior to 2000 are considered to be a "face-sealed" siding product. This means that all of the rain water or other moisture is supposed to be stopped at the face of the material. This type of EIFS is also referred to as "Barrier" EIFS to distinguish it from the drainable systems that are described below. The face-seal approach has become a problem throughout the country because no siding material can be made completely waterproof.  The water that does manage to penetrate the EIFS becomes trapped in the wall, and if it does not dry out fast enough, mold, rot, and structural damage occur. Since about 1998, there are newer, drainable EIFS on the market that allow for water to drain out behind the system. They are referred to as water managed EIF systems.  These systems are much more resistant to moisture damage, but they can also fail if they are improperly applied. It is important to know what type of EIFS is installed on your house in order to get a complete picture of its condition.

In areas of high rainfall, frequent wind driven rain, high humidity, or high indoor/outdoor temperature differences, the material has been shown to trap water and cause damage to the structure of the house. The insidious nature of this problem is that there is often no outward sign of distress until the structural damage has progressed to a significant stage. It is often impossible to identify moisture problems with an EIFS application visually.  This is why several building and inspection organizations have developed protocols for moisture intrusion testing of EIFS clad buildings.

Almost Home follows test procedures that are based on protocols developed by the NAHB, The North Carolina EIFS Task Force, and amended by the Georgia Association of Home Inspectors (GAHI). These procedures reflect the best current methods for cost effective and comprehensive inspection for moisture intrusion and entrapment inside EIFS claddings.

In short, our inspectors visually survey the EIFS installation  for conformance with industry standards. We then employ noninvasive moisture detectors to locate potentially wet areas of the building. These areas are then probed directly through the cladding to determine the precise moisture levels. The probing is essential to determine how severe the damage may be and to recommending an intelligent course of action. Our reports include descriptions of areas requiring maintenance or repairs, recommendations for follow-on inspections or material removal as necessary, and recommendations for future inspections and maintenance.

Now that EIFS issues have become well known in our area, many new inspectors are offering to perform EIFS inspections. In this, as in most things, you get what you pay for. Before hiring anyone, check out their qualifications and experience. Ask them for a copy of a sample report. You can see a sample of ours here

We also perform third-party EIFS inspections. These inspections are performed during construction, as an independent quality control measure. To learn more about this service, check out our 3rd Party EIFS inspection page.

If you would like to view some of the problems that moisture intrusion can cause, go to the New Hanover (NC) site for pictures. http://www.nhcgov.com/ins/eifs/eifs001.htm

If you would like to see what the EIFS industry has to say about the issues, got to the EIMA website,   www.EIMA.com .

Homeowner's and plaintiff's sites change frequently, so if you want to see in general how people feel about their EIFS, you're best off googling EIFS.

If you want to see how the plaintiff's lawyers feel, you can also go to this site for further information about how some of the EIFS lawsuits have progressed, and they also have a great list of additional links.  www.stuccolaw.com.


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