This popular cladding system belongs to a family of architectural products categorized as Exterior Insulated Finish Systems (EIFS)or better known as Stucco. The growing popularity of EIFS Stucco can be attributed to its superior energy efficiency, flexibility of texture and design, and unlimited color selection.
Developed in Europe in the 1950s, EIFS Stucco was introduced in Canada almost 30 years ago. The system was first used on commercial buildings, and later, on homes. Today, EIFS Stucco accounts for a very large proportion of the Canadian commercial and residential exterior finish market.
EIFS Stucco typically consists of the following components:
- Insulation board, made of polystyrene or polyisocyanurate foam, which is secured to the exterior wall surface with a specially formulated adhesive and/or mechanical attachment
- A durable, water-resistant base coat which is applied on top of the insulation and reinforced with fiber glass mesh for added strength
- An attractive and durable finish coat, typically using acrylic co-polymer technology, which is both colorfast and crack-resistant.
Architectural coatings and Stucco finishes are changing the face of architecture. More and more architects and builders are choosing EIFS stucco coatings over conventional building systems.EIFS Stucco finishes are recognized for maximizing energy efficiency and reducing moisture penetration. These systems are virtually maintenance free and are very cost competitive. Their flexibility of colour, shape, texture and dimension has stimulated architects and designers to create exciting modern designs.
Nothing can impact the appearance of a home more dramatically than accent mouldings. Many architects, designers, and homeowners are moving toward period designs that include arches, accent mouldings, quoins, columns, and cornices.
EIFS Stucco finishes are great for Energy Efficiency. If you’ve ever felt the comfort of being wrapped in a warm blanket on a cold winter night, you have some idea of what EIFS Stucco finishes can do for a home or building.
The EIFS Stucco System literally wraps the exterior of a building in an energy-efficient thermal blanket. By insulating outside the structure, EIFS reduces air infiltration, stabilizes the interior environment and reduces energy consumption.
By contrast, traditional “between-the-studs” insulation, no matter how thick, leaves “thermal breaks” — gaps where heat and cold pass more freely between the outdoors and the space within — at studs, wall outlets, wall joints, and elsewhere.
Stucco finishes can reduce air infiltration by as much as 55% compared to standard brick or wood construction. And since walls are one of the greatest areas of heat and air conditioning loss, improvement in the wall insulation can be very meaningful in terms of energy conservation.
What’s more, Stucco Finishes add to the “R-value” of a home or building. (R-value is a measurement of resistance to heat flow; the higher the R-value, the better the material’s insulating value.) Most EIFS use insulation board with an R-value of R-4 to R-5.6 per inch as the innermost layer in the wall system. When combined with standard wall cavity insulation, this extra layer can boost wall insulation from R-11 to R-16 or more.
Another point to keep in mind on new construction: Due to the energy efficiency of EIFS Stucco, it may be possible to specify lower-capacity heating and air conditioning equipment without sacrificing anything in terms of interior comfort.
Dryvit System – an approved drainage system prevents water infiltration while permitting ex-filtration of the moisture through a series of drainage channels and vents directed to the exterior of the building. This system incorporates a moisture/air barrier that is applied directly over the sheathing to form an air and watertight membrane.
Expanded Polystyrene boards, which can be back-vented, are then adhesively applied or mechanically fastened to the substrate and are coated with a flexible base coat into which a reinforcing fibre-glass mesh is embedded. The final coat is a 100% acrylic finish impregnated with quartz aggregate, and it is available in thousands of colors.
With EIFS Stucco finishes, we can create all sorts of exterior architectural detailing, like cornices, arches, columns, keystones, mouldings and decorative accents, which would be cost-prohibitive using conventional construction. Dryvit System’s exterior stucco systems enable builders and architects to give a striking, distinctive appearance to any building or residence.
EIFS Stucco application is definitely not do-it-yourself wall claddings. They should be installed only by experienced stucco contractors who have completed a Stucco application manufacturer’s training program.
All EIFS Stucco used by Dartex Contracting Ltd. come from manufacturers who provide extensive specifications for all their products.
To ensure long-term performance of EIFS Stucco, the following steps are recommended:
- Selection of a knowledgeable, experienced stucco contractors who have current approval of the manufacturer.
- Verification from the manufacturer that the project plans and specs contain sufficient information and enough detail to provide a weather-tight building envelope.
- Verification, that all components are supplied and/or approved by one manufacturer.
- A thorough review by the EIFS Stucco manufacturer of any unusual project details or conditions before the work commences.
- Verification that the proper materials (with identification and labels intact) were shipped and stored in accordance with the manufacturer’s requirements.
- A complete review of the scope of the work, project and site conditions, sequencing and other matters, with the EIFS applicator, prior to the start of the project.
- Examination of the substrate for proper tolerances, cleanliness, etc.
- Periodic inspection of the application of EIFS Stucco components, to ensure that the manufacturer’s recommended procedures are being followed.
- Verification that critical related items are being properly installed, especially quality windows and doors, flashing and sealants.
MAINTENANCE & REPAIR
Unlike wood, stucco and other siding materials, EIFS rarely needs painting. Most Stucco finishes are specially formulated with 100% acrylic binder, which gives EIFS superior resistance to fading, chalking and yellowing. As a result, the systems tend to maintain their original appearance over time. And since the color is integral to the finish coat, even if the surface is scratched, the same color appears beneath the abrasion.
EIFS Stucco also have excellent resistance to dirt, mildew and mold, which helps keep the building exterior looking clean and freshly painted. Should the surface ever become soiled, it can usually be cleaned by hosing it down.
The EIFS Stucco finishes are designed to be very flexible, which makes them highly crack-resistant. When walls expand or contract due to rising or falling temperatures, Stucco finishes are resilient enough to “absorb” building movement and thus avoid the unsightly cracking problems that are so common with stucco, concrete and brick exteriors.
EIFS Stucco finishes are among the most water-resistant exterior surfaces available. But as with all cladding, EIFS must be correctly installed and properly detailed if they are to perform properly. Otherwise, moisture can get behind the systems and cause damage, just as it can with wood siding, brick or any other exterior. Water intrusion is seldom a problem on commercial structures with EIFS.
Water intrusion damage to homes is uncommon, but when it does occur, the moisture typically affects only small areas which can be easily and inexpensively repaired.
In cases where homes have been damaged, the problems have been traced to the use of poor quality (even leaky and/or non code-compliant) windows and/or improper flashing and sealing. As a result, when building with EIFS Stucco, it is wise to use quality windows which are code-compliant, and to make sure there is proper flashing and sealing around windows, doors, roofs, deck-to-house attachments, and all other exterior wall penetrations.
Periodic maintenance should include thorough checking of the flashing and sealing to ensure that the building envelope remains watertight. Damaged or missing flashing should be repaired or replaced immediately; likewise, cracked or deteriorated sealants should immediately be repaired, or removed and replaced.