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Stucco FAQ

What is the difference between PM and PB EIFS?

PM: Polymer Modified: Thick cementations base coat applied over glass fiber reinforcing mesh. The joints in this system are similar to that in traditional stucco. This system uses a standard finish however an elastomeric finish can be used to fill any hairline cracks that could occur with the thickness of the base coat.

PB: Polymer Based: This system typically uses adhesively fastened, expanded polystyrene (EPS) insulation as well as fiber reinforcing mesh embedded in a nominal 1/16 inch base coat. PB EIFS may include additional layers of base coat and reinforcing mesh in order to create a higher level of impact resistance. An EIFS finish coat is applied over the entire base coat.

What is the difference between cement stucco and dryvit?
Cement stucco is basically cement exterior plaster and has been in use for over 8000 years. Older homes have cement stucco applied on them. EIFS or Dryvit product has been around in North America for approximately 30 years. It is a thin synthetic skin over Styrofoam. One advantage of Dryvit is that trim can be done with it. Real cement stucco is only for the “field” or all surfaces other than trim.

How long does EIFS last?
The life of an EIFS system depends on how well it was installed initially and how well it has been maintained. An example of the required maintenance includes repairing caulking, which eventually wears out and must be replaced. Some older EIFS projects that are still in good shape today go back to the ’50s in Europe and the late ’60s in the North America. Other than needing a paint job to freshen them up, these installations are in good shape.

How long does a stucco job last?
Our stucco work is usually good for 15 to 20 years, depending on environmental conditions. Some colors that do not show dirt may have a longer life and are more maintenance-free.

Do you guarantee your work?
Yes. We have a 1-year guarantee against stucco cracks, breaks, peeling, flaking, bulging, blistering or stucco falling off.

Are control joints necessary?
Yes. Control joints are normally grooved in the system for aesthetic reasons but also to provide the tradesman applying the finish reasonable areas for completing his work without creating dry joints.

Is there a difference in quality between EIFS brands?
As each brand has its own formulation, there is definitely a difference in quality between different brands. Within the product line of a given brand name, there are often various grades of EIFS, with the higher quality grades usually costing a bit more than the lower quality grades. However, the quality of an installed EIFS system is just as dependent, if not more so, on the installer.

Can weather conditions during application affect the performance of EIFS coatings?
Yes, EIFS adhesives, base coats, and topcoats can all be affected by the air temperature and humidity at the time of application. Long-term performance may suffer if coatings are applied when it’s too cold or damp, or if uncured coatings are not protected during such weather.

What happens if it is too cold?
Polymer latexes used to make 1-00% acrylic coatings that have what is called a “Minimum film formation temperature” (MFFT). Above the MFFT, the latex will form a clear film with good-binding action. Below the MFFT however, the latex will dry to a white powder and no film will form.

How do I know if my home is finished with a true EIFS?
To determine if your home is finished with EIFS, you can try to carefully knock on it like you would on a door. If it sounds hollow, it’s probably EIFS. If it sounds solid (not hollow), or has a very coarse texture, it’s probably a plaster Stucco product.

How do I know which manufacturer’s EIFS product is on my home?
It can be difficult to determine what brand of EIFS has been installed. Most brands of EIFS look the same. You can try contacting the general contractor who built the house, or the contractor that installed the EIFS, if you have the necessary contact information. They may remember what brand of EIFS was installed on your home. Don’t be satisfied by what’s written in the building specifications since they often cite a certain brand while another is actually installed.

Can I tell what EIFS brand it is from the mesh color?
Certain brands of EIFS can be identified by the color of the mesh. While the mesh color may give you a starting point, it is not a reliable determining factor, since meshes of various colors are readily available on the market to contractors who install EIFS systems. Also keep in mind that once the mesh is buried within the basecoat, it is going to be a headache to try and figure out its color. If you can see the mesh color, some common colors for EIFS brands are as follows:

a. Adex = white (with company name printed on mesh)

b. Dryvit = blue

c. Durabond = white (with company name printed on mesh)

d. DuRock = white (with company name printed on mesh)

e. Senergy = green

f. Sto = yellow

Is flashing required with EIFS?
For the wall to resist water penetration, particularly at transition areas such as decks or roof/wall intersections, flashing must be installed to divert water beyond cladding not into or behind it. Similarly, if windows are expected to leak, sill flashing beneath them is important to divert water away from and not into the wall assembly.

What’s involved with removing and replacing EIFS?
EIFS is removed by carefully cutting away the entire EIFS (including the foam), back to the supporting wall. The old EIFS cannot be reused and is discarded. Then the supporting wall is inspected for damage, and whatever damage is found is repaired. Please be aware that this could involve removing studs and/or sheathing, a major operation. The new EIFS is then applied over the repaired wall, and is blended into the surrounding EIFS, if necessary.

Some homes and commercial buildings have “dots” all over it. What’s causing this?
In many residential buildings EIFS is often attached to the supporting wall using “mechanical fasteners.” These fasteners consist of a large plastic washer and a metal screw. The washer sits on top of the EIFS insulation, and is covered by the EIFS coatings. The washer is thus a fraction of an inch from the outdoor air. Because the fastener is made of metal and plastic, the washer is at a different temperature that the surrounding layer of EIFS insulation.

This temperature differences means that the EIFS coatings retain a different amount of moisture at the fastener than in the surrounding wall. This, in turn, makes the EIFS finish look like it’s a different color. Hence, the wall appears to have “dots” on the surface. The dots rarely do any harm, and usually disappear, as the wall’s temperature becomes more even, such as during the middle of the day. This phenomenon may be reduced by applying a thick initial EIFS basecoat to even out the temperature of the EIFS surface, thus reducing the “dot” effect.

How do I maintain the exterior of my house?
1. Physical Damage – Patching and Small Repairs.
It takes time, skill, experience, proper techniques and the correct material to make a good repair. Both color and texture must be blended for the area to look good. Holes, cracks, wrinkles, and bulges should all be corrected to prevent additional damage. Some are easy to repair and some very difficult. Most repairs may still be slightly visible unless the entire panel is recoated. Even then, a badly worked patch may still be seen. The time required to repair EIFS depends on the size and depth of the damaged area. Most installers do not have personnel available to repair a small area. With the expense of travel time, etc. repairs are expensive. Many owners object to the high cost they are charged when they can find someone to do the repairs. Time is money. Repairs are often difficult and expensive.

2. Cleaning EIFS. 
Keeping your house or building clean is vital to curb appeal. Whether you are trying to draw customers or clients, selling a house or doing spring-cleaning a positive first impression depends on a clean exterior.

EIFS, which rarely needs to be painted, must be cleaned occasionally to maintain its like-new appearance. Each manufacturer has cleaning instructions that should be followed to prevent surface damage and color fading. Various kinds of stains and discoloration can occur on the surface. Each has its own characteristics and remedial cleaning processes. WARNING: Many firms use high pressure (3500psi+) to remove stains and mildew. High pressure washing may easily damage various surfaces including brick and concrete. Overzealous individuals can ruin mortar joints, caulking, masonry surfaces, and paint and wood decks with a high pressure washer. High pressure has its applications, but only when used carefully with damage prevention in mind. There is a preferred low pressure option for cleaning EIFS, which can accomplish the same results without the danger of damaging the surface.

3. Mildew.
For mildew removal, use the EIFS manufacturer’s recommendations or have the house professionally cleaned. Please see “WARNING” in No. 2 above.

4. Painting EIFS is normally unnecessary unless a color change is wanted or unusually stubborn stains cannot be removed. EIFS buildings cannot be painted like most surfaces. Picture framing, streaking, and flattened textures are the results of inexperienced painters using improper or inappropriate procedures required on EIFS. Proper painting is not more difficult, but it is different. Don’t hire someone to learn on your project.

Some coatings will change the sheen or gloss. Most will change the texture enough that an entire elevation must be painted to be aesthetically acceptable. Contact the manufacturer for advice or call a professional in the EIFS coating business to do it correctly. Some coatings can change the water vapor transmission characteristics of the EIFS and trap moisture inside. Solvent-based coatings can dissolve the EPS Insulation board and cause delaminating of the outer layers of the EIFS. If the EIFS surface is an elastomeric or silicone based coating, regular latex paint will not adhere properly and peeling may result. Although top-quality exterior acrylic latex paint is often used on EIFS material, coatings other than those provided by the EIFS manufacturer may void the warranty.

I’m buying or selling an existing EIFS house. Should I have an EIFS inspection done on it?
Yes, it is always good to have an existing EIFS inspected by a professional, when you are concerned about the state of repair of a particular installation. While an EIFS installation may look fine, most problems are hidden below the surface. A professional inspection will assess the proper value of the installation, as it relates to the value of the house, and also gives the buyer or seller, as well as realtors and insurance agents, a good level of comfort.

We’re building a new EIFS house. What are the most important points to look out for?
a. Have complete drawings and specifications of the EIFS proposed by the home designer.
b. Carefully follow the EIFS manufacturers published design and installations.
c. Follow the local building code’s general requirements for EIFS, including whatever product-specific code-type requirements have been developed for the EIFS.
d. Hire a qualified EIFS contractor.
e. Enlist the input of the EIFS manufacturer whenever there is any doubt regarding the installation.
f. Have professional inspections done on the EIFS as it is being installed.

Can I change the color of my stucco with your process?
Yes. You can change your stucco to almost any color Dartex Contracting Ltd. helps you to do so with both color samples and color-matching. We have changed the color of countless homes.

What colors are available?
We can produce any color or shade that you desire. The only exceptions are ultra-deep tones and shades of color.

Can you match colors?
Yes, we can match all colors. Several exceptions do exist. It is extremely difficult to do so if the home or structure is covered in old, raw cement, the surface appearance is too consistent to match, or the surface has been painted with glossy paints.

Can you match textures?
Yes, Dartex Contracting Ltd. is extremely experienced and competent in matching textures. >

How do you estimate work on existing stucco homes?
After receiving your call or e-mail, we will arrange a site survey. We normally price work for repair or patching if there are isolated areas. If the work requires extensive patching or if the home has extensive damage, a simple repair order is not appropriate. We will then give an estimate based on repair and a total recoating of the entire home/ structure. On occasion, we have seen severe peeling paint problems. In these instances, we recommend recoating the entire home to properly fix and remedy this type of damage. We price on a per-job basis and will never estimate what we cannot see.

Why do small cracks appear in my stucco finish?
As stucco cures some of the water it contains evaporates. This causes the stucco to shrink slightly. As it shrinks, small cracks called “check cracking” might appear. Applying stucco finishes in hot, dry weather could contribute to check cracking in stucco. During periods of hot dry weather conditions, a light spray (mist) of clean water is recommended over the stucco finish. Some check cracking in stucco is normal.

I have noticed slight color variations, or “blotches” in my stucco finish. 
What caused this and how can I even out the color? Usually, spotty or “blotchy” stucco color is a result of variations in the thickness of the cement “base coat” beneath the stucco finish. Slightly thicker areas can retain moisture longer. This drying pattern can cause the slower-drying areas to appear darker. Typically, this happens more during winter months, and on shaded surfaces.

Do you offer free estimates?
Yes, estimates are free and are based on a visual and detailed look of your house. You will receive your estimate right there on the spot. The price is determined by the square footage of your home and need for additional repairs. In our professional experience, an estimate can range from few minutes( for a smaller job) for up to half an hour – an hour (for bigger, more sophisticated projects) to give you a fair price.

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