How does EIFS work?

EIFS is the acronym for Exterior Insulated Finishing System, which is a synthetic finish applied over foam sheathing. This exterior wall finishing system is a non-load bearing finish that gives the exterior a stucco-like appearance. There are currently two types of EIFS systems in use: a barrier type and a water-managed version.

How EIFS works

All EIFS systems work on the same basic concept: the finish itself is impermeable and forms a barrier between the structure of the home and the outside elements.

Think about it this way. Ordinary insulation is like thermal underwear worn under your clothes to keep you warm and dry, while exterior insulation is like an extra shirt layered on top of your other clothes. EIFS is like that extra shirt layered on top for protection.

Challenges with EIFS

Water-managed EIFS anticipates that some water will penetrate the surface due to weather and water sources. To combat that, this method incorporates a water management system that includes flashing, drainage channels, and water-durable substrates. The idea is that any water breaching the exterior finish will quickly exit from behind the siding because of the water-managed system.

But for many years, the most common EIFS was a barrier system that didn’t have a method for dealing with any moisture that penetrated the exterior. Moisture intrusion on EIFS commercial buildings continues to be a concern within the industry.

While water does not usually enter through the EIFS itself, it can enter at joints where the EIFS finish meets another finish. Some of the most common areas for water intrusion in EIFS are:

  • Windows
  • Doors
  • Between the areas of the EIFS
  • Roof
  • Moldings
  • Utility lines
  • Pipes

One challenge with this finish is that there is no tolerance built in for poor workmanship or for failure of the flashing such as decayed, damaged, or missing caulking around windows or doors. This threatens the whole exterior without the moisture problem even being visible.

In many cases by the time the moisture intrusion is noticed, damage has been done. The principal problem is not rotting framework but rather environmental concerns, including mold issues that can threaten the health of the occupants and be very difficult to eradicate.

Maintaining EIFS exteriors

As with any other building exterior, regular inspections and maintenance are important for EIFS exteriors. Inspections can help identify minor issues to be fixed before they become much larger problems.

If you have questions or need assistance in maintaining or restoring your EIFS exterior, contact JK Industries, Inc. today for more information about our services.

Leave a Comment