Understanding and maintaining EIFS

That stucco on the outside of a commercial building probably isn’t stucco, especially if it’s a newer building. There’s a good chance it’s something called EIFS.

Though often called synthetic stucco, EIFS is anything but. Stucco is a coating that’s applied to the outside of a solid wall, whereas EIFS is a separate layer made up of insulation boards with a weatherproof coating. This layer is then fastened to the wall with fasteners or glue.

EIFS with drainage

There were some problems with residential installations of EIFS in some of the earlier iterations because once moisture got behind the insulation layer, there was no way for it to get out. More modern installations are called EIFS with Drainage, which specifies ways for the moisture to escape so it doesn’t get trapped. This stops situations like British Columbia’s “leaky condo crisis” of the 1990s.

Part of the reason for earlier issues with EIFS was inexperienced or underqualified contractors with little installation experience. Just like other exterior surfaces EIFS has to be installed correctly or it will leak or trap moisture. An EIFS installation done properly is a system that works together.

Make sure you vet any contractor thoroughly. You would do this for any building project, but EIFS in particular requires some extra care and attention to fit and finish to make sure the drainage works correctly.

Maintaining EIFS

EIFS is a very durable surface, but it requires maintenance just like anything else. Because of the thin exterior layer it’s particularly susceptible to vandalism and punctures.

That makes cleaning a little more finicky than it is with some other surfaces. Make sure to use a cleaning method that won’t scour the outer finish off the interior insulation.

Take care of any punctures or moisture immediately so that damage doesn’t spread. You’ll need to conduct regular inspections—at the very least each season, preferably more often. Look for cracks, stains, moisture, punctures, impact marks or anything else that might allow water to get through the outer layer.

EIFS is a durable and energy-efficient building material, but if you want to repair it you should call a professional. JK Industries has dealt with EIFS for years and we understand how it works. We’ll help you keep the exterior of your building in perfect condition. Call us today and find out how we can serve you.