What does EIFS mean in construction?

Exterior Insulated Finishing System, also known as EIFS, is an exterior wall coating that has a stucco-like appearance. It acts as a thermal wrap around exterior walls, providing insulation and a smooth, attractive finish. In this guide, we’ll discuss how EIFS works and some of the challenges that come with this exterior cladding.

Types of EIFS coating

There are two primary categories of EIFS: barrier and water-managed. Both options include multiple layers of insulation and coating, but the water-managed version incorporates a drainage system for water infiltration. If water penetrates the exterior coating, it will flow through the built-in drainage without reaching the interior structure. 

How EIFS works

EIFS acts as an exterior insulator, in addition to the interior insulation in a building. To put this into perspective, consider a person wearing thermal underwear below their clothing. The interior insulation is like the thermal underwear, and the EIFS is like the outer layer of clothing. The two combined act as a durable shield against the elements.

EIFS can be installed over a solid substrate (bricks, block walls, precast panels, etc.) or wood substrate. The materials for the cladding are layered as follows:

  • Water-resistant barrier
  • Adhesive and fasteners that connect the insulation to the substrate
  • Thick insulation board (water-managed EIFS has grooved backing for drainage)
  • Reinforcing mesh
  • Base coat
  • Finish coat

Water-managed systems include a water-durable substrate that the built-in drainage channels flow into. 

Challenges with EIFS siding

Moisture is a common challenge with barrier EIFS. For many years, these cladding systems did not have any drainage incorporated, making water infiltration problematic.  

However, even a water-managed EIFS can encounter water infiltration issues. Water can penetrate around the windows, doors, roof, molding, pipes, and utility lines, especially in the event of poor installation. Missing caulk, damaged flashing, or decayed trim can lead to mold, rot, and other costly damages. By the time the water intrusion is visible, there is significant damage to address. 

How to maintain EIFS exteriors

As with any cladding option, it is important to frequently inspect EIFS for signs of damage. Catching these issues early on will reduce negative effects and keep repairs to a minimum. JK Industries, Inc. offers EIFS maintenance and inspections in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and many surrounding Oklahoma communities. If you need assistance restoring, repairing, or maintaining your EIFS exterior, contact us to schedule a consultation.