I grew up in a home on Long Island, New York that had a stucco interior and exterior. It was that “popcorn” textured surface on the walls that a lot of buyers don’t like. It was real stucco and when you knocked on it it sounded solid and felt hard.
EIFS stands for “Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems” and is also known as “artificial stucco” because it looks like stucco but is not. When you knock on it it does not sound solid.
“EIFS are barrier systems that prevent moisture from penetrating the face of the EIFS wall covering”.
Mr. Scott Robinson of the EIMA Association sent along this information – greatly appreciated:
“1969 was the beginning of EIFS, when Dryvit started using the exterior wall cladding in the United States, while 1981 is when the association to represent the industry was established. The \”artificial stucco\” reference is far outdated now as well, as EIFS spends a great deal of time replicating other finishes. There are several EIFS systems that replicate limestone, brick, and metallic finishes around the US presently.”
There are roughly 7 different components now, not just 3 layers (WRB, drainage system, acrylic binder are all left out.) The key is in the installation and if not installed by a trained EIFS installer there can be problems with water entering between a homes exterior wall and this product which sits on the exterior wall.
EIFS were first introduced in the United States in the late 60’s, and were used on commercial buildings, and later, on homes.
EIFS typically consist of the following components:
• An optional water-resistive barrier (WRB) that covers the substrate
• The drainage plane between the WRB and the insulation board and is most commonly achieved with vertical ribbons of adhesive applied over the WRB.
• Insulation board typically made from expanded polystyrene (EPS)
• An insulation board is attached with an adhesive or mechanically to the substrate
• Glass-fiber reinforcing mesh embedded in the base coat
• A water-resistant base coat that is applied on top of the insulation to serve as a weather barrier
• A finish coat that typically uses colorfast and crack-resistant acrylic co-polymer technology
The Exterior Design Institute has a lot of information about issues surrounding EIFS. They also have a list of inspectors in the State of Louisiana trained to determine if a product is EIFS and can recommend corrective actions. If you go to their site and to the right where it says technical information you will find a list of topics about water penetration, how to repair EIFS and loads of other information.
The EIFS Industry Members Association also has a lot of information about this product, EIMA.
In Louisiana we have a Property Condition Form that is completed by seller’s so when you purchase a home here if a seller has knowledge there is EIFS on their property they must disclose that to you. It is possible that a seller is unaware of EIFS on the exterior of their home. A home inspector should be able to tell you if there is EIFS on a property you want to purchase and you may decide to bring in an inspector who has additional training to determine if a product is actually EIFS and to determine whether it is fixable, how it is fixable and how much it may cost.