What is EIFS?

EIFS ( pronounced “eefs” ) is the acronym for Exterior Insulation and Finish System.  EIFS is a designed and manufactured, multi-layer system that is used as an exterior cladding to residential as well as commercial buildings.  It has also been nicknamed “Synthetic Stucco” for its close visual resemblance to stucco.  EIFS was first used in Germany after World War II to repair damaged buildings when other typically used materials were in short supply.  EIFS was introduced to the US building markets in the 1960’s when builders finally understood its value.  The EIFS system provided several major benefits over typical exterior wall claddings such as brick, stone, stucco, wood and manufactured sidings.  The three major benefits are as an added layer of insulation to the exterior of a building to help increase energy efficiency, allows for greater architectural design features with simpler installation methods.

When properly installed and maintained EIFS is a durable and exceptionally appealing exterior cladding.  EIFS consists of four basic components:

  1. The base material are foam panels that are mechanically attached (fasteners), or secured with a special adhesive (glue) to the homes exterior sheathing which is typically plywood or Oriented Strand Board (OSB) sheathing.  These foam panels are what provide the additional insulation value of EIFS.
  2. Over the foam panels a special water resistant base coat is applied to help seal the foam and provide a base for the mesh.
  3. Before the base coat sets a fiberglass mesh is applied to it and allowed to become part of the base coat.  This mesh adds additional strength for the final top coat material.
  4. The final component is the exterior finish material that is not only pre-colored but also crack resistant.

Original EIFS systems were designed to be impenetrable to water and did not incorporate methods to drain any moisture that might occur between the foam board and plywood/OSB sheathing.  These designed systems have been mostly abandoned in favor of newer design and installation methods to handle that issue, as well as others  Some older EIFS systems are still around but have been replaced over the years due to age, damage, and other reasons.  Unfortunately even with newer designs and materials it is mostly the poor installation and maintenance of EIFS that have earned it an undeserved bad reputation.  Many homeowner horror stories are circulating and the damage pictures are dramatic!  If you read these stories they almost all come down to the same cause of poor installation and maintenance.

When you are looking at homes to purchase and want to know if the exterior cladding is EIFS or stucco, a simple test is possible along with asking the owner or listing Agent.  To test, gently wrap on the surface with the knuckles of one hand.  Remember to use caution and do this gently, and only with your knuckles as it is not your home yet.  EIFS will have a more hollow sound and feel softer.  Stucco on the other hand will have a heavier sound and feel like knocking on concrete.  Whether your home is EIFS or stucco clad I would recommend that you listen to your Home Inspector closely as to whether they are finding signs of improper installation or problems and have them further checked to protect your investment.  You might also want to have a separate EIFS/stucco specialty inspection performed by a specially trained, and highly experienced EIFS/stucco Inspector regardless of what your Inspector finds.

If you wish to read more about EIFS the EIFS Industry Members Association (EIMA) has an excellent WEB site that can provide not only a great deal of technical information but also links to EIFS manufacturers’ WEB sites, Architects who specialize in EIFS, installers, as well as other groups.

Knowledge is power, but sharing knowledge brings peace!

PS Inspection & Property Services LLC is a full service home inspection and light commercial inspection company servicing the entire Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex.  We strive to for the satisfaction of our customers in everything we do.  Our services offerings include:

Buyer home inspections
New Home Warranty Inspections
New Home Draw Inspections
Home Maintenance Inspections
Home Remodeling Inspections
Investor Inspections
Rental And Renter Inspections
Infrared Thermal Imaging Inspections
Energy Audit Inspections
Whole Inspections Or Inspections Customized To Your Needs

If you have an inspection need we can customize an inspection for it.  Please visit our main site at PS Inspection & Property Service LLC.

PS Inspection & Property Services LLC is a full service home inspection and light commercial inspection company servicing the entire Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex.  We strive to for the satisfaction of our customers in everything we do.  Our services offerings include:

Buyer home inspections
New Home Warranty Inspections
New Home Draw Inspections
Home Maintenance Inspections
Home Remodeling Inspections
Investor Inspections
Rental And Renter Inspections
Infrared Thermal Imaging Inspections
Energy Audit Inspections
Whole Inspections Or Inspections Customized To Your Needs

If you have an inspection need we can customize an inspection for it.  Please visit our main site at PS Inspection & Property Service LLC.

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