EIFS - Exterior Insulation and Finishing Systems
What are EIFS?
Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems (EIFS) are multi-layered exterior
wall systems that are used on both commercial buildings and homes.
EIFS were introduced in the U.S. almost 30 years ago and were first
used on commercial buildings and then later on homes. EIFS typically
consist of an insulation board made of polystyrene foam (which is
secured to the exterior wall surface with an adhesive and/or mechanical
attachments), a water-resistant base coat applied on top of the insulation
and reinforced with fiberglass mesh, and a finish coat typically using
acrylic co-polymer technology. This type of system is often referred
to as artificial stucco.
EIFS System Components
The Potential Problem with EIFS...
The potential problem with EIFS is that moisture can get trapped
behind the highly water resistant material with no way out. This can
cause the framing to rot and foster the growth of mold between the
exterior and interior walls. Damp and rotting wood is also a prime
target for subterranean termites. It should be stated that the potential
for these conditions exist with any type of exterior siding product
be it brick veneer, wood, or vinyl siding. The potential for this
condition with EIFS however can be exacerbated by its superior water
resistance. Once moisture gets in, regardless of its origin, it usually
has no escape.
The main locations where water tends to infiltrate into the framing
structure of a building using an EIFS is around doors and windows,
where the roof connects to the EIFS (roof flashing), and below extended
exterior deck connections. Also, any moisture from within the home
trying to find a path out will likely be thwarted by the EIFS.
The EIFS industry has been plagued by class action, and individual
lawsuits (particularly in humid climates). The public's confidence
in the products have been shaken to say the least. The lawsuits contend
that the problem is with the nature of the product and the manufacturers
contend that sloppy installation and poor maintenance are the culprits.
Regardless of who is "right", its clear that homes with
EIFS require special scrutiny during inspection.