By: Michael Frech

Exterior Insulated Finishing Systems (EIFS), commonly referred to as synthetic stucco, have been installed in the U.S. since the late 1970s, when its insulating benefits were marketed during the energy crisis. However, due to numerous reported failures, especially in large residential track developments in the Carolinas, EIFS received bad press in the mid 1990s. The problem was the abarrier systema, which would trap water entering the wall system instead of providing a means for the water to exit. The resulting trapped water would rot the wood framing and OSB sheathing in a matter of months following installation. These failures were exacerbated by the use of unskilled labor and inferior construction practices. To deal with these issues, industry standards of design were changed to include the installation of a waterproofing membrane over the substrate, along with weeps at all horizontal terminations, commonly referred to as a adrainage system.a

If installed properly, adrainagea EIFS cladding it is a fantastic option that provides aesthetic flexibility, uninterrupted insulation, and an installation cost that is less than masonry cladding. However, if the system is installed by untrained applicators, trapped water issues can occur, and even go undetected for years. This trapped moisture within the cladding can result in significant damage including: deteriorated sheathing, wet insulation, rotting structural members and the presence of mold.

Even if properly installed, the owners of buildings with older commercial abarriera systems installed in the late a70s through the mid a90s, especially in the hospitality and retail industries, are only now realizing that their buildings have been quietly leaking for years. These ongoing leaks often manifest themselves as damp carpets, flowering plaster, bowing soffits and failing columns. Even seemingly minor white streaking (efflorescence) and small wrinkles in the finish coat can be indicative of water trapped within the wall assembly.

To ensure that the EIFS on a building is correctly installed, start by consulting with a design professional who can provide a clear and thorough set of drawings and specifications as a guide for all the project details. These plans should be referenced by all installers, so that their proposals include the same scope of work. Secondly, an experienced applicator that specializes in EIFS installations should be contracted. aDrainagea EIFS installations are complex and require numerous products be installed in a specific sequence. Once the project is awarded, the design professional should inspect the work in progress to confirm that the drawings and specifications are being followed. Even small errors by an installer can lead to serious consequences in system performance. Selecting an experienced contractor that is guided by the EIFS specific plans and specifications of a experienced design professional, is the best way to ensure a successful facade restoration project.

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