The Real Facts About EIFS 

- EIFS Basics -


EIFS is an acronym for Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems. It is a generic term for an exterior cladding system currently produced by some 30 manufacturers in the U.S. EIFS is also referred to as "Synthetic Stucco". This term is not entirely accurate in the context of talking about EIFS because there are other types of synthetic stucco products besides EIFS. The acronym is typically pronounced "EEFS" although some pronounce it as "EEFIS". Whatever.

EIFS consist of several components combined to produce the cladding system (see diagram 1). The first half of the acronym, "Exterior Insulation" is derived from the fact that the first component installed is a polymer-based foam board. This foam board is mechanically and/or adhesively attached to the exterior sheathing of the home. In this respect the foam board serves as an exterior insulating layer. Over this foam board is applied a synthetic base-coat material in which is embedded a fiberglass reinforcing mesh. This is typically referred to as the "base-coat". Is is usually a muddy-green color and dries down to a grey or greenish-grey. On top of the base coat is applied one or more "finish coats". This is the exterior layer that gives the product its stucco-like appearance. Hence the second part of the acronym "Finish Systems".

Diagram 1: EIFS Components


A Brief History of EIFS

EIFS were developed in Europe after World War II. There was a need to repair war-ravaged buildings without leveling and rebuilding them. EIFS was an ideal way to go. Data indicate that EIFS was successful in its performance as deployed in Europe. What EIMA typically won't tell you is that the use in Europe was almost entirely on concrete and masonry exteriors.

In 1969 Dryvit imported the first EIFS into the U.S. largely for commercial applications. One of the first users of the systems was the U.S. Army. EIFS began making inroads into the residential construction industry in the mid 1980's. No engineering changes were made to allow for differences between commercial masonry and steel construction and wood residential construction before it was introduced to the residential market.


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