What is EIFS?

Construction sites seem to be a place where a lot of terms get thrown around. This can be quite confusing, especially if you are building a new home, or doing a significant remodel for the first time. A term that came up here recently, as a result of building a French Country style home in Windsor, is something called EIFS (pronounced like this, eefis) Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems.

And you have probably seen it more than you realize.

How Does EIFS Differ from Traditional Stucco?

Traditional stucco covers your home with a layer of portland cement plaster (a fine grained concrete) which is adhered to your home by a waterproof barrier paper, galvanized wire mesh, and metal flashings. The flashings are used to channel any water to the exterior wall.

In similarity, EIFS (synthetic stucco) is also a multi-layered process and uses cement, however, in contrast to traditional cement stucco, it uses a foam insulation board as its first layer. The second layer is a water resistant base coat which has been reinforced with a fiberglass mesh. The finished coat is so similar to traditional stucco that aside from being a stucco pro, you may not be able to tell them apart.

If they are so similar in their finished appearance, why do people choose synthetic (EIFS) over traditional stucco?

Is EIFS Better?

Perhaps the most significant difference between the two is that one has an “R” value and one does not. If you are already an energy efficiency expert, than you know what the “R” value is, but for those who are not familiar with the term, here is a brief explanation according to the Insulation Institute:

“Insulation is identified and labeled by R-value. ‘R’ stands for resistance to heat flow. The higher the insulation R-value, the greater the insulating power.”

From this information, we learn that synthetic stucco (EIFS) actually works as an insulator for your home, insuring more energy efficiency, and keeping in line with important green built practices.

Although traditional stucco and synthetic stucco both bear the same rich appearance, only synthetic stucco (EIFS) has superior design versatility and flexibility. In fact, EIFS (synthetic stucco) is available in an almost limitless array of colors and textures, allowing many options for the home owner. And it doesn’t stop there. Due to the fact that EIFS is made out of insulation board, skilled applicators can create numerous forms of architectural detailing by the use of precision-cutting. This allows for many beautiful exterior details, including, but not limited to, cornices, arches, columns, keystones, cornerstones, special moldings, and decorative accents.


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