Exterior insulation and finish systems are integrated composite materials systems that are designed to be insulative and water resistant. Abbreviated as EIFS, these cladding systems have been used in some iteration since the 1960s, although technological advancements have brought them a long way.
Here are five things to know about this innovative, widespread exterior finishing system.
- EIFS are made of many parts.
EIFS are classified as a non-load bearing exterior wall cladding systems consisting of an insulation board (usually comprised of GFRP or GFRC) attached to several substrate layers. Also included are an integrally attached basecoat, usually embedded with fiberglass mesh, and a textured top coat that look similar to stucco. It is not unusual for an EIFS to have seven, eight or even nine layers, including several fiberglass layers designed for reinforcement. Today, most systems installed are “EIFS with Drainage,” meaning they provide a way for moisture to evacuate. EIFS are defined by the materials they’re made of and whether or not they contain a drainage plane.
- EIFS must be built as a coherent system.
True EIFS systems are built by a singular manufacturer and consist of highly-specific components. In order to perform mechanically, EIFS must be architecturally designed and installed as a complete system rather than as a series of parts. Systems’ components are not necessarily interchangeable from one manufacturer to another.
- Oil prices are responsible for the popularity of EIFS.
EIFS were used all over Europe to help rebuild in the wake of WWII. During the 1970s, persistent oil embargoes in North America resulted in a surge of energy-efficient building materials in the U.S. market. EIFS quickly became the preferred exterior material (over stud-and-sheath) for over-cladding commercial buildings thanks to its inherent insulative qualities and cost effectiveness.
- Insulation can be added to EIFS.
Before 2000, most EIFS were designed as barrier systems, meaning they themselves served as the barrier against the elements, including temperature. Because most variations already contained one or more layers of fiberglass fabric, they naturally possessed relatively high insulative properties. In order to enhance performance even further, most of today’s systems are designed to include a fluid-based air/moisture barrier as well as insulative fiberglass.
- EIFS is not stucco.
EIFS is sometimes referred to as “synthetic stucco,” but it’s actually quite unlike traditional stucco. Stucco is made from an aggregate, a binder, and water which forms into a hard, dense, non-insulative material. Although EIFS can be made to dry like stucco, it’s mechanically superior as well as far faster to install.
Even when it was first introduced, EIFS was a revolutionary building product. Today, easy-drain EIFS systems are used on homes, commercial buildings, and even industrial spaces all around the world, including here in the U.S.
B&W Fiberglass is an innovator in composites for construction. We work with builders, developers, and manufacturers all over the country to exceed expectations and troubleshoot production issues regarding glass fiber technology.