EIFS Vs. Stucco: How To Tell The Differences

EIFS Vs. Stucco: How To Tell The Differences

Many homeowners find it challenging to differentiate between EIFS (Exterior Insulation & Finish System – also called “synthetic stucco”) and traditional stucco when it’s time to remodel their home. Visually inspecting the structure from a close distance can still present significant difficulties in distinguishing EIFS vs. stucco.

However, armed with some fundamental knowledge of these two systems and a couple of straightforward hands-on tests outlined in this article, you can confidently discern between the two systems.

Material Variations

With a conventional hard-coat stucco external layer, its durability is a standout feature as it essentially encases the surface with a rock layer. Cement stucco consists of sand, Portland cement, a small portion of lime, and water.

Essentially, it creates a concrete that is fine-grained and sticks to your home exterior using galvanized wire mesh, waterproof barrier paper, and metal flashings that direct water to the surface’s exterior.

While the stucco’s front acts as the main barrier, an additional or “concealed” barrier redirects any water that seeps behind the front to the exterior, establishing a double defense against wind-driven snow, rain, and ice.

In contrast, EIFS utilizes multiple layers of “synthetic” stucco which is notably softer compared to traditional stucco.

Breathability Distinctions

Although EIFS may resemble stucco and share a comparable installation process, it harbors significant differences. One of the essential distinctions is that EIFS prohibits water from passing back through the coating as water vapor after moisture enters the system.

Conversely, conventional stucco is porous in nature, which allows the flow of moisture both into and out of the cavity.

Installation Methods

EIFS comprises a base and finish coat administered atop an EPS board, which is directly affixed to the sheathing with adhesive or fasteners. The system does not feature provisions for water drainage once it penetrates the EPS board.

On the contrary, conventional hard-coat stucco is applied atop a mesh of wire and affixed with standoffs that generate space behind the layer of stucco for any water to seep out. A conventional stucco exterior does not include a styrofoam board or EPS.

EIFS Vs. Stucco: Tests to Tell the Differences

Making this determination can be challenging, but there are simple tests you can conduct to identify the type of cladding on the property:

  • Knocking

Head outside and give a knock on the external stucco layer in your residence. If the noise resonates hollow, there’s a strong likelihood that it’s EIFS.

Conversely, should it feel firm, akin to tapping on a brick layer, it’s more probable that you have a conventional hard-coat stucco.Top of Form

  • Checking the Gap

If possible, reach under the lower edge of the covering layer, close to the foundation. If you notice the cladding extending more than three-quarters of an inch out from the foundation, you probably have EIFS.

This protrusion is often a result of the EPS board utilized in EIFS, which causes the system to extend further out than traditional stucco.

  • Examining the Penetrations

Examine the penetrations like the gutter straps or light fixtures in the stucco. Often, EIFS installers overlook creating proper joints in these regions.

Take away these things and inspect the stucco layer for the distinct foam board characteristic of EIFS. If you find it, your exterior likely consists of EIFS, because conventional stucco exteriors will not incorporate this element.Top of Form

Still Uncertain? Ask Garden State Home Remodeling

If you’re still unsure about how to differentiate between EIFS and stucco or have other questions about cladding types during home remodeling, it’s best to consult a certified NJ paving masonry contractor for assistance.

Our staff at Garden State Home Remodeling can provide accurate assessments and guidance for your specific property and home renovation situation.

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