It’s Not Stucco: Your Complete Guide to EIFS

Making the decision to renovate the outside of your house can be a challenging one. Sometimes, homeowners are afraid of how much a major exterior renovation will cost. In other cases, people worry they won’t like the end result of a remodel. If, however, you’ve made the firm decision to change the look of your North Carolina or South Carolina residence, there are a number of things to take into consideration before your project can actually commence. 


The first big choice you’ll have to make is what type of cladding you want to use on your home. Some homeowners opt to use whatever material they already had — vinyl siding, in many cases — while others take the opportunity to make a major change. If you fall into the latter category, you may want to seriously consider the benefits of EIFS, a material that resembles stucco, but isn’t!


What exactly is an Exterior Insulation and Finish System (EIFS)?


EIFS looks like stucco to the naked eye, but is actually a significantly different material. Some individuals in the home renovation and residential design industries refer to EIFS as “synthetic stucco”. 


The key difference between the two materials is that traditional stucco typically has just one or two layers of stucco over wire mesh backing. EIFS, however, has six layers, making it stronger and a better insulator. It is also, though, more costly, but homeowners who like the look of both of these materials often find the added expense to be a non-issue. 


What are the six layers of EIFS?


  1. A water-resistant barrier that is sometimes referred to by the initials “WRB”.
  2. A drainage plane that is inserted between the water-resistant barrier and the next layer. This plane helps to drain rainwater and other moisture so it doesn’t cause damage behind the rest of the system. 
  3. An insulation board that is typically made from a material known as expanded polystyrene, or “EPS”.
  4. Glass-fiber reinforcement mesh that is ultimately attached to the layer above it. As the fifth layer dries, this glass-fiber material embeds into it, creating stability.
  5. A base coast that is fully water-resistant, designed to protect the layers below it, including the insulation layer, which could otherwise be susceptible to water damage. 
  6. A finish coat that gives EIFS its stucco-like look and protects the underlayers against damage, such as cracking, warping, and mold growth. 


What are the benefits of EIFS?


EIFS has a number of perks, including the fact that it is both lighter — many estimates say up to 80% — and more energy-efficient than conventional stucco. It also tends to be more durable than a true stucco finish, requiring less maintenance over the course of time. 


What are the downsides of EIFS?


There are not a lot of cons to choosing EIFS for your home renovation, but there are a few things you ought to be aware of. To begin with, this is not an inexpensive product. EIFS often costs about $16 per square foot. As a comparison, traditional stucco tends to top out at around $9 per square foot. Furthermore, because EIFS is not breathable, it should be inspected for water damage at least once a year. 


The team at Hatch Homes is here to help you with every facet of your North Carolina or South Carolina home renovation! Call us today.

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Hatch is your partner for exterior remodeling.

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