Sunday, June 19, 2005

Beware of EIFS!!!

The Oregonian is running a series of articles about when building projects go horribly wrong. Sunday's article focuses on the biggest threat to a house in western Oregon: rain. There is a growing trend here, and elsewhere in the nation, of new construction that turns out to be rotten to the core within a few years. These construction failures result in anxieties, costly repairs, and often lawsuits.

Article here (sorry, minimal registration required)

One of the most recent culprits is a relatively new synthetic stucco generically known as Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems, or EIFS. This stuff may sound great since it includes a layer of polystyrene which increases the insulation value of the wall and helps to keep moisture out. But, if water ever does gets past this siding (for example a poorly installed window or flashing), it stays in the walls and is not allowed to ever dry out. It will then slowly rot everything around it including your framing, subfloor, etc. One quote from the article:

"It's not just that you have to replace the siding... You have to replace the building under the siding. And you can't and don't know it until it is too late."

Numerous examples around the Portland area were sited including condos, a hotel, and individual houses. So, if you are thinking about using EIFS, you might want to look into it further and find out if it is a good idea for your area. If you have already used EIFS, you might want to have a professional check it out thoroughly and make sure it has been installed perfectly and has never leaked.

Frankly, I think if you are using a building material like this, you are just asking for trouble. It seems it is only a matter of time before something goes wrong. Especially if you are restoring or adding on to an older house, you should try and stick to more traditional materials. This isn't to say you should not stick some fiberglass in the walls, your local building code probably requires it. But, there is a reason why your 50-100 year old house still has its original wood siding, while the vinyl siding on your friends 5 year old house is faded and cracking.

NOTE:Comments that appear to promote commercial web sites will be deleted.


Blogger Modern Wall Systems said...

The statement "Beware of EIFS" is unfair to say the least. When a nail compromises the integrity of your car tire, should you ban the tires or the nails. I say neither. It is obvious that competence levels plays a crucial part in having a problem free EIFS structure.

4:39 AM, September 14, 2005  
Blogger Greg Emel said...

I most respectfully reject your analogy. When a nail gives me a flat tire, I know it right away and it is relatively inexpensive to replace the tire. Damage to the car is unlikely. However, as the article points out, when EIFS fails, the homeowner probably won't know right away and the damage to the house can be extensive. The point I was trying to make is that this product does not provide enough added value to make it worth the risk. There are plenty of other ways to insulate and side one's house effectively without taking on this risk. This is why I feel very justified in stating "Beware of EIFS".

7:41 AM, September 14, 2005  
Blogger Modern Wall Systems said...

EIFS installation requirements have changed for the better in recent times but the number one problem with EIFS is that the manufacturers are still allowing EIFS to be applied directly to wood substrates, such as plywood.

The system was not developed for wood applications until EIFS reached American shores. EIFS is a cementious product and works beautifully when applied over cement or concrete substrates. In America we build houses and pretty much everything out of wood, therein lies the problem.

When EIFS is installed with the basic or fundamental techniques used by the pre-EIFS stucco masons, then EIFS will not fail.

As a final thought, I think that a stucco facade, synthetic or otherwise, adds curb appeal as well as value to any home. After all beauty is inthe eye of the beholder.


8:29 AM, September 15, 2005  
Blogger Greg Emel said...

If you say so. I for one, wouldn't touch it.

10:02 AM, September 15, 2005  

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