What is EIFS

Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems (EIFS)  are multi-component exterior wall systems which generally consist of:

  1. an insulation board
  2. an adhesive and/or mechanical attachment of the insulation board to the substrate or existing wall surface
  3. a base coat reinforced with glass fiber mesh on the face of the insulation board
  4. a finish coat which protects the entire system and can be applied in a wide variety of colors and textures

Sometimes called synthetic stucco, EIFS originally started out as a cladding system for commercial buildings some 30 years ago. Due to it’s infinite design flexibility and insulating characteristics, it soon became a popular choice for high-end residential builders in the late 1980’s to early 1990’s and is still widely used today. Properly installed, it can be a highly energy efficient and water-resistant system.

There are two types of EIFS systems, barrier and drainable. Barrier, the earlier type, typically applied the insulating polystyrene board directly to the exterior sheathing with adhesive, followed by base coat, mesh and finish coat. There is no provision to deal with moisture that can be trapped if the system leaks.

Drainable, on the other hand, provides a drainage plane behind mechanically fastened insulation board to deal with this issue, should it occur. Most local building codes require drainage type systems today.

There are a number of versions of EIFS. The most basic and common EIFS is called a barrier EIFS (also known as a traditional or conventional EIFS). Another type is called an EIFS with Drainage, which is a barrier EIFS to which a water drainage capability has been added.

How EIFS is used

EIFS can be used on a wide range of buildings, including homes, apartments, condominiums, high-rise buildings, offices, malls, shopping centers, hotels, motels, clinics, government buildings, and so on. It can also be used to create facades and soffits on shopping centers, and for decorative purposes (to look like stone, or to create signage or artwork).

Benefits of EIFS

EIFS has a number of features that contribute to its popularity, including a modern seamless look (although control joints are required at regular intervals to prevent splitting from thermal expansion/contraction), the ability to mimic other materials, reasonable cost, and high energy efficiency. EIFS looks like traditional stucco or concrete, and is very common through North America.