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An Exterior Insulation Finish System, or "EIFS", is a synthetic stucco-cladding used on exterior walls in both commercial and residential construction. EIFS uses a stucco-like polymer-based outer coating containing a plastic resin, which makes the coating softer and more flexible than traditional hard-coat stucco. EIFS is applied using an expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam board. The EPS is attached directly to the substrate, typically gypsum board or plywood sheathing with adhesive. A cement modified synthetic base coat is then troweled onto the EPS board. Before the base coat dries, a fiberglass reinforcing mesh is worked into it until the mesh is completely covered. A finish coat is then troweled over the base coat. The finish can be colored to the owner's tastes.
So What's the Problem?
The original EIFS stucco cladding used in residential construction was designed to be a complete water barrier system, theoretically 100% waterproof. The "barrier EIFS" was installed on thousands of homes nationwide from approximately 1970 to 2000. Unfortunately, no provision was made to drain water that may penetrate a barrier system. Most common reasons for water penetration are lack of applicator education, insufficient building inspections, improper application (especially around window and door penetrations) and faulty windows. As a result of the many lawsuits nationwide, manufacturers have begun to market a new generation of EIFS, which will solve the problem by allowing drainage. But because of the risk of mold litigation, insurance companies nationwide have begun to refuse homeowners insurance for homes suspected of having EIFS exterior cladding. In some areas they have even included homes with components of EIFS, such as EPS foam or synthetic finish.
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