There are different kinds of outdoor build materials commonly used in both residential and commercial properties. Stucco, for instance, is commonly used throughout the home. Traditional stucco is a hard coat product applied to the outside of a house. Once set, the stucco forms a durable, protective layer against the elements. Synthetic stucco, a more expensive option than traditional, is also available.
On the other hand, there exists a similar material known as Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems (EIFS), which is a softer, synthetic material that does not provide as much protection as stucco. If you’ve ever wondered what kind of material coats the exterior of your house, here are a few ways you can identify each.
Three EIFS And Stucco Test Methods
The Installation Process
Stucco and EIFS are installed in two different ways. When installing stucco, a wire mesh structure is created. This structure serves as a foundation for the rock material. Once the wire mesh is in place, the layer of stucco is applied above. Aside from giving the stucco a surface to attach to, the wire mesh also permits water within the structure to drain.
On the other hand, EIFS uses a baseboard that is installed in the desired location. In most cases, this board will be made of styrofoam. Once in place, a base coat is applied, followed by a finish coat.
Both Stucco and EIFS can appear similar at first glance. However, while one is synthetic and the other is an actual layer of rock, there are some ways to identify differences. The synthetic stucco used in EIFS will not allow water to pass through, either in liquid or vapor form, due to the solid nature of the material.
The traditional stucco system, on the other hand, is naturally porous. This allows some moisture to move both in and out of the wall. Essentially, it allows the stone to breathe. The pores can prove helpful in some climates, as fluctuation can prevent cracking.
Performing The Knock Test
If you did not install the material yourself, you may still wonder whether or not you have traditional stucco or EIFS.
It can prove difficult to instantly identify one from the other by just looking at it. One of the best ways to test out the material is to perform what is known as the “Knock test.”Go outside and knock on the material. If it has a hollow sound, it likely is EIFS. This is because the sound travels through the Styrofoam base, hits the wall behind it, and then reverberates back.
With stucco, it should feel like knocking on stone. The entire stucco system is like a single large rock, so you can easily tell the difference with this knocking test.
“Check the Gap”
Another way to test for stucco or EIFS is to check the gap. Often times at the base of the construction foundation there is a gap between the bottom of the stucco/EIFS insulation on the wall and the ground itself.
Feel the area under the stucco/EIFS. If you can feel cladding that comes out from the foundation close to an inch (or more) you probably have EIFS insulation on your wall. When installing an EIFS system, the baseboard uses an extension system that is not always completely covered. With stucco insulation, you do not have this.
Check Installation Points To Be Sure
If you are still not sure whether or not you have EIFS or stucco you should check installation points. Remove an outside light fixture, gutter trap, intercom, or any other object that is installed into the wall in or around the stucco/EIFS. If you can see the Styrofoam board, you have EIFS. This will not be present in stucco, though you may indeed be able to see the edge of the metal mesh under the base coat.
By using these three different test methods, you should be able to identify whether or not you have traditional stucco or if an EIFS system was used in the construction of the structure.
Murtagh Construction in PA
We hope our page has proved useful to you. We intended for it to not only explain the difference between these insulation systems but also teach our readers about the installation process.
We believe a more wholesome explanation of the process is always valuable, though we understand some folks may not find this eifs vs stucco discussion as entertaining as we do here at Murtagh Bros Construction! However, if you do, make sure to check back regularly for more articles dealing with everything construction-related.