Stucco and EIFS: What You Should Know

Stucco may break down in time but they can be easily repaired

Home design and trends change all the time.  If you’ve been considering updating the way your home looks, and are thinking about stucco or EIFS, it’s important to do your research in order to make the best possible choice for your home. Stucco and EIFS create similar looks when applied, but they have distinct differences that may influence your decision on which is best for your home.

Differences Between Stucco and EIFS

EIFS  is popular for residential use because unlike stucco, it doesn't crack over time

If you’ve begun your research already, you’ve likely read that stucco is traditionally made of lime, sand, and water, but more recently, it has also been made of Portland cement, sand and water. EIFS is commonly referred to as “synthetic stucco,” but it’s quite a bit different from stucco. Where stucco is comprised of lime or cement, sand, and water, EIFS—or an exterior insulation and finishing system—is a lightweight wall cladding that is applied to a foam insulation, is installed onto a building.  Both systems are popular for residential use, however there have been some misunderstands about them in the past. In order to make the best choice for your home, it’s important to get all the facts.



Misconceptions About EIFS

In the past, uncertified installers created issues for homeowners by improperly applying EIFS to houses, creating leaks and cracks, which caused the home’s surface underneath the EIFS to mold. This in turn caused a fever of necessary repairs for homeowners, which created a lot of bad press for EIFS. It’s not surprising that today, EIFS tends to have a bad rap, but the truth of the matter is overall, EIFS is not an unsafe or risky material to use on your home. The catch, however, is that you must hire a certified installer to ensure it is applied to your home properly. Dryvit, a leading manufacturer of EIFS, offers classes for installers to learn how to install EIFS correctly, and when you are looking for a contractor, it’s important to ask about their certifications.

Why Do Homeowners Choose EIFS Instead of Stucco?

Homeowners often choose EIFS because it is less expensive to install than stucco. Unfortunately, when trying to save money, this means hiring less-than-reliable contractors who aren’t well-versed in their craft, which can translate to poorly executed work. When it comes to your home, this can cause major problems. EIFS’ popularity arose because—unlike stucco, which can crack over time—it doesn’t crack. One downside to that is that although it doesn’t crack, EIFS’ durability requires precise installation, and if installed incorrectly, extensive repairs may be necessary. This has caused many people to shy away from choosing EIFS. Damages also occurred, for instance, when cable companies would install cable—they would drill holes into the EIFS, then fail to seal the opening properly, which led to mold growth. When properly installed, EIFS will have a drainage system that helps prevent these issues.

Because of these kinds of issues, homeowners started avoiding EIFS; problems with finding insurance coverage and issues when reselling their homes caused people to choose alternative methods, such as siding or traditional stucco.

Thankfully, however, with the advent of certification and increased popularity, people are changing their tune about EIFS.

Benefits of Stucco and EIFS

EIFS can insulate a homes interior from outside weather, which in turn saves energy cost for the owner

Stucco and EIFS are both attractive, modern looking systems for finishing a home’s exterior. Stucco is an incredibly durable material, and even though it may crack over time, the cracks are easily repaired.  Stucco offers a harder surface that can stand up to a beating, while EIFS is a softer material that, if hit with force or weight, may dent or become damaged. However, despite being softer and slightly less durable, EIFS still offers many benefits. For example, because it is an insulated product, it shields a home’s interior from the outdoor climate, which can reduce energy costs for the owners.  A drawback to EIFS is that woodpeckers like to peck it looking for insects and they create holes that will need to be repaired.

Stucco, while more expensive, offers a level of durability that EIFS cannot. After installation, a paint-like product coats the stucco and acts as an elastic, protective cover. It is available in many colors like paint, and makes for easy repairs when they are necessary—with cracks repaired and recoated with the appropriately tinted coating as needed.

It’s important to note that as long as you choose a contractor who is certified to install EIFS, there’s nothing to worry about regarding durability or safety. When installed properly, EIFS is an attractive, long-lasting finishing system for homes, and can create the modern look you’re after. Just be sure to vet the people you choose to work with to ensure you’re getting quality, reliable work done.

Which is the Right Option for You?

Both stucco and EIFS are great options for homeowners. Depending on where you live, it may be necessary to look into local ordinances, as in the past municipalities have had guidelines regarding installing EIFS—for instance, following the rash of poorly installed EIFS, Glenview, IL banned its use. What you will want to consider is the level of durability you’re after as well as what your budget is. EIFS is less expensive, but less durable. Stucco is more expensive, but longer lasting and easier to maintain.

If you have any questions or want more input about which is the best option for your specific needs, feel free to contact Castino Painting and Stucco anytime. We’re happy to address your concerns and provide you with more information about our services. We specialize in stucco and EIFS installation, and we’re a certified EIFS installer.