Benefits of EIFS
The growing popularity of EIFS is due to the fact that few, if any, competitive materials offer such a wide range of desirable product benefits. Chief among these are superior energy efficiency and virtually unlimited design flexibility.
Energy Efficiency and Energy Codes
EIFS can reduce air infiltration by as much as 55% compared to standard brick or wood construction. And since walls are one of the greatest areas of heat and air conditioning loss, improvement in the wall insulation can be very meaningful in terms of energy conservation.
What's more, EIFS add to the "R-value" of a home or building. (R-value is a measurement of the resistance to heat flow; the higher the R-value, the better the material's insulating value.) Most EIFS use insulation board with an R-value of R-4 to R-5.6 per inch as the innermost layer in the wall system. When combined with standard wall cavity insulation, this extra layer can boost wall insulation from R-11 to R-16 or more.
Another point to keep in mind on new construction: Due to the energy efficiency of EIFS, it may be possible to specify lower-capacity heating and air conditioning equipment without sacrificing anything in terms of interior comfort.
The US Department of Energy (DOE) mandated on October 18, 2013, all States update their commercial building code to meet or exceed ASHRAE Standard 90.1 - 2010.
There are a variety of case studies available validating the energy savings associated with EIFS; for a recent example of EIFS in action, you can check out the 2012 Better Buildings Federal Awards Program results, where an EIFS cladded building helped reduce energy use by nearly 45% in a 12 month period.
Unlike wood, stucco and other siding materials, EIFS rarely need painting. Most EIFS systems are specially formulated with 100% acrylic binder, which gives EIFS superior resistance to fading, chalking and yellowing. As a result, the systems tend to maintain their original appearance over time. And since the color is integral to the finish coat, even if the surface is scratched, the same color appears beneath the abrasion.
EIFS also have excellent resistance to dirt, mildew and mold, which helps keep the building exterior looking clean and freshly painted. Should the surface ever become soiled, it can usually be cleaned by hosing it down.
The systems are designed to be very flexible, which makes them highly crack resistant. When walls expand or contract due to rising or falling temperatures, EIFS are resilient enough to "absorb" building movement and thus avoid the unsightly cracking problems that are so common with stucco, concrete and brick exteriors.
EIFS has passed the stringent Miami-Dade County Hurricane Test, showing no impact against hurricane style weather.
The rich appearance of EIFS bears a resemblance to stucco or stone, but the systems are far more versatile than these and other materials. Not only do EIFS come in virtually limitless colors and a wide variety of textures, but they also can be fashioned into virtually any shape or design.
With EIFS, skilled applicators can create all sorts of exterior architectural detailing that would often be cost-prohibitive using conventional construction -- cornices, arches, columns, keystones, cornerstones, special moldings and decorative accents are but a few examples.
Using this ingenious process, EIFS applicators can give a striking, distinctive appearance to any building or residence.
Recent research, conducted by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and supported by the Department of Energy, has validated that EIFS are the "best performing cladding" in relation to thermal and moisture control when compared to brick, stucco, and cementitious fiberboard (commonly known as fiber cement) siding.
EIFS are among the most water resistant exterior surfaces you can put on a house. But as with all claddings, EIFS must be correctly installed and properly detailed if they are to perform properly. Otherwise, moisture can get behind the systems and cause damage, just as it can with wood siding, brick or any other exterior.
Water intrusion is seldom a problem on commercial structures with EIFS. Water intrusion damage to homes is uncommon, but when it does occur, the moisture typically affects only small areas which can be easily and inexpensively repaired.
In cases where homes have been damaged, the problems have been traced to the use of poor quality (even leaky and/or non code-compliant) windows and/or improper flashing and sealing. As a result, when building with EIFS, it is wise to use quality windows (such as those with AAMA certification) which are code-compliant, and to make sure there is proper flashing and sealing around windows, doors, roofs, deck-to-house attachments, and all other exterior wall penetrations.
Periodic maintenance should include thorough checking of the flashing and sealing to ensure that the building envelope remains watertight. Damaged or missing flashing should be repaired or replaced immediately; likewise, cracked or deteriorated sealants should immediately be repaired, or removed and replaced.
EIFS have passed the major fire resistance tests that are required by the building codes. EIFS have passed fire resistance, ignitability, intermediate multi-story, and full scale multi-story corner tests; meeting the standards set forth with each test. These tests include: