Problems with Exterior Insulation Finish Systems (EIFS)

  • EIFS siding systems involve the application of a plasticized cement stucco product on top of an exterior mounted polystyrene foam board insulation. This system is usually ‘top coated’ with an acrylic polymer sealant. The promise of the system has been: low cost, ease of application and a “clean” look. The reality is another matter.
  • Reports from various parts of the country show that moisture can be trapped behind the siding and cause wood rot and other damage. This has lead a number of jurisdictions to ban EIFS siding. And, based upon by experience and industry reports, it appears that the failure rate of EIFS siding system is higher than that of any other siding system on the market. Some insurance companies are reported to be refusing to insure homes and buildings with this type of siding, and at least one leading manufacturer has stopped to produce a component product. For the EIFS industry point of view please call: (800) 898 2842, and (800) 294 EIMA (the EIFS trade association).
  • In an attempt to solve some of the problems associated with EIFS siding systems, various special details and “water management” solutions have been developed by the industry. Some of the special details involve more complicated flashing and caulking systems. The “water managed” systems provide for a secondary “shield” behind the EIFS siding and for a way to drain any water which might have penetrated the “primary” water barrier.
  • In light of the extensive amount of damage associated with EIFS siding in wet climates, and in light of the frequency of design and installation errors found with these systems, EIFS siding is not recommend  in wet or moist climates.
  • The special details and water managed systems that are being recommended in the trade journals for EIFS siding systems may turn out to be sufficient to make this siding product reliable. However, these special details are very complicated and require an unrealistically high level of work quality.