Many reports describe problems with moisture buildup in an EIFS system. What causes these problems in an EIFS system and how can they be prevented?
To be fair, water intrusion into buildings is a problem with many types of cladding systems, not just EIFS. Moisture buildup in wall systems is especially prevalent in regions with hot and humid climates regardless of the type of cladding. Moisture problems can be associated with material defects and design errors; however, the overwhelming majority of these problems are caused by construction defects and poor craftsmanship.
This is particularly true of DEFS and classic EIFS since there is no WRB as a back-up. Even the smallest of construction errors can allow water directly into the wall cavity. The good news is prevention can easily be obtained. If expired material arrives at the job site, reject it. Consult with knowledgeable designers and building envelope specialists. Insist on quality and be sure to include a quality assurance program in your project.
From a contractor’s standpoint, what must be done to ensure that an EIFS system performs successfully?
Construction is a tough business and translating design intent from “mouse clicks” to “bricks” is often a dilemma for contractors. It is not an enviable position and we respect the challenges they face. Nonetheless, installing EIFS (or anything else) correctly and in compliance with the construction documents is ultimately the contractor’s responsibility. If we could offer one piece of advice to contractors, it would be to invest in better training for your crews, and then as a follow up, hold your craftsmen accountable to installing a quality product. It has been our observation over the years that this is single-handedly the biggest thing contractors could do to improve the performance and reduce risk.
Any reassuring words for owners/developers who are considering an EIFS system?
First, don’t be afraid of EIFS. It is a perfectly acceptable cladding system. That said, do your homework. As you can see from our comments above it is more complicated than it may appear. Always use a water-managed EIFS system that incorporates a weather resistive barrier as a back-up. Second, get your designer or a third party to provide observations in the field to verify the installation is in compliance with the construction documents and manufacturer requirements.
Since most construction defect litigation is attributable to poor craftsmanship, this is the single best thing owners can do to protect their investments.
Last, plan for and resolve your warranty and insurance concerns at the front end of the project. Comprehensive labor and material warranties are available from the EIFS manufacturers, but you have to ask for them in advance!
Category: EIFS, Exterior Wall System