6) Question: “What is E.I.F.S (synthetic stucco) and why is it so bad?”

Answer: E.I F.S stands for Exterior Insulation Finish System. Commonly called “synthetic stucco”, it is a proprietary system where a very thin cementitious base coat and finish coat is applied over a mesh covered foam base. It is commonly utilized in commercial applications and is actually a really nice system for certain applications. The problem arose when the product became popular for residential applications over wood framing back in the ‘80s. There was a recommendation at the time that it was such a good barrier, it could be applied over wood framing without the need of an underlying waterproof barrier. As with conventional stucco, the problems arose from water intrusions at the terminations. With no underlying barrier, the water migrates straight into the wood structures causing significant damage. There was a class action suit centered on the Southeastern United states which migrated through the courts for years receiving ample press in the process creating the negative stigma the product holds today. Not many people know what it is, but they do know they don’t want it. While not that common in the Austin area, there are some homes with the product installed to be found. It is important to note that E.I.F.S. is no better or worse than conventional stucco in the area of water induced structural deterioration. E.I.F.S. is however; much better at hiding the symptoms of distress as the flexibility of the product allows for significant deterioration before telegraphing the signs to the exterior often reaching the stage of being a “tear-down” before it’s recognized there is a problem. E.I.F.S. homes with water intrusion issues also suffer from significant attacks from wood destroying insects more so than conventional stucco as the underlying foam provides a “raceway” for rapid dispersion and a really nice home for the bugs. Inspections of E.I.F.S. clad wood structures require a significant knowledge base and opinions of those who do not have copious experience at a destructive level should be discarded.