Exterior insulation and finish systems, EIFS, are multilayered, proprietary exterior wall systems and finishes popular for their colors, textures, design, and stunning material appearance. EIFS are cost-effective for builders and energy-efficient for reducing air penetration by over 50% (https://www.eima.com/eifs/benefits) compared to wood construction or bricks. The State of Colorado has a taste for designs and finishes on buildings, and we shall be looking at the primary benefits and application of EIFS finishes in Colorado.
Walls are considered one of the greatest heat and air conditioning loss bodies. EIFS on walls can reduce air infiltration by up to 55% (https://www.eima.com/eifs/benefits), improving wall insulation, especially energy conversion.
Have you heard of “R-Value”? Well, the R-Value is a measure of the resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-Value of a material, the higher its insulating value. The standard wall cavity has insulation of R-7 to R10.4, when combined with EIFS (mostly with insulation board with an R-value of R-4 to R-5.6), can be boosted from R-11 to R-16 or better in some cases.
The energy efficiency of EIFS makes it possible to specify low-capacity heating and air conditioning equipment without trading it for the comfort of your interior.
EIFS was the first of finishes to meet the Continuous Insulation standards and, ever since, has been the solution to the expanded requirements.
Durability is one of the prominent features of EIFS. When using EIFS on materials, you do not need painting, which cannot be said for stucco, wood, or other sliding materials. Most EIFS are specially composed of 100% acrylic binder formula, making them resistant to fading, yellowing, and chalking. Consequently, EIFS tend to preserve their original appearance over time. Even when the surface is scratched, it still maintains the same color beneath the scratched surface.
Dirt, mold, and mildew are impurities that can ruin the appearance of materials. Fortunately, EIFS has strong resistance to these impurities, keeping the exterior of buildings ever clean and radiant. In the event of a soiled surface, it can easily be cleaned by hosing it down.
EIFS are highly resistant to crack, thanks to their flexible design. Walls expand or contract due to the rise and fall in the environment’s temperature, which is undesirable in construction. In cases like these, EIFS has the absorbing capacity to accommodate these changes and avoid cracking problems, which are limitations of other wall finishes.
EIFS scores very high on durability; this is evident in the stringent Miami-Dade Country Hurricane Test conducted as the system showed zero impact against hurricane-style weather.
EIFS are known to be resilient, durable, and highly sustainable. The factors that make EIFS high resistance to impact are the same for most quality construction- firm and complete specifications, good design, appropriate products, and quality construction. High impact resistance can also be achievable by employing industry-best application practices and very effective and cost-friendly materials.
Designers and professionals in finishing can view this impact-resistant EIFS document as it provides information on how to achieve impact-resistant performance that aligns with project and client expectations.
EIFS have a similar look to stucco or stone, but they vary in strength and versatility from the other materials. EIFS has the advantage of a variety of colors and textures. They can also be designed to fit almost any shape or design.
Individuals skilled in EIFS application can design various architectural detailing that would ordinarily be too expensive using regular construction such as arches, cornices, keystones, columns, special modules, cornerstones, and decorative accents, to mention a few.
Utilizing this design flexibility of EIFS, experts can achieve a striking, stand-out appearance for any building.
Based on the research recently concluded by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, supported by the Department of Energy, EIFS has been approved as the material for the best performing cladding concerning thermal and moisture regulation when compared to other finishes such as fiber cement, stucco, and brick.
If you’re looking for the best water-resistant finish to put in your home or building, you can bet on EIFS to achieve that; however, it is essential that EIFS is correctly installed and detailed appropriately if you want to achieve maximum results. Otherwise, things could go wrong, and when moisture gets behind the systems, just as it would affect brick, wood siding, any other exterior.
Commercial structures with EIFS finish seldom suffer water intrusion. It rarely affects homes, too, but when it occurs, the damage done by the moisture is usually minimal and can be repaired easily. Where moisture affects homes, cases have been reportedly traced to materials with poor quality or improper sealing. Consequently, you should always use code-compliant, quality windows (get those with AAMA certification, if possible) and make sure to have appropriate flashing and sealing around your windows, deck-house attachments, roofs, and any other exterior wall penetrations.
Proper maintenance- proper checking of sealing and flashing to ensure the physical separator between the building and the environment is watertight. Cases of missing flashing should also be fixed immediately. Deteriorated sealants should be fixed or replaced immediately as well.
Various Application of EIFS in Colorado
For the perfect application of EIFS, the following ten steps may be applied:
Attachments: specifically formulated adhesives are used to formulate EIFS elements. Metal fasteners are a bad choice because of their conductivity.
Backwrapping with Reinforcing Mesh: the reinforced mesh is attached to the substrate to hold the insulation board.
Preparing the Insulation Board: the insulation board can be cut with a knife using a T-square to ensure a good cut.
Adhesive application: the adhesives should be added to the EPS using a notched trowel. The ribbons should be allowed to run parallel to the dimension of the board.
Installing the insulation boards: the boards are placed in no space between them to create breaks. Check for breaks or spaces after insulation. No matter how small, they must be covered with insulation material.
Rasping: the entire insulation board should be rasped with sandpaper for a smooth and levelled surface.
Base Coat and Mesh Application: a base coat is applied to prevent the effect of direct sunlight on the insulation board surface. The mesh should also be embedded such that it must not be visible through the base coat.
Finish Coating: the finish coat should be continually applied directly over the base coat.
Floating: apply texture to the outer surface with various products and applications methods.
Sealant: the final step involves applying a sealant to joints where EPS boards connect the EPS boards to another surface. The sealant tends to stretch as the surfaces move. It acts as a shock absorber between the surface (doorframe, meter box, etc.).
EIF Finishes are energy efficient, durable, impact resistant and make your house look good
EIFS is one of the most used finishes in Colorado and the United States at large. As an architect or builder, you should check the EIFS manufacturer’s reputation, installation programs, and warranty. The future holds unlimited benefits and applications for EIFS. Builders should also use quality and appropriate tools and educate themselves by attending EIMA Doing-It-Right seminars. Do your job by delivering a better job, and the industry will take pride in taking care of you.