A tweaked version of stucco, Exterior insulation finishing system or EIFS has gained popularity among homeowners due to its unique texture, weather sealing features and competitive cost. However, it has gone through an era of lawsuits and backlash in the United States.
Due to multiple lawsuits in the 1990s by EIFS homeowners, EIFS saw a large decline in its usage. Insurers started to look away as lawsuits poured in. Much of the concern has been recovered today with the entrance of a drainage system in EIFS sidings. That’s why EIFS Stucco is still a thing in the United States and Europe.
Current state of EIFS
EIFS is being used all over North America and Europe. After 2000, a new drainage based EIFS version became more popular. It offered the same insulation and weather sealing but it can drain the water out in case moisture gets in. Such improvement over predecessors and the unique texture of EIFS has kept it still relevant.
The department of energy has declared it to be the best performing cladding in terms of thermal and moisture control. They think it does better than traditional sidings.
Even though the new version has its advantages, some homeowners are still facing issues regarding to their EIFS sidings. More often than not, it’s a moisture issue. Poor workmanship and lack of adherence to the manufacturer’s instructions have led to these issues.
Has the use of EIFS slowed down?
Yes, after 1990.
The shaky growth of EIFS industry
EIFS emerged in the 1970s, when the oil price started to go up. It proved to be a energy efficient material. As time went on, the cladding system became more popular. You will find a lot of EIFS built houses in Texas, Florida and Alabama dated back to 1980s. The trend saw a backlash when moisture issues entered the market. People were finding mold growth and resultant damage in their houses built of EIFS. As engineers inspected those house, it was clear that the insulating feature of EIFS became the main enemy of home owners. The famous ‘barrier’ based EIFS allowed no water to penetrate the system. But due to poor installation and inevitable reality, water got inside and couldn’t exit. The walls had no way to drain the water out because of the ‘barrier’. Long story short, EIFS became a concern for home owners and insurers. Although lawyers might be glad with numerous lawsuits coming in. The houses lost their value by 20% to 35%. Realtors refused to sell those houses. Insurers wouldn’t cooperate.
In an article written in 1994, C. “Buck” Buchanan, a past president of EIFS Industry Members Association, claimed that no other material could compete with EIFS at the time of writing the article. He then added his concern saying that if contractors went ahead with poor installation, unwarranted application and wrong maintenance, the material would see a steep growth. Much of his concern came true when home owners were suing companies like Dryvit left and right. EIFS houses started to face mold issues and subsequent damage. Fortunately, new versions of EIFS with drainage systems saved the day for respective companies and contractors. Still it took the insurers some time to acknowledge the difference between EIFS barriers and EIFS-drainage systems. Their hesitancy prolonged the fear of EIFS based houses. The market did take a turn but now the proper installation of these products still remains a matter of concern.
Why are they afraid of EIFS stucco?
Some issues are as old as the first EIFS entrance into the market. Due to moisture and wet condition, homeowners complain of these issues:
- Higher level of humidity inside
- Termites, ants, and other insects
- Cracks and holes
- Mold growth
- Paint peeling off
- Cracks around windows, doors and electrical features
The barrier type of products brought in hundreds of lawsuits in Birmingham, Alabama. Old EIFS houses faced the same in North Carolina and Virginia too. The states saw such cases regardless of their climate conditions. Good for owners of new drainage based EIFS sidings, they could relax at the time of such uproar against EIFS houses. The drainage systems seemed to work well with moisture and humid climate at that time. Dryvit emerged in the space with EIFS in 1969 and changed the arena of weather sealed cladding materials. But they felt the heat when hundreds of lawsuits came their way. Some home owners took a few grands home but the EIFS boom came to a standstill.