EIFS (Exterior Insulation and Finish System) is also known as synthetic stucco or Dryvit. It is the composition of fiberglass mesh, a primer base coat and foam insulation. Actually, co-polymer resin is used to make synthetic stucco. Almost all the EIFS systems are specially developed using 100% acrylic binder. In fact, to some extent, it is like paint. Consequently, if installed and maintained properly, it tends to maintain the actual shape and look for many years.
Regular maintenances are sealant inspection, finding damage, fixing holes, routine cleaning and recoating. Hiring a certified inspector helps too.
Though the synthetic stucco on your walls may not require refinishing for years, it needs to be maintained properly from time to time.
Jump to: How to clean synthetic stucco?
Sealant inspection: Sealants are crucial for ensuring water prevention inside EIFS structures. Inspect all sealant around the doors and windows. Look carefully for any split, crazing or oldish caulking. Inspect all the stucco transitions, such as stucco to brick or stucco to stone. Besides, check out whether there has been any kind of stucco terminations or not, e.g., at grade, roof, patios or at the walkways.
If you find any caulking missing, dried, oldish or losing adhesion, change the caulking as quickly as possible. Otherwise, it will cause water damage and relevant problems today or tomorrow.
Physical Damage: There are some signs of physical damage such as holes, cracks, rotting, attrition, discoloration, any leaks, mold growth or mildew. Do not overlook any of these issues. These all indicate physical damage of synthetic stucco.
All the holes, cracks, leaks, bulges and wrinkles must be fixed as early as humanly possible to prevent any further damage. Sometimes you may find it difficult to fix the damage. Additionally, you would need sufficient technical knowledge, proper skill or experience to fix these problems properly. You have to blend both the color and texture to make your stucco look good after the repair. Even these repairs may still be visible if you don’t recoat the entire panel.
Therefore, it is better to contact a certified EIFS inspector, if you find signs of such physical damage.
EIFS penetrations: Sometimes you have to make penetrations through your walls synthetic stucco; it is somewhat inevitable these days. Anytime you make any penetrations, be it mounting a satellite dish, new wiring, adding shutters, cables, security systems, plumbing etc., arrange approved and quality and sealants for synthetic stucco and seal those penetration points or perimeters instantly. If left unsealed, these penetration points will be prone to water intrusion gradually.
EIFS Modifications or renovations: It is also very significant to perform any kind of renovations, additions or modifications on synthetic stucco. Sometimes you may need to modify your walls synthetic for technical reasons.
Sometimes we willingly modify or renovate the stucco. Be whatever the situation, any kind of modification including the roof replacement, must be followed by an inspection. A qualified inspector must inspect all the critical details to ensure whether the modification or replacement has been done properly or not. It will set the seal on waterproofing issue.
Note: EIFS painting or recoating is not necessary if you don’t want to change the color or remove the stick stains. Besides, the painting process of EIFS is different from other surfaces. You have to use proper material and procedures while painting or recoating; inexperienced painters may bring trouble anytime. EIFS uses an elastomeric or silicone-based coating. That’s why the traditional latex paint may not match properly. Using the regular coatings may cause irreparable damage by altering the water vapor transmission process of the EIFS and trapping moisture behind the system.
Using solvent-based coatings is not safe either; it can cause the EPS insulation board to dissolve, thus leading to the delamination of the EIFS’s outer layers.
It is recommended to use the EIFS material, coatings provide by the manufacturer.
Recurring Cleaning: To maintain the original appearance and to prevent persistent staining, natural and chemical pollution, it is important to clean the synthetic stucco surface periodically.
When you want to use pressure-cleaning equipment, make sure that the equipment maintains the recommended pressure level by synthetic stucco manufacturer. It will help you prevent any harm to the stucco while cleaning.
You can hire people with expertise in cleaning these synthetic stucco systems. It may cost more, but will ensure accuracy.
Note: Each manufacturer has a set of instruction to do the cleaning properly. If those instructions are followed, there will be no surface damage or color fading. Besides, it is also important for maintaining the warranty.
How to clean synthetic stucco?
Synthetic stucco catches soil dirt very frequently. There are mildew and algae problems as well. To maintain its original appearance, it is significant to prevent it from natural and chemical pollution. You can just clean your synthetic stucco using a solution very easily. To prepare the solution, you will need:
- 3.5 liters of water
- 1 liter of household bleach
- 1 cup of TSP or Trisodium Phosphate (It’s available in almost all the paint departments)
Additionally, you will need a brush of soft-bristle.
Apply the solution on your stucco where you notice dirt. Then wash that area with the brush lightly and slowly for 2-3 minutes. At last, rinse the concerned area thoroughly using clean water. Remember, if you scrub or bristle hardly, it can cause damage to the walls surface.
With proper precautions, you can also pressure wash your synthetic stucco. However, it is wise not to exceed 850-100 psi while pressure washing. Moreover, when beginning, pointing the wand at the finish may cause damage to the structure. Point the wand at any other place and bring it down slowly towards the finish.
Note: If you use high-pressure washing process, it can easily damage EIFS and other surfaces like brick and concrete. So apply the low pressure cleaning process, which can bring the same satisfactory outcome if applied efficiently.
If the dirt or soiled area is not cleaned yet, you have to re-coat your synthetic stucco walls. Use certified paint of any stucco manufacturer
Zero maintenance landscaping: Sometimes the landscaping companies can damage your synthetic stucco or EIFs-built home’s finish. Technical moves like a low maintenance landscaping or a zero maintenance-landscaping can diminish the chance of such damage. It is recommended to create zero maintenance landscaping that becomes apparent by at least 18-inch from your house.
Other Safety precautions: Try to prevent any impact damage on your synthetic stucco. Synthetic stucco cannot stand any kind of severe impact. Besides, if you have to lean a ladder against your home’s walls, do not forget to pad the ends of the ladder. It will protect your walls and grounds from scars and other damages.
Maintenance Schedule: One of the most important parts of synthetic stucco maintenance is setting up a maintenance or inspection schedule with a certified stucco specialist. It is better if you schedule the inspection annually. If not annually, schedule it in every 2 years. Carefully inspect the interior and exterior of your house to see whether you find any sign of damage or not. If needed, repair your stucco at that time.
Why is maintenance important?
As you already know, synthetic stucco is colorfast. It can support a wide range of textures. The magnificent and well thought architectural designs of synthetic stucco offer excellent insulation, breathability and durability. Nevertheless, all of these marketable and desirable EIFS built houses may dishearten you devastatingly within no time, if you remain indifferent to the EIFS. Issues like water intrusion or deterioration are very common these days, and lack of maintenance is the one of main reasons for it. For example, cracks on stucco may result in holes, water or air intrusion, and ultimately a total failure of your stucco.
Synthetic stucco is a system where it is better to detect any problem as early as possible. Vigilant eyes and proper maintenance effectively diminishes the risk of any severer stucco problems. Therefore, to ensure your EIFS’s longevity, maintain it.