Traditional Stucco vs. Synthetic (EIFS)

There are two types of stucco and although they may appear similar upon first glance, they are very different.

Hard stucco is strong, durable, and comparable to covering your house in rock. It is comprised of Portland cement, sand, a small amount of lime, and water. It is a time-tested exterior breathable finish, and it is applied using a waterproof barrier paper, galvanized wire mesh, and metal flashings. This material is not known for holding water, but is a porous material that allows water to move in and out. It tends to hold up well overtime.

Synthetic stucco, also known as EIFS (Exterior Insulation and Finish System) is a multi-layer system that began being used to repair buildings after WWII. Currently, there are 6 layers in EIFS. There is an optional water restrictive barrier, adhesive, foam insulation, base coat, reinforcement mesh, and a final finish that serves for decoration and added protection. These layers come together and form in a way that does not allow breathing. This is ideal until moisture is present, and this can lead to dry rot in wood.  When leakage occurs, it was most commonly from leaky windows and poor construction.

In order to determine the difference between hard stucco and EIFS when looking at homes, you can tap to see if it sounds hollow. EIFS has a hollow sound, whereas hard stucco sounds solid, like you are knocking brick. Hard stucco visibly varies as well. It tends to have longer cracks and is more rigid to the touch, whereas EIFS has shorter cracks present and is much softer. The difference can also be discovered if you remove light fixtures from the siding to see if there’s a styrofoam type board present, which would determine EIFS.

Both products are fire resistant, make great sound barriers, and vary in both style and color to meet people’s preferences.

If you’re looking to find a home that meets the preferences of your family, contact The Peter’s Company, and we would be honored to assist you.

Written by Claire Conarro

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