If you’re interested in stucco, who can honestly blame you? It’s a beautiful material with lots of personality, without being excessive about it. It provides a solid, unified and form-fitting shell. It can even be detailed and etched into friezes and daises and other ornate decorations, which are solid parts of the overall structure.
It’s great at deflecting sunlight, it’s pretty durable, and it’s a very trendy material these days, even in places where you’d never expect to see it in the past. Yeah, stucco’s nice, but did you know there are actually to major types of this material, and when you approach a contractor, you’re going to be asked: do you want traditional stucco, or EIFS?
Well, unless you work with this sort of thing for a living, you undoubtedly won’t know what EIFS even is. Today, we’re going to point out the differences between traditional stucco and EIFS, and maybe lay out the pros and cons of going with one versus the other. They both have their strengths and weaknesses in that regard.
Please note there’s no right or wrong choice with this – it simply depends on some things we’re going to take a good look at today.
What is Stucco?
Traditional stucco is essentially Portland cement, some lime, sand and water. It creates a plaster-like consistency that can be spread across walls, ceilings and other surfaces. Once it cures, it creates a continuous, textured finish with a unique feel and look to it.
It is generally applied over a base mesh that will look something like industrial chicken wire (but, it is not chicken wire). This material is very old, but tried and true technology, and most skilled cement workers have experience with it, and have an excellent understanding of it.
What is EIFS?
EIFS is synthetic stucco siding. Unlike traditional stucco, EIFS is applied in layers. First, there is a layer of polystyrene board, over which a synthetic stucco is applied. After this, a fiberglass mesh is applied, and then a finishing coat. This produces a structured, layered material that’s got some structural advantages compared to traditional stucco, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
If you already have stucco, which was applied by a previous homeowner, you can distinguish EIFS by the presence of a fiberglass and foam backboard layer once damage does show itself.
Advantages of Stucco Siding
Traditional stucco has its appeal. It’s faster to apply, and given it’s been around for a long time, most contractors whom do cement, have this down to a science. It’s a lot more affordable than EIFS given it’s just specially-mixed Portland cement and some mesh.
It cures very quickly due to not being as rigid or dense as other cements, it’s easier to repair, and when remediation comes along (and given enough time, it will happen), it’s much less of an undertaking due to the above simplicity. It’s also easier to work with for decorative measures discussed earlier, because it’s more pliable than EIFS by nature.
Advantages of EIFS (Synthetic Stucco Siding)
EIFS is a more durable material. The polystyrene backing provides a more cushioned, insulator layer with more sealing against water damage. It also helps with flexibility, reducing tendency to crack or crumble as a home settles, or thermal expansion works its black magic on exteriors.
EIFS’ layered material and fiberglass also helps add to this flexibility and durability, as well as being more resistant to weathering, wind and impacts as a result. With its somewhat modular nature, remediation may also not require an entire wall be torn away, merely existing panel segments, as the continuity of the material is a bit of an illusion compared to traditional stucco.
Which is Best for Your Home?
Like we said a little while ago, there’s no one right answer for everyone with this. But, a general rule of thumb is what you want out of your house’s look (do you want etching and ornate designs?), what your budget is, and what your climate is both affect this.
Let’s look at a few of the cons of both materials, which help to apply either material to these concerns pretty clearly.
Cons of Stucco:
- Stucco, when damaged, requires remediation of an entire wall most of the time. It is prone to cracks over time, which let water damage in, that spreads through a whole wall usually.
- Stucco is more susceptible to rapid temperature changes and weathering, making it more of a maintenance headache in varied climate zones such as the northern and midwestern USA.
Cons of EIFS:
- EIFS has a more arduous installation process, due to the multiple layers, which need to be very precisely applied.
EIFS is more costly than traditional stucco, and not all contractors out there are that familiar nor experienced with it. You need to have a contractor that knows what they’re doing, through and through, if you want to work with EIFS. Fortunately, at JDT, we absolutely know what we’re doing!
To learn more about stucco and EIFS, fill out our contact form or call us today. We’re happy to share our years of experience and knowledge with you.