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EIFS vs STUCCO: What Sets Them Apart?

Well if you are considering stucco siding for your home, it's understandable - stucco is a very durable material that adds character to your home's exterior while protecting it from the elements.


When installed correctly, stucco creates a solid shield around your house, and it can be a fast and cost-effective project.


EIFS (Exterior Insulation and Finish System) and stucco are two exterior cladding systems that are commonly used for residential and commercial buildings. While both EIFS and stucco are applied onto the walls, they have several differences in their construction, appearance, and performance.


stucco vs eifs photo

But hey, to make things easy, you can check out this comparison table below.


Simplified Comparison Table for Easy Decision-Making for Stucco vs EIFS


Factor

EIFS

Traditional Stucco

Cost

$8 – $14 per sq. ft., fully installed

$7 – $9 per sq. ft., fully installed

Durability

Although resistant to cracking, this product may trap moisture beneath the surface.

Susceptible to cracking yet highly breathable (facilitates the exchange of moisture)

Upkeep

Minimal upkeep needed besides routine cleaning

Requires extra maintenance, including patching, caulking, and repainting

Appearance

Expanded color choices and enhanced texture

Restricted range of colors and a rugged, rough texture

Installation

Potential for DIY installation

Environmental impact

Relies on petroleum, making it non-renewable

The process of producing Portland cement, which is integral to its composition, necessitates abundant energy and emits substantial amounts of CO2

Resale value

Offers an ROI of around 70%

Offers an ROI of around 70% (same as EIFS)


Now, let's explore the options in more detail.


Table of Contents:



Traditional Stucco: A Practical and Timeless Choice for Your Home


Traditional stucco continues to be a popular choice for homeowners looking for a timeless and sophisticated look for their homes, no doubt about it, but


What is Traditional Stucco?


The traditional Stucco is a cement-based material that is applied over a wire or wood lath to create a durable and attractive finish for exterior walls. Traditional stucco consists of a mixture of cement, sand, lime, and water. This mixture is applied in several layers, allowing each layer to dry and harden before the next one is added.


The final product is a thick, textured coating that can be left as is or painted.


eifs stucco vs traditional stucco

Benefits of Traditional Stucco


  1. Durability: One of the key advantages of traditional stucco is its long-lasting durability. When properly installed and maintained, stucco can easily last for several decades (50 to 80 years).

  2. Energy Efficiency: Stucco has excellent insulation properties, keeping homes cool in summer and warm in winter. This energy-efficient characteristic can help homeowners save on heating and cooling costs, making it an attractive option for those seeking sustainability and energy efficiency.

  3. Versatility: Traditional stucco offers a wide range of design options. It can be applied in different textures and finishes, including smooth, rough, or textured, giving homeowners the freedom to choose the look and feel that suits their style preferences. Additionally, stucco can be painted in any color, allowing for endless customization possibilities.

  4. Low Maintenance: Another benefit of traditional stucco is its low maintenance requirements. Unlike other exterior finishes that may require regular painting or staining, stucco generally only needs occasional cleaning to remove dirt and debris. This can save homeowners both time and money in the long run.


Cons of Traditional Stucco


  1. Cost: The upfront cost of traditional stucco can be higher compared to other exterior finishes such as vinyl siding. The materials and labor required for installation can be expensive, especially if the project involves intricate detailing or repairs.

  2. Susceptibility to Cracking: Although traditional stucco is highly durable, it is not completely immune to cracking. Over time, small cracks may develop due to natural settling, shifts in the foundation, or environmental factors like temperature fluctuations. Regular inspections and timely repairs can help minimize any issues.

  3. Moisture Intrusion: If not properly installed and maintained, moisture can seep into the stucco, causing damage to the underlying structure. Proper waterproofing techniques and regular inspections are crucial to prevent water infiltration and ensure the longevity of the stucco finish.


EIFS: The Ins and Outs of Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems


Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems (EIFS), also known as synthetic stucco, have gained popularity mainly in commercial buildings in recent years as an alternative to traditional stucco. This versatile and energy-efficient cladding system offers a range of benefits for homeowners looking to enhance the appearance and insulation of their homes.


Now let's explore what EIFS is, as well as its advantages and disadvantages.


What is EIFS?


EIFS is a multilayered cladding system that combines insulation, a reinforced base coat, and a textured finish coat. The system typically consists of polystyrene insulation boards that are attached to the exterior wall, followed by a base coat reinforced with fiberglass mesh, and finally, a durable and decorative finish coat. EIFS is designed to improve the energy efficiency and aesthetics of a building, while also providing some additional benefits.


eifs vs traditional stucco

Benefits of EIFS for Your House


  1. Energy Efficiency: EIFS offers excellent thermal performance, making it highly energy-efficient.

  2. Enhanced Appearance: EIFS provides a smooth and seamless finish to the exterior of your home. The finish coat can be customized in various colors, textures, and architectural details, allowing homeowners to achieve a unique and distinctive look. Also, EIFS can mimic the appearance of other materials such as stone or brick, giving your house a high-end aesthetic without the associated cost.

  3. Moisture Management: One of the key benefits of EIFS is its ability to manage moisture effectively. The system acts as a barrier against water infiltration, preventing moisture from seeping into the interior of the walls. EIFS incorporates drainage systems that channel any water that may penetrate the system away from the structure, reducing the risk of water damage and mold growth.

  4. Flexibility: EIFS is a highly flexible material, allowing it to accommodate the natural movements of a building. This flexibility helps prevent cracking and other forms of damage that can occur due to temperature changes, settling, or structural shifts. By minimizing the likelihood of cracks, EIFS provides long-term durability for your home's exterior.

Cons of EIFS Stucco

  1. Moisture Intrusion: While properly installed EIFS systems are designed to manage moisture effectively, improper installation or lack of regular maintenance can lead to water infiltration. If water penetrates the system and remains trapped behind the EIFS, it can lead to structural damage and potential mold growth. Proper installation by professionals and ongoing maintenance are essential to avoid these issues.

  2. Cost: EIFS installation costs can be higher compared to other cladding options. The materials used and the specialized skills required for installation contribute to the higher initial investment. However, considering the energy savings and long-term durability, many homeowners view EIFS as a worthwhile investment.

  3. Limited Breathability: EIFS is not a breathable material, meaning that it does not allow moisture or vapor to easily pass through its layers. This lack of breathability can potentially trap moisture within the wall cavity, leading to mold or rot issues. Once again, proper installation and moisture management systems are crucial to mitigate this risk.




EIFS vs Stucco: How to Tell



difference between eifs and stucco

To determine whether your home has EIFS or traditional "hard-coat" stucco, simply knock on an outer wall. If it sounds hollow, there's a good chance it's EIFS. If it feels solid like a brick wall, it's more likely to be traditional stucco. Here are a few key differences between them for you to understand more.


  • As we mentioned in detail before, EIFS is a multi-layered system that consists of insulation board, base coat, reinforcement mesh, and finish coat. The insulation board is attached to the building's exterior wall and coated with a base coat and reinforcement mesh. This mesh prevents cracking and adds strength, which is why it creates a "hollow sound" when knocked on. Finally, the finish coat is applied, which can be customized to provide any color or texture.


  • Stucco, on the other hand, is a cement-based product that is applied in three layers: scratch coat, brown coat, and finish coat. The scratch coat is the first coat that is applied directly to the wall. It provides a rough surface for the brown coat to adhere to. The brown coat is the second layer of stucco that gives the wall some extra strength and thickness. You'll definitely feel it when you knock on it - it's rough and might even give your hand a little ouch. That's how you know it's a stucco wall! Finally, the finish coat is applied, which again can be customized to provide any color or texture.


EIFS vs. Traditional Stucco: Which Option is Most Suitable for Your Type of Home?



While both options offer durability and aesthetics, understanding the specific needs of your home construction can help you determine which option is the most suitable. As professional stucco contractors in Florida, we would like to offer our advice on this matter.


Homes that benefit the most from EIFS include:


Older Homes: EIFS can be a great option for retrofitting older homes that lack proper insulation. By adding a layer of insulation with EIFS, homeowners can enhance the energy efficiency of their homes while also updating the exterior appearance.


stucco or eifs

Contemporary Homes: EIFS complements contemporary architecture well, offering a sleek and modern finish. Its versatility allows for the integration of different design elements, such as geometric shapes or accent details, to create a cohesive and visually appealing exterior.


difference between stucco and eifs

Homes in Climates with Extreme Temperatures: If you live in an area with hot summers or cold winters, EIFS can help regulate indoor temperatures, reducing reliance on heating and cooling systems and lowering energy costs.


Homes that benefit the most from traditional stucco include:


Mediterranean or Spanish-Style Homes: Traditional stucco complements the aesthetic of Mediterranean or Spanish-style homes, evoking a sense of warmth and charm. Its textured finish and earthy tones enhance the architectural beauty of these styles.


Historical Homes: If you have a historical or vintage home, traditional stucco can help restore its original character while providing a durable and authentic exterior.

Homes in Dry Climates: Traditional stucco is well-suited for homes in dry climates, as it is resistant to cracking and can withstand the desert heat.


stucco versus eifs

Additionally, stucco's ability to breathe allows for moisture evaporation, minimizing the risk of moisture-related issues in these arid regions.


Stucco Vs EIFS Cost


EIFS requires more time for installation compared to traditional stucco, resulting in higher initial installation costs. However, EIFS has lower lifetime costs, including maintenance and repairs, and boasts a longer lifespan. Therefore, EIFS proves to be a more cost-effective option in the long run.



EIFS

Stucco

$8 – $14 per sq. ft., fully installed

$7 – $9 per sq. ft., fully installed


EIFS


EIFS, fully installed, costs between $8 and $14 per square foot of wall space. For a standard home with 1,500 square feet of siding, the total cost ranges from $12,000 to $21,000.


Traditional Stucco


On the other hand, traditional stucco, fully installed, costs between $7 and $9 per square foot. For a house with 1,500 square feet of wall space, the installation cost falls between $10,500 and $13,500.


It is important to note that the cost of stuccoing a house, whether using traditional stucco or EIFS, can vary significantly based on factors such as location, time of year, and the contractor hired for the job.


EIFS and Stucco vs. Other Options


There are several siding materials to choose from after stucco and EIFS. However, traditional wooden siding may be a better option for your home and budget. If you are unsure which siding material is best for your needs, it's recommended to contact a local home exterior professional for assistance.


Vs. Wood Siding


Wooden siding is popular for those wanting a traditional look. Although there is a wide range of wood varieties available, cedar and redwood are common due to their decay resistance. Wooden siding is simple to install, and a damaged board can easily be replaced. This material is an environmentally friendly choice if sourced sustainably, as it is renewable and biodegradable.


Vs. Vinyl siding


Vinyl siding is made of PVC plastic resin boards, which are treated to resist mildew, rot, and chipping. It's easy to install, cost-effective, and available in many colors. Although it can warp and melt in hot climates.


Vs. Concrete Siding


Concrete siding or fiber cement siding is a suitable option for any climate as it performs well in resisting moisture. This option contains Portland cement, which can be energy-intensive to produce.


However, it has a long life and durability, reducing the chance of early replacement and ultimately reducing waste in landfills.



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