EIFS (Synthetic Stucco) vs. “Real” or “Hard” Stucco

eifs.jpgSo one of the cool things about my job is I get plenty of opportunity to learn new things. While I find that I do much more continuing education than the real estate commission requires to learn about contract updates etc., one place I really learn some stuff is in the “field” with my clients.

One of my buyer clients is in the commercial building industry and brought to my attention the distinction between ‘synthetic’ stucco, or EIFS (which he pronounced ‘eefis’ ) versus ‘real’ stucco. He explained to me that the commercial building industry had had some problems with EIFS historically and he told me some of the ups and downs of the product. Ultimately he decided the house wasn’t for him but it didn’t come down to the EIFS stucco but other factors instead.There are some very positive things about EIFS, such as it’s resistance to cracking.

I had the opportunity to sell a home in the Boulder area that was not EIFS but traditional stucco and it did have some cracks but it’s really hard for me to compare the two isolated incidents of the home I was marketing for sale and the one my buyer considered with EIFS. The stucco home we were marketing was easily fixed with a little maintenance and the happy buyers got a wonderful home.

Some of what I learned from my client and subsequently from more research is that EIFS doesn’t breath (apparently ‘real’ stucco can breath somewhat) and it’s this ability to trap moisture behind the outer sheath or layer that can cause a problem. By installing, sealing and maintaining it properly, EIFS appears to be a good product.

The places where we saw concern were around windows and doors mostly. Being certain that any points of entry for water are sealed properly, you’ll probably be in good shape. While we live in a fairly dry climate and people don’t often think of water being a risk to their home. If you are in this camp check out my other post on mold. Energy Star homes and ground contamination are two additional related topics that you might also find interesting.
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-Zachary Epps, full-time professional Realtor® and EcoBroker®

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