The Pros & Cons of Commercial Stucco & EIFS

outside of fire department building
Whether it’s finishing the exterior of a new structure or updating the appearance of an older building, stucco remains a popular choice in finishes. It’s not a new idea; in fact, stucco surfaces have been found in ancient Greek buildings dating back to over 1,000 years ago.

While traditional cement plaster stucco is still widely used, Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems (EIFS) is also a popular choice. It isn’t exactly a newcomer to the exterior finish scene, either; this synthetic stucco has been in use in Europe since the end of World War II.

Let’s take a look at these two popular finishes and discuss the pros and cons of commercial stucco and EIFS.

Pros and Cons of Commercial Stucco: The Traditional Choice

Stucco is a plaster mixture of cement, sand, limestone powder, and water. The application process starts with an insulating foam board followed by a fiberglass mesh overlay. The stucco material is applied over this surface in two or the more traditional three layers. 

Pros of Commercial Stucco

  • Traditional commercial stucco is easy to work with and can be used on a flat or a curved surface.
  • It is quick to install and cure. 
  • Maintenance costs are relatively low and minor remediation is easy.
  • Traditional stucco is fire resistant.
  • The installation process of commercial stucco provides enhanced insulation and energy efficiency.
  • It can be used to cover a wide variety of exterior surfaces such as concrete, wood, or brick.
  • Traditional stucco is easily covered with paint when it’s time for a change.
  • Stucco resists mildew, mold, and other rot.

Cons of Commercial Stucco

  • Major damages to traditional stucco surfaces may require extensive remediation of the entire affected wall.
  • At ten pounds per square foot, traditional stucco will significantly add to your structure’s weight.
  • Commercial stucco is susceptible to staining from rainfall, other moisture, and even roof debris.
  • Traditional stucco is rigid, which can make it prone to cracking. 
  • If water is introduced below the surface, stucco can chip, crack, or peel without quick remediation.
  • Traditional commercial stucco is brittle, meaning that it can be vulnerable to damage following extreme weather such as hail, ground shifting, and flying objects such as debris. 

Pros and Cons of EIFS: Synthetic Stucco

An EIFS looks almost identical to traditional stucco, so much so that it can be very hard to tell the difference.   

The process of EIFS installation is a little more complicated than with traditional commercial stucco. An EIFS requires a six step process, including:

  • Water-resistant barrier
  • Adhesives to connect the substrate and the insulation
  • Insulation board
  • Mesh reinforcement
  • Base coat
  • Finishing coat

Even though EIFS installation is a lot more involved than traditional commercial stucco, synthetic stucco surface provides many benefits.

Pros of EIFS

  • Despite the number of layers involved in the installation process, an Exterior Insulated Finishing System weighs around 80% less than traditional stucco.
  • An EIFS’s multiple layers mean it is even more energy efficient than conventional stucco.
  • EIFS is a very flexible material, making it easy to mold around shapes, arches, doorways, etc.
  • An EIFS can be finished in multiple ways, and made to resemble other materials such as traditional stucco or brick.
  • The flexibility of EIFS makes it less susceptible to damage from environmental changes.
  • The multiple layers of the EIFS include fiberglass, making synthetic stucco more durable than traditional.
  • An EIFS provides enhanced protection to the structure.

Cons of EIFS

  • The complex installation process and the use of more materials can drive up costs.
  • If the installation didn’t include a drainage layer, water will become trapped and will not evaporate as quickly as with traditional stucco.
  • An EIFS will require more frequent inspections due to potential water infiltration issues.
  • Compared to traditional stucco, there is a lack of experienced, certified installers.

Robey Incorporated Will Tackle Your Commercial Stucco or EIFS Project

With over 30 years of experience, Robey is the leading local stucco and EIFS contractor. Robey proudly services communities in and around Baltimore, Northern VA, Washington DC, and south central PA. Give us a call today at 410-751-7788 and let our experienced professionals answer your stucco and EIFS questions.