EIFS, Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems, are appropriate for nearly any location if the proper drainage measures are designed and executed. In low-drying or high-humidity locations, ones with substantial annual rainfall, moisture must be prevented from entering at joint locations. And water should also be allowed to drain via an designed cavity that prevents penetration into the interior gypsum and other insulating materials.
By limiting temperature transfer from the outside, EIFS construction layers are engineered to act as a blanket to lower energy costs substantially. However, when that blanket becomes wet and will not dry in a short ime, problems begin to arise. The issues can be in the form of mold development and deterioration of the material components.
Drainage and Seals
Two separate measures are employed to combat moisture and reduce the potential for water and high humidity damage to EIFS layers. These measures should be properly executed during the initial construction or remodel.
Drainage Plane- Creating a drainage cavity or gap between the outer EIFS surface and the interior glass-matted gypsum allows moisture that penetrates through the stucco-like surface to drain downward and out through the base of the wall. This drainable EIFS assembly process eliminates most of the moisture retention problems that plagued earlier versions of EIFS.
Sealant Joints- The other major culprit to accumulating moisture in EIFS construction are the joints that surround windows, balconies, and doors. Also, rain may flow through the roof joints into the EIFS lamina if these are not properly sealed. In areas where drying periods are longer or rain is less frequent, the materials my dry out within a reasonable time. But in rainy areas, these potential problem spots can allow moisture to enter without proper sealing.
To ensure a perfect sealing process in every potential trouble spot, Building Science recommends that the sealant must:
- Adhere well to the lamina
- Be ultraviolet light resistant
- Not be stronger than the base coat bond strength
- Be affordable
If joint sealants are applied perfectly, the building owner should not experience problems. Regular inspection to determine whether the sealants are holding should identify problems that may be developing.
Sealants can be reapplied when necessary to prevent further damage.
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EIFS installation must be performed perfectly to be fully effective. In high precipitation and excessive humidity, moisture can develop anywhere.
If you have questions regarding the practicality and economy of EIFS in future construction and remodeling, be sure to seek expert advice. The cladding professionals at ProCoat Systems are available to discuss the technical aspects of EIFS construction for your building.
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