Stucco and EIFS Exterior Siding
A long lasting low maintenance siding but it's not intended for overly wet climates
Stucco and EIFS Siding for Your Home
Stucco siding is made using a cement mixture combined with water and sand or lime. Variations of this type of siding or building material have been used from the time of the Greek and Roman empires with great success. Best suited for dry warm climates stucco offers consumers long life and low maintenance when it has been installed correctly.
Stucco is typically installed over a wire mesh (similar to chicken wire) covered wood frame. Stucco can be created with a variety of textures most commonly smooth, raked and swirled. Naturally fire resistant it also is a good insulator helping maintain comfortable temperatures inside regardless of outside conditions.
Stucco is not a good mix with overly wet climates. If water gets through a joint there is not a good mechanism in place to get the moisture out which could result in rotting of the wood frame behind the stucco. One type of synthetic stucco called EIFS or Exterior Insulation and Finish System has become somewhat infamous for moisture problems in the past. EIFS is a stucco product applied over the top of polystyrene foam board. The intention was to lower the cost of stucco while making the installation process easier however there has been more than coincidental trouble and it is important to have any home with EIFS inspected by a professional before you purchase it. In order to determine if your home (or a home you might purchase) has EIFS simply push firmly on the outside wall. If the wall "gives" slightly it is EIFS as stucco is very firm. Additionally, you can tap on the stucco surface, if it sounds solid it is a traditional stucco product, if it sounds hollow it is most likely EIFS.
Stucco shows up as a medium cost material on the siding costs scale being less expensive than brick or stone but more expensive than most wood siding.
Longevity: Depends upon the climate but can last 50-75 years or more
Maintenance: Hose washing unless major cracks develop
Cost: Above average
*Image from BPB makers of fine accoustical ceiling, gypsum board, and sheathing.
The SMA (Stucco Manufacturers Association) actively promotes the advantage of stucco products.
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