EIFS vs Stucco: The Better Building Material

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Everyone wants to use quality products. It’s the same thing when we’re buying coating for our wall surface. EIFS and Stucco are two very well-known building materials. But, people are usually confused between the two. 

Which one’s the better material: EIFS vs stucco?

EIFS is lightweight and flexible which is very less likely to crack. But, it’s very expensive. Stucco on the other hand is very strong and durable but cracks easily. Repairs are easy as it’s in the affordable price range. 

Well, this is just a small description for you to go on with. We’ve provided more details about them in the article. 

Interested in knowing about the detailed comparisons? Just read the article!

EIFS vs Stucco: Notable Differences

Before we get into the details of the differences, let’s check out the key differences first. These differences will help you get a better understanding at a glance. 

Let’s get to it then:

EIFSStucco
SofterVery Hard
Slightly less durable Very durable
Expensive Affordable 
Water will get stuck insidePorous 
Wide range of designs Limited designs 
Less likely to crack More likely crack 
Very light in weight Extremely heavy comparatively 
Slightly difficult to repair Easy to repair 

EIFS vs Stucco: Detailed Differences

The detailed differences will include materials, breathability, and application. We’ll break down every little difference for you. 

Now, without any further ado, let’s get right into it-

Materials

Traditional Stucco is basically a layer of rock. So, when you’re applying stucco to your home, you’re covering your home with rock. They’re equally strong and durable at the same time. 

But the cement stucco is different. It’s made of sand, Portland cement, lime, and water. It’s basically fine-grained concrete. When you’re using that on your home, you’ll be using waterproof barriers as well. 

Besides waterproof barriers, you’ll be using metal flashings and galvanized wire mesh. Stucco is meant to work as a primary barrier. But it works as a secondary barrier when it comes in contact with water. It lets the water go through the pores of the wall and lets it out. 

EIFS on the other hand uses multiple layers of what people like to call ‘synthetic’ stucco. They’re made of polystyrene insulation board which is secured using adhesives to the outside walls. 

If you’re going to use adhesives, then here’s a list of some of the best-

Product 1
Product 2

This insulation board is then reinforced using acrylic plasters and fiberglass mesh. They tend to be softer than traditional stucco but they’re crack resistant. 

Although traditional stucco is more durable, cracks will appear easily. As for EIFS, it won’t be as long-lasting as stucco, but it’ll always be pristine. 

The end result is, it’s a tie between EIFS and Stucco in this section.

Breathability

Breathability for walls means a wall’s ability to let water in and out. The reason this is necessary is that all walls go damp at one point. If the walls are permeable, the water that has already got in can get out. 

Once there’s moisture behind the EIFS coating, water doesn’t pass through. But traditional stucco is not like that. Once rainwater gets inside the stucco coating, it’ll get out eventually.

We’ve already explained before how stucco lets water pass through the pores of the coating. So, traditional stucco is the winner here.

Application

EIFS has a high risk of error when you apply it. The application process is also very time-consuming and complicated. So, you’ll definitely need a professional for this. 

But, without an experienced team, you might face problems like low water resistance. Knowing how to fix water-damaged walls will save you a lot of time. 

EIFS has a primary base coat where a finish coating is applied on an EPS board. That board is directly connected to the sheathing with the help of fasteners or adhesives.

Stucco is first applied on wire mesh. They’re installed using standoffs which keeps a small amount of space for water to go through. This is why they have a semipermeable coating. There’s no application of styrofoam board or EPS here.

EIFS has a more complicated application process. You’ll also have to spend a long time behind it. As a result, Stucco takes the lead in this section.

Before beginning the application process, make sure you know how thick the walls should be.

Durability

EIFS has much higher insulation than Stucco. It’s also more flexible and has a much lesser chance of cracking. Your walls will most likely not crack until it starts giving out. 

The layer of fiberglass provides strong durability. Though it’s not as strong as traditional stucco. It’s also much lighter than traditional stucco. It’s about almost ⅕ of what traditional stucco would weigh for the same amount. 

Stucco is very heavy compared to EIFS. One square foot of stucco weighs 10 pounds. You’ll have to repair the whole thing if it gets damaged. And it gets damaged like cracks and water damage pretty easily. 

If water gets in the system, cracks appear and the wall starts to peel off. The worst that can happen is, your wall will get structural damages. In extreme weather, stucco is prone to buckling. 

EIFS also has a pretty high R-value which ranges from 4 to 5.6. Also, there’s a wide variety of designs that you can do with this.

Cost & Maintenance

Traditional stucco is very beautiful when you use it as a siding. It’s very cheap compared to EIFS. You’ll find applying EIFS a very expensive job. You’ll also face difficulties customizing it.

Stucco doesn’t take much time to cure. The simple system of application makes it easy to add decorative materials later. 

Another small is mold. Mold can grow on stucco quite easily. It looks just like mold on any other surface. But, eliminating mold on stucco can seem like a slightly different process. 

If you live someplace where changes in seasons happen quickly, you might require high maintenance. 

Final Verdict

Choosing between traditional stucco and EIFS is your personal choice. All the facts are right in front of your eyes. Choose whichever you think is the right one for you. Because for us, it’s a tie. Both of these building materials are good in their own ways.

If you want to choose EIFS, you’ll get a wide variety of choices. Your walls most probably won’t last forever. But, these designs will cost you a lot.

If you choose traditional stucco, you’ll get a durable wall at a very affordable price. Stucco is the right choice if you ever plan to build up or out. The drawback is you’ll have to have your walls get cracks easily.

FAQs

Question: Do people still use EIFS?

Answer: Yes, people still use EIFS. Its use suddenly stopped for a while in 1991 though. But then people started using it again over time. The main reason for its comeback is the range of designs you can get with EIFS.

Question: How long will EIFS last?

Answer: It’s currently unclear how long they can last. But, there are known structures that are 50-60 years old. In the end, it still depends on the maintenance.

Question: Why do most builders prefer stucco?

Answer: Stucco can provide a very hard exterior. Besides, it can be textured and manipulated as per the owner’s preference. Stucco provides a moisture barrier, air barrier, and insulation as well.

Conclusion

Well, this is all that we have on EIFS vs stucco. They both have their advantages and disadvantages. But you need to align that with your needs to choose one.

Just choose whichever feels right for you.

Good Luck!

Melissa Hawkins