Conventional stucco and synthetic stucco are common wall cladding finishes in Florida. Both can be installed over concrete block or over wood sheathing. They can also be installed over ICF (foam) forms.
Both products provide a visually appealing wall finish. Stucco has been in use for hundreds of years. Synthetic stucco or EIFS, was developed in Europe following WWII as an inexpensive means to repair solid masonry walls. EIFS was first introduced to the USA in the 1960’s. In the 1960’s, it was used over wood sheathing primarily in new commercial building and residential builders began using it in the late 1970’s as a low cost wall cladding system.
Both conventional stucco and EIFS are “water barriers” although they were perceived to be “water repellant”. Both systems will absorb moisture and that moisture must have a means to drain behind the finish.
The majority of problems associated with stucco products related to moisture penetration which affected the wood wall sheathing, window frames/casings, sole plate or stud framing of the home, and the growth of mold in the wall cavities. As many of these problems took years to notice, claims and class action lawsuits began to surface in the late 1980’s and some continue today.
The manufacturers of these products developed installation guidelines and accessory products to prevent water damage. If used properly, both systems provide an appealing and functional wall cladding system. Unfortunately, we still find many installation issues due to untrained installers, poor oversight by the builder and improper use of drainage accessories.
Typical problems we find are:
- Missing flashing or improperly sized flashing at roof to wall connections
- Improperly wrapped window openings
- Missing backer rod or missing caulking at door and window openings
- Missing moisture barrier (house wrap) or improperly installed moisture barrier on wood sheathing
- Missing drainage accessories
- Missing stucco back wrap
- Drainage screeds at windows are blocked with stucco
- Improperly sloped window sills
- Improper window bucks – gaps filled with stucco
- Moisture barrier not taped/sealed
- Missing rain diverters at roof
- Improper mix of stucco material
- Improper fasteners
- Improper depth of stucco coatings
- Paint applied prior to stucco being cured or too little paint applied
- Stucco rapidly hydrating in hot sun – cracking
- Stucco over wood sheathing below grade – in contact with soil and missing drainage plane
EIFS not adhered to foam
These three, classic, examples, illustrate moisture intrusion and delamination of the wall cladding.
The homeowner had no clue that the $1 million dollar home was defective.
Stucco/EIFS inspections for residential and commercial facilities
We offer stucco/EIFS inspections for residential and commercial facilities – anywhere. We have three consulting packages available:
Level 1: Visual inspection of new construction to verify compliance to installation guidelines.
Level 2: Intrusive inspection to document installation methods, and type of system installed. A detailed report of deficiencies and suggested corrective procedures is provided.
Level 3: We will provide repair specifications, solicit bids, assist with contractor selection and provide construction oversight of repairs.
We are also available for expert testimony and consultation for claims litigation.
If you are purchasing a building or residence with any type of stucco wall cladding, we strongly encourage you to contact us. Do not rely upon a minimally qualified inspector or a data jockey report to alert you to costly stucco issues.