Traditional Stucco vs. EIFS Exteriors

If you’re interested in a stucco exterior for your home, you may have come across 2 different options. There’s traditional stucco and there’s EIFS (Exterior Insulation and Finish System).

Both provide the same, great stucco appearance. They’re also both fire-resistant, making them excellent exterior options for protecting your home. But, the materials they’re made of and their installation processes are different.

So, should you choose one over the other? That depends on what you’re looking for in a home exterior.

This article will cover the major differences between traditional stucco and EIFS. We’ll also go over some of the pros and cons of each option so you can make an informed decision.

Traditional Stucco

Traditional stucco, or hard coat stucco, is one of the oldest building materials. It’s been in use for thousands of years. But, today’s stucco uses a mixture of new and improved materials as ingredients.

The main ingredients of traditional stucco are portland cement, lime, and water. Chopped fiberglass and plasticizers are also added to increase both insulation and flexibility.

Your stucco contractors will apply at least 3 layers of this mixture to the exterior of your home. First is the scratch coat, then the brown coat, and finally the finish coat.

Modern installations also use water-resistive barriers, Drain Screeds, and other moisture protection systems. To learn more about the stucco installation process, check out our article on the topic.

Hydes Maryland Stucco Remediation 3

Stucco Installation Process

Learn more about the stucco installation process so you know what to expect.

Traditional stucco is more resistant to moisture than EIFS. It’s also cheaper and takes less time to install. And, it’s easier to fix minor damage to traditional stucco.

But, because it’s made out of cement, traditional stucco is much heavier than EIFS. This weight may cause the stucco to develop hairline cracks as it settles. While some minor cracking isn’t a major concern, larger cracks can allow moisture in.

Exterior Insulation and Finish System

EIFS is a synthetic stucco made of polystyrene foam, fiberglass mesh, and a finish coat. The polystyrene base makes EIFS lighter-weight than the cement of traditional stucco.

The addition of fiberglass mesh gives EIFS a higher R-value than traditional stucco. But, modern stucco mixes also include fiberglass, reducing the difference between the two.

These systems are also less prone to cracking because of the materials used. The lighter weight plus more flexible materials mean cracks shouldn’t develop.

It’s not all pros, though. EIFS is more difficult to install, leading to longer installation timeframes. This also means they’re more difficult to fix when damaged. And, these systems are more expensive than traditional stucco.

Is Traditional Stucco Right for You?

New traditional stucco

In variable climates, such as Pennsylvania’s, both traditional stucco and EIFS can work. But, in our experience, traditional stucco works better within these conditions.

Pennsylvania’s hot in the summer, cold in the winter, and sees a fair amount of rain. The increased durability of traditional stucco stands up against the environment better.

When installed by a team of professionals, stucco is an excellent exterior option. It’s durable, long-lasting, and easy to take care of. And the inclusion of a Drain Screed system helps to solve the potential moisture issue.

In our 20+ years of remediating stucco, we’ve seen it all. And one of the most common causes of stucco failure we’ve found is improper installation. That’s why hiring experienced contractors is so important.

Southeastern Pennsylvania’s Stucco Experts

Traditional stucco and EIFS are both stuccos, but that’s where the similarities end. They’re made out of different materials. They have different installation processes. And they excel in different areas.

While EIFS is lighter weight and more flexible, it’s also more expensive and harder to install. Traditional stucco, meanwhile, is cheaper and can last longer with proper maintenance.

If you’re considering a stucco exterior for your home, contact Friel Plastering today. We have the skills, knowledge, and experience to install traditional stucco right. Trust our team with your next home renovation.