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The benefits of EIFS extend beyond energy efficiency and design flexibility. The systems also are easy to maintain. EIFS rarely need painting. Most are specially formulated with a 100-percent-acrylic binder, which helps EIFS resist fading, chalking and yellowing. As a result, most systems tend to maintain their original appearance over time. EIFS also tend to resist dirt, mildew and mold, which further contribute to keeping building exteriors looking clean and freshly painted.
As with all claddings, some regular maintenance is needed with EIFS, primarily cleaning, surface crack repair and sealant maintenance.
"Periodically, EIFS finishes may need to be cleaned to remove dirt, algae or mildew that can accumulate on the surface," says David Boivin, president and CEO of Sto Corp. and president of EIMA. "A good cleaning often can restore the appearance of EIFS."
Cleaning also is necessary before recoating or resurfacing EIFS to ensure good adhesion of top coats that may be applied to the EIFS finish. In many cases, the soiled surface can be cleaned with low-pressure cool water, mild cleaning detergents and a soft bristle brush.
EIFS are designed to be highly flexible, which makes them exceptionally resistant to the cracking problems that are all too common with stucco, concrete and brick exteriors. EIFS, however, can develop small surface cracks. Surface cracks are defined as such small surface defects as chips, spalls or cracks that do not penetrate beyond the EIFS base coat and in which the EIFS reinforcing mesh is not severed. Surface cracks always should be repaired before any refreshing of the EIFS coating takes place.
Inspecting and maintaining flashing and sealing is another important activity to ensure the building envelope remains watertight. Damaged or missing flashing should be repaired or replaced immediately. Cracked or deteriorated sealants also should be repaired or replaced because the effects of aging, or sometimes design or installation deficiencies, can cause premature failure.
Failure to correct damage to an EIFS wall could lead to moisture intrusion, which is an enemy for any wall assembly, Boivin says.
"EIFS are low-maintenance cladding, but regular inspection and attention to maintenance needs will help assure their performance and enhance the satisfaction of owners and users year after year," Boivin says. "Routine upkeep allows facility professionals to reduce overall continuous costs of building maintenance and keep walls performing at peak efficiency."
The EIFS Industry Members Association (EIMA), founded in 1981, is a national non-profit technical trade association comprised of leading manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and applicators involved in the exterior insulation and finish systems (EIFS) industry.
EIMA promotes the advancement and growth of the EIFS industry through:
In March 2009, EIMA entered into an alliance with the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry (AWCI), a trade group representing more than 2,200 contractors, suppliers, dealers and manufacturers in the wall and ceiling industry to further advance the EIFS industry. AWCI also furnishes administrative services to EIMA through the alliance.
The two associations have, to a degree, an overlap in membership and bring several combined strengths to the table. In July 2009, EIMA relocated its headquarters to Falls Church, Va., to share space with AWCI and to be closer to other client groups and decision makers in the Washington, D.C., area.
EIMA and its members assisted in the development of, and continue to support strongly, AWCI's "EIFS — Doing it Right" educational program.
EIMA's annual meeting, which will take place April 21-22 in Denver, is co-located with the AWCI convention.
Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems: Components and Benefits
EIFS' Aesthetic and Energy Efficiency Advantages