Restoring EIFS and Stucco Walls

Floods in Houston. Wind damage in Florida. Fires in California. Thinking of recent natural disasters, our minds turn inevitably to the challenges of recovery, and recovery in many communities now means repair and restoration.

In making the assessment to clarify which restoration level applies to your situation, it’s best to consult an expert to advise you on remediation and repair.

In making the assessment to clarify which restoration level applies to your situation, it’s best to consult an expert to advise you on remediation and repair.

There are many damaged structures built once upon a time with exterior walls constructed from Exterior Insulation Finish Systems (EIFS, meaning continuous insulation), stucco or concrete/masonry that now need to be evaluated and fixed—either as repair jobs or candidates for a complete rebuild.

Whether it’s a relatively simple matter of purging dirt and mildew or the more complex removal and replacement of exterior cladding, there are four levels of restoration that are useful to keep in mind as you analyze the scope of the recovery work and what’s required to help restore the value of a given property. This methodology equally applies in cases of planned maintenance or predictable exterior renovation. In either case, restoring a building’s facade requires careful deliberation.

For EIFS, stucco and concrete masonry exteriors structures, the four levels range from straightforward to more complex—all designed to extend a building’s life, improve its performance and enhance its curb appeal. These levels are:

  • 1) Clean and recoat.
  • 2) Repair and finish.
  • 3) Overclad.
  • 4) Remove and reclad.

Level One is a surface-level solution to remove dirt, stains, mold or mildew while refreshing the color of the facade. This involves using proper cleaning procedures with a water cleaning solution and a pressure washer (1200 psi or less) to remove most of the dirt and surface contaminants without damaging the existing surface. The goal is to get an entirely clean surface free of surface contaminants that is ready for recoating.

Level Two involves inspecting, repatching and repairing a damaged surface to keep minor impact punctures or abrasions from becoming a major problem. It could be impact damage to EIFS, water penetration or surface integrity issues, such as deteriorated stucco at a horizontal reglet interface. A Level Two project is designed to repair the barrier system and restore the integrity of the wall’s water-shedding capabilities. It could be as straightforward as applying basecoat, mesh and finish as a repair solution.

There are four levels of restoration that are useful to keep in mind as you analyze what’s required to help restore the value of a given property.

There are four levels of restoration that are useful to keep in mind as you analyze what’s required to help restore the value of a given property.

Level Three restoration involves refacing the wall when the cladding is no longer functioning to keep water out of the building. In an undamaged structure, Level Three would also be called for when there is a premium on controlling thermal variations, enhancing energy efficiency or improving aesthetics. In the case of damage from natural causes, a Level Three restoration is most often required to reclad the wall to keep moisture out. The overclad material can be EIFS, stucco, masonry, block or stone substrates.

Level Four is the most advanced of the restoration steps, when damage to the walls is more extreme and calls for removing and replacing the exterior cladding. One likely scenario is that water entered the walls and caused enough moisture damage to dictate restoring all the wall elements. Level Four is the step that calls for a pause to ensure that the newly restored wall will incorporate the five key elements that comprise “the perfect wall”—namely vapor retarder, air barrier, water penetration barrier, thermal barrier and a water-shedding surface to divert any accumulated water.

In making the assessment to clarify which restoration level applies to your situation, it’s best to consult an expert to advise you on remediation and repair. A manufacturer of exterior wall systems can provide expertise and guidance on transforming your problem into a cost-effective solution. The result should be a project that improves the life and value of your structure to help you on the way to recovery.

PHOTOS: Sto Corp.

About the Author

Brock Osborn
Brock Osborn is the strategic accounts manager for Sto Corp. He is responsible for serving as a resource to national engineering firms for the purpose of maintaining and restoring existing buildings. Prior to this position, Osborn was the new business development manager, restoration, and began his career with Sto as a sales representative, then went on to serve as the Southeast area manager and Northeast area manager.

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