Building Envelope Investigation
To ensure the Building Envelope (including Roof, Masonry, Curtain Wall, Precast Concrete, Glazing Panels,Stucco,
Metal Cladding, EIFS, Parking Garages, Balcony, Air/Vapour/Thermal Barriers and Water Proofing & Sealants) is
Intact, we offer
- Building Envelope Design,
- Building Envelope Specifications,
- Building Envelope Design Reviews,
- Building Envelope Analysis, including Thermal Infra-Red Scanning
- Building Envelope Construction & Compliance Investigations,
- Building Envelope Investigation, Repairs and Warranty reviews
- Building Envelope Repair / Retrofit Specification and Repair Review,
- Evaluation of Building Envelope Materials and Components for Compliance and Durability..
- Design, Specifications, Design Reviews, Investigations for Rehabilitation / Restoration of Building Envelope
Our Building Envelope Investigation Experts have thorough understanding of Building Science including the
- materials physical and chemical properties,
- mechanisms of deterioration,
- behaviour of wood, concrete, metals, plastics, gypsum and other materials as they are used in building
envelope construction including moisture transport, moisture retention or storage characteristics, and
relative movement, freeze-thaw characteristics,
- determination/measurement of moisture content levels of materials used in building envelope construction,
- performance thresholds and relationships between materials and environments: corrosion rates, fungal
germination and growth thresholds, decay of wood and prevention of these mechanisms of deterioration;
- defining boundary conditions: interior, exterior climate and microclimate,
- impact of location, weather, and building shape on exposure to wetting and building envelope design;
- moisture physics: storage and transport processes by diffusion, convection, capillary action, gravity, wind
pressure, sorption relationships and osmosis,
- use of heat, air and moisture flow calculations, and simulation tools for building envelope design and
- heat transfer: conduction, convection, radiation, and secondary modes due to latent phase changes,
- energy usage calculations and analysis, simulation tools,
- mass transport and condensation: air, water vapour and pollutants,
- consideration of wetting, drying, storage and material properties to prevent problematic accumulation of
moisture within the building envelope,
- accommodation of thermal and moisture movements, and
- accommodation of structural loads;
Components, Assemblies and Other Building Systems:
- interdependence of elements of the building envelope with other building systems and functional
requirements: including but not limited to environmental control systems (i.e. lighting, heating, cooling and
ventilation system), plumbing, structure, and fire safety,
- integration of theoretical and technical knowledge regarding materials to apply to elements that are used as
part of the building envelope, and
- assessment of the appropriateness of heat, air and moisture control functions of the elements that comprise
the building envelope.
Construction Field Review
Our Building Envelope Experts have extensive experience in reviewing the construction of building envelope
elements in the field for the purpose of confirming substantial compliance with the construction documents and
the building code. Our Building Envelope Experts possess the ability to identify deviations from the design intent,
as well as variations in site conditions from those planned or expected. To assist in determining whether the
construction of the building envelope is in substantial compliance with the construction documents, our building
envelope experts possess the ability to review test results, manufacturers’ product information, shop drawings,
prototypes, and samples. Our Building Envelope Experts are very knowledgeable of contract administration
responsibilities for new construction projects, as well as for building envelope rehabilitation and renewal
construction projects where we provide a broader scope of services, such as acting as payment certifier.
Our construction phase field review includes, but not necessarily be limited to the following, and may vary
depending upon the complexity of the construction of the building envelope and the experience of the contractor:
- Attend construction meetings, as required.
- Assist in confirming, reporting and scheduling procedures for testing and field reviews.
- Assist in confirming that the qualifications of fabricators meet the specifications.
- Assist in review of submittals for general compliance with the construction documents.
- Assist with the review of building envelope-related shop drawings and other submittals for general
conformance with the construction documents and the intent of the design.
- Visit the site at sufficient frequency to ascertain whether the work substantially complies in all material
respects with the construction documents and applicable portions of the Ontario Building Code. The review
includes all building envelope assemblies and a substantial number of the details – rather than just a
representative sampling – for those building envelope elements reviewed or designed by us in earlier
- Prepare field review reports outlining observations and discrepancies in the work
- Discrepancies noted during field reviews tracked, and the resolution of these discrepancies noted such that
a list of unresolved discrepancies can be provided to the project team at any stage of the project. We
attempt to confirm that discrepancies have been resolved in a satisfactory manner. This confirmation is
preferably achieved through direct observation but, when this is not possible, other members of the design
and construction team can be relied upon to confirm resolution.
- Review reports provided by building envelope material and component manufacturers, as well as reports
prepared by other Professionals who are reviewing building envelope elements.
- Assist in arranging for and observing the mock-up and/or testing of key building envelope elements such as
wall assemblies or window installations, where required.
- Review the continuity of thermal insulation, moisture, air and vapour barriers.
- Review drainage paths.
- Review the acceptability of the moisture content of wood products.
- Confirm that building envelope components and materials used are those specified in the construction
documents or are acceptable alternatives.
- Upon completion of construction, complete, sign and seal applicable schedules or supporting schedules,
and submit to the appropriate party.
Our Building Envelope Experts have knowledge and extensive experience in the application of building science
principles as they relate to the investigation of performance of the building envelope. This competency includes
the ability to apply informed, professional judgment calls where risk assessment is concerned, including:
- the identification of risks and benefits of alternatives;
- the determination of consequences of selection of alternatives, decisions and actions;
- the relative costs of various acceptable alternatives; and
- the application and implication of local construction practices.
A building envelope is an encapsulating physical separation between the conditioned and unconditioned
environment of a building including the resistance to air, water, moisture, heat, light, and noise transfer. The
physical components of the building envelope include the foundation, roof, walls, doors, windows, ceiling, and
their related barriers and insulation. Building envelopes will require ongoing investigation and maintenance to
perform their function and be serviceable for the long term.
The performance of the building envelope is impacted by a number of sub‐systems, such as heating, cooling and
ventilating equipment, plumbing and electrical systems. The interaction of the sub‐systems with the components
of the building envelope, as well as certain activities of the occupants, can affect the performance of the building
Control of air flow is important to ensure indoor air quality, control energy consumption, avoid condensation (and
thus help ensure durability), and to provide comfort. Control of air movement includes air barrier or through
components of the building envelope (interstitial) itself, as well as into and out of the interior space, which can
affect building insulation performance greatly. The control of windwashing (cold air passing through insulation)
and convective loops which are air movements within a wall or ceiling that may result in about 20% of the heat loss
alone. Minimizing air leakage in a building envelope results in annual energy savings of up to 40%.
The dimensions, performance and compatibility of materials, fabrication process and details, connections and
interactions are the main factors that determine the effectiveness and durability of the building envelope.
Common measures of the effectiveness of a building envelope include physical protection from weather and
climate (comfort), indoor air quality (hygiene and public health), durability and energy efficiency. In order to
achieve these objectives, building envelope must include a solid structure, a drainage plane, an air barrier, a
thermal barrier, and may include a vapor barrier. Moisture control (e.g. damp proofing) is also very essential.
In order for a building envelope system to perform effectively, building envelope must be able to manage both
interior and exterior moisture sources. Control of rain is most fundamental, and there are numerous strategies to
this end, namely, perfect barriers, drained screens, and mass / storage systems. The entire roof from the surface
of the shingles to the interior paint finish on the ceiling comprises the building envelope. The thermal envelope,
or heat flow control layer, is part of a building envelope like an insulated attic which is the primary thermal control
layer between the interior and the exterior. One of the main purposes of a roof is to resist water. Two broad
categories of roofs are flat and pitched. Flat roofs are built to resist standing water. Pitched roofs are designed to
shed water but not resist standing water which can occur during wind-driven rain or ice damming. Typically
pitched roofs are covered with an underlayment material beneath the roof covering material as a second line of
defense. Domestic roof construction may also be ventilated to help remove moisture from leakage and
Generally presence of water on the exterior of the building; an opening for the water to move through, and a
driving force (such as wind or gravity) are needed for water to penetrate into a building. Wind will create a
pressure difference between indoors and outdoors. In both face seal and rainscreen systems, this pressure
change occurs primarily at the most airtight element in the wall construction. This air‐tight material is referred to
as the air‐barrier. Face seal refers to a strategy for rain penetration control that relies solely on the elimination of
holes in the exposed exterior face of the assembly. Face sealed walls rely on creating a completely impervious
barrier to water at the outer face of the wall. This is also the air barrier, thus it is at the surface at which the
pressure drop occurs. This surface is frequently wetted, and any imperfections in the face seal will certainly lead
to air movement through the holes, which in turn will create the driving force required to bring the water into the
wall assembly, and trap it there. The water remains in the wall, or dries slowly, causing deterioration of wood
Walls do not get as severe water exposure as roofs but still leak water. Types of wall systems with regard to water
penetration are barrier, drainage and surface-sealed walls. Barrier walls are designed to allow water to be
absorbed but not penetrate the wall, and include concrete and some masonry walls. Drainage walls allow water
that leaks into the wall to drain out such as cavity walls. Drainage walls may also be ventilated to aid drying such as
rainscreen and pressure equalization wall systems. Sealed-surface walls do not allow any water penetration at the
exterior surface of the siding material. Generally most materials will not remain sealed over the long term and this
system is very limited, but ordinary residential construction often treats walls as sealed-surface systems relying on
the siding and an underlayment layer sometimes called housewrap.
Moisture can enter basements through the walls or floor. Basement waterproofing and drainage keep the walls dry
and a moisture barrier is needed under the floor.
The building envelope should keep out:
• temperature extremes
• moisture, as vapour or liquid
Additionally, to maintain durability, the building envelope should not permit weather elements to be trapped inside
the walls. This may cause wall components to deteriorate, and continue to decay. In the early stages, it can usually
be remedied relatively inexpensively. As time progresses costs increase exponentially.
The building envelope requires regular investigation and maintenance. Some maintenance guides suggest the
exterior of the building does not need much attention in the early years. The failure of building envelopes suggest
that it is wise to have a building envelope investigation program in place that starts in the first year of occupancy
in a building and continues annually thereafter. If failure of the building envelope can be detected early, before
obvious damage is caused, the failing building envelope can be remedied at much less expense.
A building envelope problem likely exists if there is:
• Stained of the interior wall surfaces
• Water-damaged insulation above the ceiling tiles
• Stained ceiling finishes
• Moisture-damaged window soffits, jambs, and sills
• Stained floor finishes, including rust stains from excessively wet steel-stud baseplates
• Peeling paint / wallpaper
• Cracking of interior finishes
• Stains/dirt in operable window tracks
• Mould or fungi formation
• Wood rot
• Water flowing down the sides of the building instead of running off from the eaves and drainpipes
• Wind blowing through the walls
• Cracked or missing sealants (caulking)
• Water stains on inside the foundation
• Gaps that allow the weather to get through the walls
• Windows that are wet on the inside
These problems may not all be related to a building envelope failure. Some may be localized maintenance items
that can be fixed relatively inexpensively.
If the condominium corporation does not have a schedule for maintenance and investigation of the building
• Communicate the need for building envelope investigattion in writing to the condominium board of directors.
• Attend the Annual General Meeting (AGM) and explain why a building envelope investigation and maintenance
program is important. If possible give examples of problems encountered by other condominium complexes that
were aggravated by the lack of a building envelope investigation and maintenance program.
• Put forth in a motion to the AGM the need for a building envelope investigation and maintenance program and
that it is recorded in the minutes of the meeting.
Rainscreen assembly is a construction strategy for rain penetration control that relies on the deflection of the
majority of water at the cladding but also incorporates a cavity which provides a drainage path for water that
penetrates past the cladding. Rainscreen technology recognizes that some incidental water may penetrate the
exterior cladding, but allows this water to drain through the rainscreen cavity. Rainscreen technology can come in
many different designs, and has been evolving since it’s earliest use in the late 1940s. The cladding is not air
tight, and in fact, deliberate openings are left to facilitate drainage and drying. The pressure drop therefore occurs
primarily at the sheathing paper. By moving the pressure drop away from the cladding, the driving force is
removed from the cladding, which greatly reduces the potential for water to move past it. The small amount of
water that does pass through the cladding drains through the cavity, leaving the interior of the wall assembly dry.
Many moisture troubled building envelopes must still be rehabilitated. The fact that some of these moisture
troubled building envelopes have been previously repaired and now require a second more extensive
rehabilitation effort underscores the need for guidance with respect to effective repair and rehabilitation
measures. The process of rehabilitating a wood frame building has many steps, and decisions must be made at
each stage. The fact that the building is usually occupied during the rehabilitation of building envelope makes the
process more complicated than a new construction project.
Moisture and air infiltration cause dramatic energy losses and premature building envelope failures resulting in
unnecessary high maintenance expenses.
Adherence to building code does not guarantee a high-performing building envelope. Many buildings constructed
only to Ontario Building Code exhibit a lack of energy efficiency and durability, and experience significant building
envelope performance problems associated with air and moisture leakage.
Our detailed building envelope investigation report includes
- building’s exterior and interior environmental conditions and identification of areas of high humidity or
unusual indirect conditions
- extent and severity of damage or symptoms of moisture problems
- causes of moisture related problems
- list each of the building envelope failures and the mechanisms involved
- appropriate conceptual rehabilitation work strategies
- approximate construction cost estimates and implementation plans
Our Building Envelope Experts have the “BSSO” - Building Science Specialist of Ontario designation - Elite group
of building science professionals dedicated to the implementation and effective use of Building Science
Principles in the Construction Industry of Ontario.
Our well experienced building science experts offer investigation of building envelopes problems and building
envelope failures and provide cost effective solutions for building envelope problems.
We also provide strategies and procedures for cost-effective rehabilitation of moisture troubled building
envelopes to increase service life of building envelope components including masonry, EIFS / stucco, glazing,
curtain walls and water proofing and to reduce maintenance and energy costs.
We investigate the condition of the building envelope and suggest remedies. Our building science experts use a
variety of techniques to investigate building envelopes:
• how the water is getting in
• why it is not draining
• what path it is taking once it is inside the walls, and
• how much damage has been done to the building.
Still have questions?
Call Us Anytime
416 332 1743 (24/7)
416 727 8336
Our goal is to not be the largest building envelope investigation firm, just the best !
BUILDING EXPERTS CANADA
Professional Engineers Ontario
Certificate of Authorization # 100205934
5215 Finch Avenue East Toronto ON M1S0C2
(416) 332 1743
We Know More Because We Investigate More
WE OFFER BUILDING ENVELOPE INVESTIGATION REPORTS CERTIFIED BY PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERS IN ONTARIO
- COMPREHENSIVE BUILDING ENVELOPE CONDITION INVESTIGATIONS
- THIRD PARTY BUILDING ENVELOPE WARRANTY INVESTIGATIONS
- BUILDING ENVELOPE LEAK INVESTIGATIONS & COST ESTIMATES FOR BUILDING ENVELOPE REPAIRS
- BUILDING ENVELOPE REHABILITATION / REPLACEMENT COST ESTIMATES, SPECIFICATIONS, BUILDING
ENVELOPE REHABILITATION /REPLACEMENT CONTRACT COMPLIANCE & QUALITY CONTROL FOR BUILDIG
OWNERS, CONDOMINIUM CORPORATIONS & PROPERTY MANAGERS.
- BUILDING ENVELOPE MAINTENANCE AND BUILDING ENVELOPE REPAIR REPORTS
- NON DESTRUCTIVE BUILDING ENVELOPE MOISTURE INVESTIGATIONS
Our licensed professional engineers and building envelope investigation specialists have been involved in building envelope
investigation, building envelope maintenance and building envelope rehabilitation / replacement for many years and helped
thousands of building owners and property managers effectively manage their building envelopes. Our licensed professional
engineers and building envelope investigation specialists are well experienced with all types of building envelope systems,
including masonry, EIFS / stucco, glazing, curtain walls and water proofing components. Also our licensed professional
engineers and building envelope investigation specialists develop and tender complete building envelope repair specifications,
and offer construction review services to ensure the highest quality standards.
Our experienced qualified & certified building envelope investigation experts provide detailed in-depth building envelope
investigation reports to Building Owners, Condominium Corporations and Property Managers in Greater Toronto Area including,
Ajax, Aurora, Barrie, Belleville, Bolton, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Clarington, Cobourg, Etobicoke, Georgetown, Guelph,
Hamilton, Maple, Markham, Milton, Mississauga, Newmarket, North York, Oakville, Oshawa, Peterborough, Pickering, Richmond
Hill, Scarborough, Stouffville, Toronto, Vaughan, Uxbridge, Whitby and Woodbridge. Our certified building envelope
investigation experts offer recommendations based on the current condition of the building envelope and building envelope
components and remaining life expectancy of the building envelope components.
Since our expert building envelope investigation experts are not affiliated with any building envelope component manufacturers
or contractors, we provide trusted, unbiased and independent professional building envelope investigation report. .Whether it
be a new building envelope, a repair / rehabilitation project, or simply a matter of building envelope repairs, our professional
building envelope investigation experts can investigate potential problem areas and recommend proper solutions.
Our building envelope investigation includes:
- Investigation of current condition of the building envelope and its major components including the foundation, roof, wall,
doors, windows, ceiling, and their related barriers and insulation.
- Investigation of building envelope drainage.
- Estimated remaining useful life of the components of the building envelope
- Detailed list of building envelope deficiencies, including the building envelope components that require immediate repair
- Recommendations for required short term and long term building envelope repairs, rehabilitation or replacement.
- Cost estimate for significant items for budgeting purposes
- Narrative building envelope investigation report of current condition of the building envelope
In a triple net lease, the tenant pays the landlord rent, property taxes, fire insurance, and the tenant’s share of maintenance
expenses for the property. The cost for future property taxes and fire insurance can be reasonably estimated, But estimating
and budgeting for future building envelope costs can be difficult without a professional building envelope investigation.
We provide Expert Building Envelope Investigation certified by
Licensed Professional Engineers in Ontario with more than 25 years
of Building Envelope Investigation experience.
Our Building Envelope Investigation Reports are acceptable to any
building envelope material manufacturer for their warranty coverage.
Our Building Envelope Investigation Report includes cost effective
preventive Building Envelope maintenance recommendations to
assist building owners, condominium corporations and property
Whether you own your first commercial property or an experienced investor who owns several buildings, owning a commercial
property is a very important financial commitment. Since the repairs and/or replacement of building envelope on a commercial
building can be very costly, knowing the actual condition of the building envelope is very important. During our building
envelope investigation we use state of the art diagnostic tools and equipment for non- invasive analysis. Our expert building
envelope investigation report provides an overview of the condition of the building envelope and its components. Our building
envelope investigation experts are dedicated to help the owners of industrial, commercial, institutional and residential buildings
with their due diligence to make sound decisions. Our building envelope investigation experts provide important maintenance
advice and follow up support. We guarantee that our well experienced and qualified building envelope investigation experts will
give you their very best effort. Our professional building envelope investigation experts' mission is to look out for the best
interest of the owner by investigating every component of the building envelope as if we are the ones owning the building. Our
professional building envelope investigation experts’ commitment to our clients has allowed us to become a leader in the
building envelope investigation industry. Our certified building envelope investigation experts’ experience and reputation sets us
apart from all the rest!
Our well experienced, qualified & certified building envelope investigation experts have completed thousands of commercial,
industrial, institutional & residential building envelope inspections including condominium buildings, commercial strip plazas,
apartment buildings, industrial warehouses, manufacturing plants, and office buildings in Ontario including Ajax, Aurora, Barrie,
Belleville, Bolton, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Clarington, Cobourg, Etobicoke, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Maple,
Markham, Milton, Mississauga, Newmarket, North York, Oakville, Oshawa, Peterborough, Pickering, Richmond Hill, Scarborough,
Stouffville, Toronto, Vaughan, Uxbridge, Whitby and Woodbridge.
Our building envelope investigation experts perform a quality oriented building envelope investigation rather than a time and
cost limited one. Our building envelope investigation experts offer a thorough building envelope investigation and superior
quality narrative building envelope investigation report, not just a check list building envelope investigation report of items
investigated, at reasonable price!
Our building envelope investigation experts determine whether the building envelope work is being performed in a manner that,
when fully completed, will be in accordance with the building envelope contract documents.
Our certified building envelope investigation experts perform evaluations of existing building envelopes, plan building envelope
design solutions, prepare building envelope construction documents, perform forensic building envelope investigations, monitor
building envelope construction, and serve as expert witnesses. Our building envelope investigation experts possess a broad
base of practical knowledge about the building envelope industry at large.
Our building envelope investigation experts strive to ensure that the building envelope project is constructed according to the
contract documents. Our building envelope investigation experts work to ensure that proper application procedures are
followed, and that criteria for validation of manufacturer’s warranties are met. Our building envelope investigation experts have
training, experience and familiarity with the project requirements and products being installed. Our building envelope
investigation experts have thorough understanding of the manufacturer’s materials and installation requirements.
The most significant factor contributing to staggering amount of financial commitment towards building envelope
maintenance and replacement is the lack of a comprehensive pro-active approach towards extending the service
life of the existing building envelope components. Establish an investigation schedule to anticipate trouble areas
in the early stages. Minor problems can be identified and corrected before building envelope leaks cause serious
and costly damage to the building envelope system and interior of the building. A regular building envelope
investigation can greatly increase a building envelope’s lifespan and give building owners peace of mind. Building
envelope investigations along with preventive maintenance are ongoing tasks that should not be neglected by
the building owners. We recommend having your building envelope investigated regularly. Detecting a potential
building envelope leak and identifying the more-subtle problematic areas early enough can prolong the useful
building envelope components' life. The cost of a visual building envelope investigation is minimal when
compared to the amount of money required to replace an entire building envelope. Our professional building
envelope investigation experts identify immediate and long-term necessary building envelope repairs and
provide recommendations for remedial actions and the costs associated with.
Our building envelope investigation experts have the “BSSO” - Building Science Specialist of Ontario designation
- Elite group of building science professionals dedicated to the implementation and effective use of, Building
Science Principles in the Construction Industry of Ontario. Our building envelope investigation experts also have
the RRO (Registered Roof Observer) designation, which is given only to the best in the roof inspection business.
Our professional building envelope investigation experts are dedicated to continually upgrade their knowledge
and education by attending professional educational building science seminars, conferences and meetings, every
Our Building Envelope Investigation Specialists service Greater Toronto Area including Ajax, Aurora, Barrie,
Belleville, Bolton, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Clarington, Cobourg, Etobicoke, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton,
Maple, Markham, Milton, Mississauga, Newmarket, North York, Oakville, Oshawa, Peterborough, Pickering,
Richmond Hill, Scarborough, Stouffville, Toronto, Vaughan, Uxbridge, Whitby, Bowmanville and Woodbridge.
Visual Building Envelope Investigation by Professional Certified Building Envelope Investigation Expert
$375 plus $35 per 1,000 sq ft
Certification by Our Licensed Professional Engineer: Add $395
$275 plus $25 per 1,000 sq ft
Inventory of building envelope system components and photographic documentation
$275 plus $25 per 1,000 sq ft
Building envelope CAD drawing with details
$275 plus $25 per 1,000 sq ft
Detailed building envelope CAD drawing, details & deficiencies
$275 plus $35 per 1,000 sq ft
BUILDING EXPERTS CANADA LTD
5215 FINCH AVENUE EAST TORONTO ON M1S0C2
Professional Engineers Ontario - Certificate of Authorization # 100205934
416 332 1743 (24/7)
Text Message: 416 727 8336
Our Building Envelope Investigation Specialists service Greater Toronto Area including Ajax, Aurora, Barrie, Belleville, Bolton,
Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Clarington, Cobourg, Etobicoke, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Maple, Markham, Milton,
Mississauga, Newmarket, North York, Oakville, Oshawa, Peterborough, Pickering, Richmond Hill, Scarborough, Stouffville,
Toronto, Vaughan, Uxbridge, Whitby, Bowmanville and Woodbridge.
Exterior insulation and finishing system (EIFS) is a general class of non-load bearing building envelope cladding systems that
provides building envelope with an insulated, water-resistant, finished surface in an integrated composite material system. EIFS
was initially used almost exclusively on commercial, masonry buildings. In the late 1980s problems started developing due to
water leakage in EIFS-clad buildings. This created a controversy and numerous lawsuits. While not inherently more prone to
water penetration than other building envelope finishes, barrier-type EIFS systems (non-water-managed systems) do not allow
water that penetrates the building envelope to escape. The EIFS industry has consistently maintained that the EIFS itself was
not leaking, but rather poor craftsmanship and bad architectural detailing at the perimeter of the EIFS was what was causing the
problems. The building codes reacted by mandating EIFS with a drainage system on wood frame buildings and additional on-
site inspection. Some facility owners have found that EIFS systems that are installed at lower building levels are subject to
vandalism as the material is soft and can be chipped or carved resulting in significant damage. If these concerns exist specifying
heavier ounce reinforcing mesh can be the answer, these specifications can drastically increase the durability of the EIFS
system. EIFS installation was found to be a contributing factor in the multi-billion dollar problem known as the "Leaky condo
crisis" in southwestern British Columbia that emerged in the 1980s.
EIFS with Drainage, another EIFS system, is the predominate method of EIFS applied today. As the name implies, EIFS with
Drainage provides a way for moisture that may accumulate in the wall cavity to evacuate. Although often called "synthetic
stucco", EIFS is not stucco. Traditional stucco is a centuries-old material which consists of aggregate, a binder, and water, and
is a hard, dense, thick, non-insulating material. EIFS is a lightweight synthetic building envelope cladding that includes foam
plastic insulation and thin synthetic coatings. There are also specialty stucco that use synthetic materials but no insulation, and
these are also not EIFS. A common example is what is called one-coat stucco, which is a thick, synthetic stucco applied in a
single layer (traditional stucco is applied in 3 layers). EIFS are proprietary systems of a particular EIFS manufacturer and
consist of specific components. EIFS are not generic products made from common separate materials. To function properly,
EIFS needs to be architecturally designed and installed as a system. The materials and installation methods specified by
different EIFS manufacturers are not all compatible and should not be used interchangeably in new construction or repair work.
The technical definition of an EIFS does not include wall framing, sheathing, flashings, caulking, water barriers, windows, doors,
and other building envelope components. However, some architects have begun specifying flashings, sealants, and wiring
fasteners as being a part of the EIFS scope of work, essentially requiring EIFS contractors to carry out that work as well. The
definition of an EIFS, as published by ASTM International does not include flashing or sealants as part of the EIFS. Many of the
EIFS manufacturers have their own standard details showing typical building conditions for window and door flashings, control
joints, inside/outside corners, penetrations, and joints at dissimilar materials which should be followed for that manufacturers
EIFS is typically attached to the outside face of the building envelope with an adhesive (cementitious or acrylic based) or
mechanical fasteners. Adhesives are commonly used to attach EIFS to gypsum board, cement board, or concrete substrates.
EIFS is attached with mechanical fasteners (specially designed for this application) when installed over housewraps (sheet-good
weather barriers) such as are commonly used over wood sheathings. The supporting wall surface should be continuous (not
"open framing") and flat.
EIFS today are one of the most tested and well researched building envelope claddings in the construction industry. Research,
conducted by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, has validated that EIFS are
the "best performing cladding" in relation to thermal and moisture control when compared to brick, stucco, and cementitious
fiberboard siding. In addition EIFS is in full compliance with modern building codes which emphasize energy conservation
through the use of CI (continuous insulation) and a continuous air barrier. Both these components are built into today's EIFS
products to provide maximum energy savings, reduced environmental impact over the life of the structure, and improved Indoor
Air Quality (IAQ). Along with these functional advantages come virtually unlimited color, texture, and decorative choices to
enhance curb appeal and enjoyment of almost any home or structure.
EIFS before 2000 was a barrier system, meaning the EIFS system itself was the weather barrier. After 2000 the EIFS industry
introduced the air/moisture barrier that resides behind the foam. In a study done by Oak Ridge National Laboratory it was found
that the best air/moisture barrier was a fluid barrier.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have evaluated the 5 life cycle stages of the environmental impact of
EIFS alongside brick, aluminum, stucco, vinyl, and cedar. Depending on a variety of site and project specific conditions, EIFS
has the potential to save money in construction costs and contribute toward energy efficient operations and environmental
responsibility when correctly designed and executed.
EIFS have also passed a variety of fire tests that range from resistance to ignitability, including ASTM E 119, NFPA 268, NFPA
285 and ANSI FM 4880.
Types of EIFS are defined by their materials and the existence/absence of a drainage plane. The EIFS Industry Manufacturers
Association (EIMA) defines two classes of EIFS, Class PB (polymer based) identified as PB EIFS and Class PM (polymer
modified) identified as PM EIFS.
Polymer based EIFS is the most common type in North America and historically used expanded polystyrene (EPS) insulation
adhered to the substrate with fiberglass mesh embedded in a nominal 1/16 inch (1.6 mm) base coat which can receive
additional layers of mesh and base coat for stronger impact resistance. Other types of insulation board can include
Polymer modified EIFS use extruded polystyrene insulation (XEPS), and a thick, cementitious base coat applied over
mechanically attached glass fiber reinforcing mesh. The system has joints similar to traditional stucco. PM EIFS have evolved to
include different insulation materials and base coats.
The most common type of EIFS used today is the system that includes a drainage cavity, which allows any and all moisture to
exit the wall. EIFS with drainage typically consists of the following components:
- An optional water-resistive barrier (WRB) that covers the substrate
- A drainage plane between the water resistive barrier and the insulation board that is most commonly achieved with
vertical ribbons of adhesive applied over the water resistive barrier
- Insulation board typically made of expanded polystyrene (EPS) which is secured with an adhesive or mechanically to the
- Glass-fiber reinforcing mesh embedded in the base coat
- A water-resistant base coat that is applied on top of the insulation to serve as a weather barrier
- A finish coat that typically uses colorfast and crack-resistant acrylic co-polymer technology.
If an EIFS with Drainage, or water-managed EIFS is installed, a water resistive barrier is first installed over the substrate
(generally glass faced exterior-grade gypsum sheathing, oriented strand board (OSB) or plywood). The moisture barrier is
applied to the entire wall surface with a mesh tape over joints and a liquid-applied membrane or a protective wrap like TYVEK or
felt paper. Then a drainage cavity is created (usually by adding some sort of space between the foam and the water resistive
barrier). Then the other 3 layers, described above, are added. This type of EIFS is required by many building codes areas on
wood frame construction, and is intended to provide a path for incidental water that may get behind the EIFS with a safe route
back to the outside. The purpose is to preclude water from damaging the supporting wall.
Adhesives and finishes are water-based, and thus must be installed at temperatures well above freezing. Two types of
adhesives are used with EIFS: those that contain Portland cement ("cementitious"), or do not have any Portland cement
("cementless"). Adhesives that contain Portland cement harden by the chemical reaction of the cement with water. Adhesives
and finishes that are cementless harden by the evaporation of water. Adhesives come in two forms: The most common is in a
plastic pail as a paste, to which Portland cement is added and as dry powders in sacks, to which water is added. Finishes come
in a plastic pail, ready to use, like paint. EIFS insulation comes in individual pieces, usually 2' x 4', in large bags. The pieces are
trimmed to fit the wall at the construction site.
Common Problems for EIFS are as follows:
- Failure to install or properly install sealant joints around windows, doors, pipes, conduits, and other penetrations of the
field of the EIFS.
- Failure to flash window and door openings in the field of the EIFS to divert leakage through the window or door to the
- Failure to install diverters (kick-out flashing) at ends of roof flashing terminating in the EIFS wall.
- Failure to properly backwrap edges of EIFS at terminations and penetrations in the field of the EIFS.
- Failure to install expansion joints at floor lines in EIFS applied over wood frame construction.
- Failure to notch insulation boards at corners of openings for windows and doors to avoid insulation board joint at the
corner of the opening.
- Failure to install diagonal mesh in lamina at corners of openings for windows and doors.
- Installation of decks over EIFS without proper flashing.
- Unrepaired impact damage.
- Inadequate base coat applications at corners.
- Inadequate base and finish coat application in reveals.
- Installation of reveals at board joints.
- Lack of adequate slope on skyward facing surfaces.
- Damage from ropes, cables, etc. to EIFS parapet tops.
The EIFS manufacturers sell the various system components (adhesives, coatings, etc.) through specialty building product
distributors who in turn resell the components to local EIFS installers. The top 5 EIFS manufacturers Dryvit Systems, STO Corp.,
BASF Wall Systems, Master Wall, and Parex - account for about 90% of the EIFS market. Another benefit of EIFS is the option
to add architectural details that are composed of the same materials. EIFS mouldings or as they are commonly referred to,
stucco mouldings, come in a large variety of shapes and sizes. They are widely used on residential / commercial projects and
are gaining popularity worldwide. Production methods have come a long way since their inception which allow manufacturers to
create with great efficiency in a cost effective manner.