Rhymes with Clueless

349 Metropolitan, pre-EIFS (the post-EIFS view is here.

Today, the Times discovered that a lot of developers are using stucco, in particular EIFS, the stucco-over-styrofoam system that has been all the rage for the last 10 or 15 years. You see it in retrofits – its the new artificial siding in North Brooklyn (often covering up old artificial siding). You also see it in new construction, particularly at secondary elevations and rooftop bulkheads. If you’ve had your back yard snowed with styrofoam shavings, you’ve witnessed the EIFS installation process.

And then there’s this: “EIFS (rhymes with knifes) suffered a bad reputation in the 1990s…”. This is a new one on me – I have always heard it called “eee-fuss” (rhymes with doofus), not “ˈīfes” (or “eye-fiss”, or whatever rhymes with knifes). Maybe the EIFS Industry Members Association is trying a little rebranding?

There are certainly plenty who would say that EIFS still suffers a bad reputation, though EIFS proponents chalk that up to poor installation. But therein lies the rub – anyone ready to slap up a cladding material that is less than half the cost of just about any other exterior finish is probably not springing for skilled labor to do the installation.

Which is not to say that EIFS (or DryVit, or whatever) is evil, but it is ubiquitous. Used properly, it a decent building material that can look decent too. Unfortunately, its rarely used properly – either in design or execution. Though I suppose the same could be said about charcoal-gray brick.