The Finish Line: EIFS Installation Checklist
But usually that's much more than they want and they simply want a really basic generic list of the key items to look for. Many of them ask me for something really simple that they can put in their pocket and refer to when visit the site while the house is being built. So I put this info on my Web site as a free download. It's so popular, I thought Walls & Ceilings readers would like it.
I have found that not attending to the basic EIFS installation issues listed here tends to be the source of whatever problems might occur; get these basics done right and you're most of the way headed towards a good project.
The list below is geared toward EIFS with drainage as installed on wood frame homes but the list can be applied in many ways to traditional EIFS on commercial buildings, and even retrofits and prefab panels.
The list is broken down into sections that correspond to the basic steps that take place in the sequence of installing EIFS. Note that I do not indicate who is supposed to do certain activities (such as installing caulking), as that is a contractual matter and depends on how the construction documents and contractors work together (i.e., "Who agreed to do what?")
As EIFS are proprietary products, each producer has its own requirements for each system types but the list is pretty generic in terms of requirement for most EIFS. In other words, to be sure that a specific EIFS product is being properly installed, you do need to follow the producer's and contract requirements.
This list also includes some non-EIFS wall components that make up the entire EIFS-clad wall assembly. This is important, as the wall is a system, and coordination of design and installation of adjacent wall components affects the performance of the wall and construction process.
When the words "proper" or "approved" are used in the list below, it means in relation to what the EIFS producer requires, what the drawings and specs require and what the code requires. This list does not cover safety and legal issues or how to design specific end-use details (such as "What is a proper window flashings," etc.).
Since there are many variations on how EIFS is installed, this list does not tell you exactly how a certain thing should be done (i.e., the actual way to hold a trowel, etc.) but rather alerts you to basic generic issues that need attention, from which you can then refer to drawings, specs, code approvals and producer's information for building-specific details.
The list is written as a series of questions to ask yourself as you view the installation process. In other words, is this issue being properly dealt with on this building as the EIFS is being installed? Sometimes, the answer can be pretty unnerving, such as "I believe there is supposed be foam in this system and I don't see any."
Keep this list handy. I'll bet you'll find lots of day-to-day uses for it.
THE BASICS AND DESIGN ISSUES
- Is a bona fide, commercial-approved EIFS product (code-accepted and a system acceptable to the specifier) being used, i.e., not a home-brew pseudo EIFS product?
- Has the EIFS contractor been trained by the producer of specific product being installed? Corollary: Is there anyone on the site who has been personally trained in the installation of the specific product?
- Are drawings and specs available that show how this EIFS is to be installed on this building?
- Are EIFS-to-roof details being properly addressed, such as kick-out flashings?
- Are EIFS to projecting-deck issues properly detailed?
- Are products from different EIFS producers being mixed-and-matched to create a hybrid product?
- Have provisions been made for temporary protection due to weather issues, such as a beachfront condo in Thailand when a tsunami is known to be en route?
- Are the weather conditions OK for installing EIFS at the moment?
- Are wall-to-sloped-roof intersections properly flashed (kick-out flashings, etc.)?
- Are wall-to-deck intersections properly flashed?
- Is there adequate manpower and equipment available to properly install the EIFS?
- Is EIFS being used in some odd way for which it was not intended, such as a roof, indoors or below or too-near grade?
- Has adequate slope been provided at the top edge of EIFS areas (such as at window sills)?
- Are there communication issues involved on this job site, such as written installation instructions in non-English languages or are there translation/talking issues?
- If foam shapes are being used, are they part of the main EIFS system?
- If they are not, is using them (warranty and performance issues) OK with the main EIFS system?
THE SUPPORTING WALL STRUCTURE (THE "SUBSTRATE SYSTEM")
- Is the substrate a proper type (material composition, thickness, etc.) and is it properly attached (fastener type, spacing, etc.)?
- Is the substrate in usable condition (not deteriorated or wet, etc.)?
- Are the windows and adjacent flashings, and sealing materials in proper position?
- Are there any materials on the substrate that would inhibit proper bonding of an attachment adhesive (such as waterproofing or dust or not-fully-cured concrete)?
THE DRAINAGE SYSTEM (IF REQUIRED OR SPECIFIED)
- Has the necessary (an approved type of) weather resistive barrier (coating or sheet material) been properly installed?
- Is the drainage "system" (plastic mat; notched foam; etc.) in proper position?
- Are the sealing elements that connect the WRB to openings and other wall elements, (such as at windows) properly executed to result in effective drainage and water intrusion control?
- Has provision been made for weeping of the drainage cavity at lower edge of wall areas?
THE INSULATION LAYER
- Is the proper type of aged EIFS-type foam being used, including board size, tolerances, etc.?
- Is the attachment adhesive, if used, the proper type for substrate type?
- Is the attachment adhesive, if used, properly prepared (mixed, etc.)?
- Are the mechanical fasteners, if used, of correct type and spacing, and properly seated flush with the surface of the EIFS?
- Are the insulation board joints staggered in a running bond pattern?
- Have "L"-shaped pieces of foam been used at corners of openings?
- Are the foam boards interlocked at corners?
- Is there adhesive between ends of foam boards?
- Are there air gaps between ends of foam boards (or gaps filled with foam slivers)?
- Have floor line joints been installed?
- Has the foam been rasped flush?
- Is the foam surface in proper condition to receive the basecoat (not dented or deteriorated from sunlight, etc.)?
- Has the basecoat adhesive been properly prepared prior to being used (mixing; cement ratios; not-watered-down; etc.)?
- Is back-wrapping present at the perimeter of the EIFS?
- Is the mesh being used of the correct weight for areas to which it is being applied (heavy mesh at impact-prone areas, etc.)?
- Are the mesh ends lapped properly?
- Is the basecoat the correct thickness?
- Is it the correct color and texture?
- Is a physical sample on hand of the desired final appearance available, for comparison purposes?
- If spraying, is the equipment suitable to achieve desired results?
- If spraying, are the areas that are not to receive spray protected from overspray?
CAULKING AND FLASHING
- Are the caulking products being used approved for use by the sealant producer and EIFS producer with the EIFS product in question?
- Are the sealants applied to basecoat and not to the finish?
- Are the flashings properly lapped and sealed, etc.?