Up Front: Men of Letters
June 24, 2008
I receive letters to the editor on a regular basis, some complimentary, some not. In the first half of this year, EIFS and stucco were attacked by self-serving groups, and fortunately the industry responded with its own “letter to the editor.”
On Friday, January 25, I watched the television footage just like everyone else of the Monte Carlo Casino & Hotel in Las Vegas and was equally saddened to see a beautiful building being destroyed by flames and moreover concerned for the guests in the hotel and the firefighters. Unfortunately, some people and competing industries with agendas had a different take on the story. The anti-EIFS proponents came out of the woodwork and one publication for the engineering field chimed in to help the anticipated “EIFS-must-be-banned” chants. EIMA and its Executive Director Steve Klamke did a great job of speaking up and presenting the truth. His letters to the editor at that magazine helped set the record straight.
It has been more than six months since that day and try as they did, the anti-EIFS group failed. Why? The simple truth and common sense was spoken. The mega hotel-casino is and has been back in full operation. The code authorities are not intending to make any revisions to the code with regard to EIFS (except implementing it into the code). EIMA did what was needed and they prevailed. I believe the letters helped.
STUCCO TAKES A HIT
Another magazine that is aimed at specification writers for architectural firms across the U.S. made unfortunate remarks recently about stucco. And similar to the negative comments published by the other magazine on EIFS and the Monte Carlo, this other magazine ran a feature on why stucco does not work in wet climates. A few months ago, I wrote an editorial about urban legends and commented that false myths and mistruths can take off if they get a foothold and must be faced head on to prevent becoming part of society’s “assumed truth.” With that, I felt I was obligated to write this letter to the editor of that magazine:
I was slightly disappointed to read the story “In the wrong place at the wrong time.” The story indicates that stucco is the wrong material for coastal climates. The author insinuates the only reason stucco works along the California coastline is due to the lack of rainfall. I spent 15 years in Seattle and assure you that properly applied stucco works along that rainy coastline, as well as in California. The author also infers that water pours through cracks in stucco. This is not true and many tests confirm that hairline cracks in Portland cement rarely, if ever, present a leak problem. Please do not take my word for it, go to Google and look up “autogenous healing.”
I will be the first to state a poor stucco job is a disaster and a coastal environment will hasten the failure. However, a proper stucco application over metal framing with well-designed flashings will last the life of the building with minimal maintenance, regardless of hairline cracks.
My concern is the author has painted stucco with a very broad and unfavorable brush. An architect who may be considering stucco on their next project might be inclined to use another product or system, when in fact cement stucco may be the perfect choice and what the owner wants. I have written many articles … and a book on cement stucco, I have lectured around the country, provided countless expert witness testimony with cement stucco installations and have no reservations about using traditional cement stucco on coastal projects. The keys to success are a quality contractor with well-designed flashings and third party inspections to verify proper installations. For example, the last photograph in the article has an expanded flange casing bead over building paper. To the trained expert, this is the first sign of trouble and a hint there are more problems and substandard workmanship.
These letters do have an impact and must be done to preserve our industry. I encourage others to take the time to write and comment if you see what you think is unjust or self-serving. I appreciate all the comments and take them to heart. And yes, even the negative ones. W&C