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Stucco, Stone, & Stone Veneer Inspections

We have been performing Stucco, Stone, and Stone Veneer Inspections for 20 years & have completed well over 6,000 stucco inspections. Ron Huffman was the second Stucco Inspector to get certified in Colorado in 1999. Since then, he has trained our other stucco inspectors. Currently, we have Ron, Bob, Doug, & Aaron doing these inspections. They are all EDI (Exterior Design Institute) inspectors & AWCI (Association of Wall & Ceiling Industry) certified.

SITE WORK: Our inspectors will do a visual examination of the exterior walls to identify the type of stucco system and determine areas of concern, if any. They will only need access inside the home if there are decks or balconies where inside access is required. Probing is the best method for testing stucco. As for other testing equipment, the infrared camera companies have not yet been able to find a way that their equipment can accurately measure the moisture content of the walls independent of probing. Probing allows the inspector to investigate behind the stucco without removing parts of the walls. The probes allow for an accurate reading of moisture and to test the substrate to see if it has been affected by moisture. The inspector will then fill the holes with caulking that matches, or closely matches, the color of the stucco.

PROBING: There are 3 to 5 probes per 1000 square feet:         
• For EIFS Stucco the probe is a double pronged probe (the size of a sharpened pencil end)
• For Hard Coat Stucco a 3/16-inch drill bit is used to make probe holes

THE REPORT: The report emailed within 2-3 business days to all appropriate parties. The report averages 9 to 20 pages in length. Most stucco repair companies can give an estimate of repair costs from our report. We are also available for follow-up phone consultations for inspections and for stucco repairs.
The report will include the following:
• Photos of all elevations
• Photos of concerns with detailed comments
• Locations & results of moisture testing
• Summary references, repair standards & appropriate repair options

FEES: Our fees are based on the age of the home and the total square footage of the home (above grade). If the home has a walk-out basement, the square footage of the basement also needs to be included in the total square footage. If there are any outbuildings on the property that need inspected, that square footage should also be added to the total. If you book a home inspection along with a stucco Inspection with us, a discount will be included for both.

Moisture Intrusion May Occur at the Following

Windows and Doors
• Look for peeling paint, evidence of water damage on the interior wall, staining on the exterior.
• Check for calking around window sills and door jams. Stucco manufacturers recommend a specific sealant for their windows.
• Is sill pan flashing present or is it needed?

Flashings
• Flashings at appropriate places direct water away from the house.
• Missing, improper, or unsealed flashings where roof lines terminate into an EIFS wall will allow roof run-off to be dumped directly behind the EIFS.
• Water must be directed away from windows, decks, gutters, etc.

Caulking
• Penetrations in the EIFS at decks, hose bibs, dryer vents, light fixtures, satellite dishes, etc. must be properly sealed with the appropriate sealant.
• All joints where EIFS meets a dissimilar material must be sealed with the appropriate sealant.
• Existing sealants should be adhered, soft and flexible.

Installation Issues
• Foam insulation should be at least 6 inches above soft grade and two inches above hard surfaces. This prevents wicking of moisture and eliminates a termite path into the structure.
• The foam substrate should be properly back-wrapped to provide for proper protection of the exterior system.
• The usage of backer rod and sealant is necessary for the proper construction of an isolation type of joint such as windows, expansion joints and grade terminations.
• EIFS used on non-vertical surfaces such as trim and decorative touches should have a sloping surface to prevent standing water.

What Type of Stucco Do I have?
• Traditional Stucco
• One-Coat Stucco
• EIFS (Exterior Insulation and Finish System) or Synthetic Stucco
• Moisture Drainage EIFS System

For the homeowner, stucco is a term loosely applied to various kinds of plasterwork, both exterior and interior. The most common use is to refer to plaster or cement used for the external of buildings. Hard Coat Stucco consists of a mixture of cement or lime, sand and water applied in one or more coats over rough masonry or frame structures. Synthetic versions of stucco have come into wide use that include acrylic resins or polymers. The most common type is known as Barrier EIFS. EIFS has been used for a little over three decades in the US. It was developed in Germany during the 1950’s to assist in the re-building of Europe after World War II. EIFS combines exterior finish system durability with good thermal insulation and a variety of texture color retention. In the late 1990’s EIFS manufacturers started to develop and market a second generation of PB-EIFS for wood frame construction. These are often generally referred to as Moisture Drainage EIFS or MD PB-EIFS.

Traditional Stucco:
• A Moisture Barrier is required on top of moisture sensitive substrates such as wood or gypsum
• 3 coats or layers with a total thickness of 3/4 of an inch or more – Scratch Coat, Brown Coat, & Finish Coat.
• Metal Accessories – Casing Beads or Stops or Grounds, Weep Screeds, Corner Aids, & Control Joints & Expansion joints at 144 square feet.
• Flashings are required as a part of weatherproofing the system.
• Vulnerable to excessive cracking.

One-Coat-Stucco:
Is a newer stucco system that is very like traditional stucco, but with some advantages. It provides design flexibility, durability and water management. It can also be finished in a variety of ways including premixed colored cement stucco finish coats, elastomeric coatings and paints or even acrylic textured finishes. Each one-coat stucco system is a proprietary mix of Portland cement, polymers, & fiber reinforcement. Each approved One-Coat-Stucco has its own Evaluation Report by the various Model Codes (the Model Codes have recently been merged into one Model code, ICC or IRC).
Note: The One-Coat-Stucco name is a misnomer since there are actually at least two coats.
• A Moisture Barrier is required on top of moisture sensitive substrates such as wood or gypsum
• One-Coat-Stucco is applied in coats or layers with a total thickness of 3/8 to 1/2 inches
• Metal Accessories – Casing Beads or Stops or Grounds, Weep Screeds, Corner Aids, & Control Joints & Expansion joints at 144 square feet, window and door corners and per architectural details.
• Flashings are required as part of weatherproofing the system.
• Vulnerable to some cracking. Although, if mixed and installed properly, the proprietary mixes are very effective at minimizing cracking.
• Details are well developed and part of the Evaluation Report or the manufacturer’s installation manuals. See the Northwest Walls and Ceiling Bureau Stucco Resource Guide for further clarification.

EIFS (Exterior Insulation and Finish System) or Synthetic Stucco:
Since EIFS is a non-load bearing exterior wall system, the system’s primary function is to provide a weather barrier, thermal insulation and an attractive exterior cladding. When properly installed and maintained, the system will provide many years of beauty and function. The two basic types of EIFS are Barrier EIFS and the newer Moisture Managed EIFS. Both systems require following the manufacturer’s installation details carefully. Barrier EIFS has been used for over three decades in the USA. Most EIFS used on residences were PB EIFS (Polymer Based). Each system is a proprietary mix and has its own Evaluation Report by the various Model Codes (The Model Codes have recently been merged into one Model code, IBC or IRC)
System Components:
• EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) insulation properly attached to substrate or framing.
• EPS properly prepared to receive basecoat.
• Polymer Based basecoat applied to EPS.
• Fiberglass mesh immediately embedded into fresh basecoat
• Finish Coat properly applied to cured basecoat.
No PVC or metal Accessories; however, edges must be properly back-wrapped to protect the EPS and minimize damage. Details have developed over the past 30 years by the individual manufacturers and EIMA.

Moisture Drainage PB EIFS:
This is the second generation of PB EIFS. The difference is that MD PB EIFS has a secondary moisture resistive Barrier to control incidental moisture that gets through the EIFS Exterior Barrier and permits it to drain out the bottom of the system. The MD EIFS should be installed such that all water will again be shed at the exterior surface and a secondary moisture resistive barrier to handle any moisture that gets past surface barriers.

Moisture Drainage EIFS:
The newer Exterior Insulation Finish systems, Moisture Drainage EIFS, uses a drainage plane and moisture barrier on top of the moisture sensitive substrates. Each system is proprietary and has its own Evaluation Report by the various Model Codes. As was stated above, the Model Codes have recently been merged into one Model code, IBC or IRC. A moisture barrier is required on top of moisture sensitive substrates such as wood, gypsum, etc.

Moisture Drainage EIFS System Components are like Barrier EIFS:
• EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) insulation properly attached to substrate or framing.
• EPS properly prepared to receive basecoat.
• Polymer Based basecoat applied to EPS.
• Fiberglass mesh immediately embedded into fresh basecoat.
• Finish Coat properly applied to cured basecoat.
• Flashings at roofs, decks, windows and doors are required as part of weatherproofing the system.
• A sheet or liquid applied moisture barrier.

The significant difference, in addition to the Moisture Barrier, is the use of PVC Accessories.
• PVC Weep Screeds at bottom of all walls and above windows, doors, decks or doors
• Horizontal Expansion Joints must allow for the drainage of moisture.
• Flashings are required as part of weatherproofing the system.
Properly installed EIFS Moisture Drainage systems should also be resistant to cracking. The details are typically well developed and part of the Evaluation Report or the Manufacturer’s installation manuals.
All EIFS manufacturers have details and procedures that builders and applicators are expected to follow. Installation details are similar among the various EIFS products; however, there are some differences.

  • Commonly Asked Questions About Stucco

    Why do I need a stucco inspection?  Isn’t that covered by my home inspection?

    Most home inspectors lack the expertise and specialized equipment necessary to properly assess the waterproofing integrity of stucco systems.  The purpose of the Stucco Moisture Analysis is to access the condition of the stucco system for visible installation issues, inadequate water diversion and sealant failures.  If necessary, the inspector will conduct ransom moisture readings using electronic moisture devices.

    What is Moisture Intrusion & how does it affect Stucco, Man-made Stone, or EIFS?

    Moisture Intrusion occurs when water penetrates the building’s exterior weatherproof barrier. Over time, if undetected, this moisture can cause damage to both the EIFS system and the Structural system. An additional problem is that trapped moisture can support mold, mildew and fungus growth.

    Is Colorado too dry to have moisture intrusion problems?

    No, our semi-arid climate has intermittent periods of dry weather and intense wind driven rains that can cause significant water intrusion.  Thus, it may take longer for significant deterioration to occur.

    If I have problems, does the stucco always have to be removed from the house?

    No, typically repairs can be accomplished with limited invasive measures.  The earlier moisture intrusion is detected, the more economical the repairs and less likely that structural damage will have occurred.

    Should I have my home re-inspected after repairs are made?

    Yes, it’s a good idea to have repairs inspected soon after completion to ensure that repairs were properly completed.  It is also wise to have your home inspected annually as a part of routine maintenance.  Should you decide to sell your home, annual inspections and repair documentation would be a valuable selling tool.

    Do I need an inspection for new construction with stucco?

    Yes, it is important to remember that a stucco or EIFS exterior is an excellent wall system only when it has been properly installed, according to manufacturer’s specifications.  In progress inspections, as the stucco is being installed, provide the best opportunity to identify improper installations so that they may be readily addressed.  If the stucco application has been completed, a visual inspection will identify possible moisture intrusion locations so that they may be properly repaired.

    Do you also do repair work on EIFS?

    We do not make repairs and we are not affiliated with any repair company. We would consider this a conflict of interest.

    I am the homeowner selling, but I’m concerned about holes in my stucco.  Why should I agree?

    We’ve been doing stucco inspections for 20 years & have performed well over 6,000 stucco inspections. All our inspectors are all EDI (Exterior Design Institute) inspectors and AWCI (Association of Wall & Ceiling Industry) certified.  The inspector will do a visual inspection of the exterior walls to identify the type of stucco.  The probe for an EIFS system is a double pronged probe (the size of a sharpened pencil end).  The probe for hard coat system requires a 3/16 drill bit.  Typically, there are 3 to 5 probes per 1000 square feet.  Probing allows the inspector to investigate behind the stucco system without removing parts of the walls. The inspector will then fill the hole with caulking that matches the color of the stucco.

    What does the stucco inspection include?

    A basic inspection is limited to a visual walk-around of the property, to determine if the EIFS has been installed per industry standards.  The next level, which is the recommended inspection, is semi-intrusive requiring the use of a probe moisture meter (double pronged instrument 1/8” holes) punched through the system, which are then caulked. This will determine the moisture level of the sheathing and/or wood framing and then to try to determine the amount of damage, if any, to each. Sometimes it is necessary to see interior walls to check for visible signs of moisture getting behind the stucco.  If the stucco system is an (EIFS) Exterior Insulation and Finish System, they will do a non-intrusive scan in areas of concern. The scan device does not work on Hard Coat Stucco.

    What are some of the signs that my EIFS is failing or has failed?

    Usually, there are very few visible “signs,” especially to the untrained eye. Therefore, inspection and moisture testing are so important. Some of the more obvious signs you may want to look for are bulging or cracking EIFS, as well as water stains on the outside or inside of the wall, and around the windows, doors, etc.

    What can I look for that would indicate that I may have a moisture intrusion problem in an existing home? If any of these observations observed, further investigation is suggested.

      • Does the caulking properly seal stucco to window and door frames?
      • Is there staining on the stucco walls below where gutters end?
      • Is there cracking or bulging in the stucco? Is the stucco loose or soft?
      • Are there any penetrations in the stucco that are not properly sealed, such as decks, railings, vents, pipes, log, etc. attachments?
      • Are there visible signs of water damage on interior walls, ceilings, or floors?

    Where can I get information about inspection protocols and moisture testing equipment?

    Go to NAHB Research Center, a subsidiary of the National Association of Home Builders at www.nahbrc.org and type EIFS in the search box.  A list of public domain information is displayed.  Choose #8 – Moisture testing guide for wood frame construction clad with EIFS to download a file of the moisture testing protocols.

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