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Stucco Inspection


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I am going to inspect a house built in 1991 next week and I know that there is stucco siding. I alerted my client to the issue of EIFS and they questioned the listing agent about the stucco. They were told that it is a traditional portland cement stucco with stucco covered foam quoins and trim.

I have spoken to my client again and they told me that they noticed some small cracks. I know how to red flag the EIFS stuff but have not inspected many newer houses with this type of installation.

My client is so concerned about the stucco that the have asked me to look at the stucco before they come out to meet me (from California) next week.

I was at the house today and I saw very small areas where there is visible wire mesh. I am assuming that this is a traditional installation. There are horizontal metal expansion joints where the wood framing meets the foundation. The metal joints may also be some type of flashing/weeping system.

I tapped on the siding and the stucco covered foam trim areas were very apparent. The fields are very solid. I searched for any areas where I could see fiber mesh but could not find any. Additionally, there was no visible mesh at siding penetrations (light fixtures, AC lines, etc.). There are a few minor cracks but the stucco is in good shape.

The stucco covered wood framed areas is vertically aligned with the stucco covered foundation.

I have a few questions. Has anyone every seen wire mesh used in an EIFS installation? Am I wrong in assuming that this is not an EIFS system. What else should I be looking for.

Can anyone suggest some sites to find more info?

I took some photos and will try to post them tomorrow.

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After the first time you see and feel true EIFS, you will recognize it before you even get out of your truck for the inspection. I was fortunate to have been to Chapter meetings where sections, removed from a building, where passed around for show and tell before I ever saw it in the field. The first clue I notice is the windows are recessed from the wall surface. Typically, the foam board is applied after the windows are installed creating a "return" of the stucco to the frames.

The first time I came across a synthetic stucco top coat over traditional, I was nervous. I called the builder from the inspection and drove to a development where they were currently working to prove to myself it wasn't EIFS. I always pull exterior outlets and click a photo showing the wire and cement base coats. That has stopped the calls from lenders and insurers questioning my report. Fortunately, the only stucco I see now is lime render over 18" thick fieldstone walls.

Traditional or EIFS, why doesn't anyone install kick-outs at the termination of roof-to-wall joints?

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Hi Steven,

It's a 3-coat job with plant-ons added. The plant-ons are added at the second coat and the fiberglass mesh is imbedded in that coat and then it is top coated and uniformly finished with an acrylic finish.

Very small cracks are typical and not a concern. The accessory joints should be at returns and under every window. There should be wide joints packed with backer rod and tooled at the perimeter of windows and doors.

Get yourself a copy of the Portland Cement Stucco guide from the Stucco Manufacturer's Association.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Originally posted by inspecthistoric

Traditional or EIFS, why doesn't anyone install kick-outs at the termination of roof-to-wall joints?

Don't feel bad, I have yet to see my first one on ANY kind of siding at rake walls around here. Never..seen..one. Strangely, some houses have a 2 - 8 inch rot-spot at every single one of those places, and some have none at all...with no discernable differences in the installations.

Brian G.

Thankful to Not Be a Kick-out Salesman [;)]

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Steve,

Like Bill says, pull an outlet & a light fixture. You are then able to see:

Plywood or OSB

Vapor barrier (tar paper or tyvek)

Mesh

Thickness of stucco

Because your so close when taking pictures, I take several just to make sure there in focus.

Darren

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Hi Steven,

For the sake of accuracy, put the idea that it is an EIFS system out of your head and do not call it a hybrid system. It isn't an EIFS system unless there is a layer of EPS foam insulation covering all of the house between the lamina and the sheathing. The lamina will typically be about 1/8 to 3/16 inches thick with fiberglass mesh imbedded into it. If you have wire lath and accessory joints it is stucco - no ifs, ands or buts about it, and calling it a hybrid system is going to weaken your report.

What you've got is an ordinary stucco system with styrofoam plant-ons added for detailing - nothing more, nothing less.

The presence of the plant-ons and the fiberglass mesh that reinforces the material they are incased in does not make it even partly an EIFS system. The presence of accessory and expansion joints rules out EIFS. EIFS is continuous without interruption.

A stucco wall is essentially a rain screen. There should be a double layer of grade D paper behind the stucco, extruded lath and then the stucco, and the stucco should be a minimum of 19 mm thick in your climate.

Besides the stucco guide that I mentioned above, let me suggest you also pick up a copy of the Exterior Insulation and Finish System Existing Construction, Inspection, Maintenance and Repair Guide by Robert G. Thomas Jr., and a copy of The EIFS Primer by the same author. Both are published by CMD Associates, Inc., 2030 Dexter Ave. N. #229, Seattle, WA 98109 (206) 285-6811; http://www.eifs.com .

Those three books can be considered the bibles for stucco and EIFS systems and if you base all recommendations on their content you'll be on solid ground - not thin ice.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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I have to agree with Mike

However,

What he really means is 'expanded' lath and not 'extruded'.

Anyway,

You mentioned,

"I was at the house today and I saw very small areas where there is visible wire mesh."

AND that has me worried. Visible wire mesh or lath is not a good thing. There's so much to a stucco inspection that I now tread VERY carefully

Stucco application as we speak is unregulated, and the workmanship questionable at best. A government study has determined that 15% of all applications in the province of Alberta is compliant. And that leaves 85% with expected failures in the next 3-5 years.

Here is how I start my stucco inspection.

I walk to the wall and like an Evangelical born again contractor I place my hand on the wall.

You need to FEEL the wall and let it talk to you. Feel the texture and most importantly the density.

Is it soft?

Is it hart?

Is it crumbly?

That will tell you a lot about the mix design.

And

what to expect for the rest of the application.

"Can anyone suggest some sites to find more info?"

NO

What I would suggest is to contact someone like Imasco Minerals Inc. and tag along with an inspector for a day. The experience is invaluable.

Don't forget to buy him lunch.

Good Luck.

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Originally posted by RobC

I have to agree with Mike

However,

What he really means is 'expanded' lath and not 'extruded'.

Anyway,

You mentioned,

"I was at the house today and I saw very small areas where there is visible wire mesh."

AND that has me worried. Visible wire mesh or lath is not a good thing. There's so much to a stucco inspection that I now tread VERY carefully

Stucco application as we speak is unregulated, and the workmanship questionable at best. A government study has determined that 15% of all applications in the province of Alberta is compliant. And that leaves 85% with expected failures in the next 3-5 years.

Here is how I start my stucco inspection.

I walk to the wall and like an Evangelical born again contractor I place my hand on the wall.

You need to FEEL the wall and let it talk to you. Feel the texture and most importantly the density.

Is it soft?

Is it hart?

Is it crumbly?

That will tell you a lot about the mix design.

And

what to expect for the rest of the application.

"Can anyone suggest some sites to find more info?"

NO

What I would suggest is to contact someone like Imasco Minerals Inc. and tag along with an inspector for a day. The experience is invaluable.

Don't forget to buy him lunch.

Good Luck.

Thanks for the input and advice Rob.

When I say small areas. I mean two or three areas where there is about a 1" area of wire lath texture visible at the bottom edges of the stucco where it was installed a little thin. I did not see exposed metal. I know that it was not installed over fiber mesh.

Generally, I thought it was a good application. The surface was very solid, no crumbling, and minimal cracking.

There was nothing alarming to me.

I called the my client today and told her that it was not EIFS. I also suggested that since the original owners are selling the house, she should ask for any available documentation of the construction.

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Originally posted by Amn

Another good resource that is free is the Texas Lathing and Plastering Association (TLPCA) website www.tlpca.org.

They have a PDF manual which is a great resource for both stucco and EIFS installations.

A

Do you know how to get a copy of the manual? I emailed a request on their contact page, but there wasn't any specific instructions on obtaining it. Is it free? If not, how much?

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The Texas Lathe & Plastering Group sold me their 3-ring notebook of details about 3-4 years ago and its good. I've had various local Code Officials see copy's of my reports with pages out of the manual and call wanting to borrow my book. They wanted to show a builder or installer how it should be done.

I never see "Real Kickout Flashings" until the repairs start. Then they get used a lot. Stucco Screeds are never seen and not really needed in most instances.

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Hi Steven,

We went you to keep them under 100 KB. Go to the Windows site, click on "powertoys for windows" and download the image resizing tool. Then, go to your photo file, right click the photo, click resize and then choose small or medium and save it. Then make sure your file name has no spaces in it. If you want spaces, use an understrike character for the space. Finally, come back here, click on the edit icon for your post, delete those photos and insert the resized photos.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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One more time.

Here are the stucco photos in a smaller format.

The deck photo shows what can happen when a deck is cantilevered and the framing is not properly flashed. This is an accident waiting to happen.

Download Attachment: icon_photo.gif rotted deck.jpg

45.23 KB

Download Attachment: icon_photo.gif Stucco corner.jpg

37.38 KB

Download Attachment: icon_photo.gif Visible Lathe.jpg

46.74 KB

Download Attachment: icon_photo.gif Window close-up.jpg

47.05 KB

Download Attachment: icon_photo.gif Window trim.jpg

38.39 KB

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Yeah,

That's a hack job. No expansion accessories, in contact with the ground, no casing beads, poorly applied mortar, too close to the roof, needs kickouts, on and on and on. That guy should have his contractor's license pulled.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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