What's the Difference? Precise Terminology for the Home Inspector
What's the Difference? Precise Terminology for the Home Inspector October Home Inspections 866 628-1084
What’s the Diff? Series
Precise Terminology for the Home Inspector

by Arlene Puentes, October Home Inspections

What's the Difference between Stucco and EIFS and Fiber Cement Siding?

Stucco is a mixture of cement, sand, water and lime which is applied in at least three layers to a surface with a trowel. It can be applied to almost any rigid surface, for example, poured in place concrete, masonry and plywood.

EIFS is an acronym for Exterior Insulation and Finish System. It is also known as synthetic stucco. It is a layered application. Mesh, troweled on base coats and an acrylic top coat over insulating foam board.

Fiber Cement Siding is a siding product made of Portland cement, ground sand, fibers and other additives. It is an installed siding, as opposed to an applied siding like Stucco and EIFS. Imagine installing wallboard or plywood sheathing. It is available in planks with the look of wood siding, in pieces, with the look of wood shingles and in panels made to look like stucco. The knuckle rap test will give you a feel and sound like thin concrete.

What you need to know: EIFS failures are high profiled and easily researched. You need to learn how to distinguish EIFS from stucco or the other (non-EIFS) materials that look like stucco because you may, in the temporary absence of additional training, wish to refer an EIFS siding inspection to an inspector who specializes in EIFS siding inspections. Give the stucco-looking siding a rap with your knuckles. The foam underneath the coatings give EIFS a hollow sound. The knuckle rap test will give fiber cement siding a feel and sound like thin concrete. Go to buildings with known siding. Get use to identifying these products in the field.

All text and photos © Arlene Puentes
Do not copy


More from the "What's the Diff" Series:

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Mortar And Concrete?
Masonry And Concrete?
Cinder Blocks and Concrete Blocks?
A Pier and a Post and a Column?
An Adjustable Metal Column and a Lally Column?
A Check and a Crack in a Wood Framing Member?
Yankee Gutters and Built In Gutters?
A Ridge Beam and a Ridge Board?
A Joist and an I-joist?

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