How to Tell if Your Building Is Stucco or EIFS

People often mistake EIFS for more traditional stucco. So how do you know whether or not you’re working with EIFS (which is essentially synthetic stucco) or actual stucco when you’re in need of making some stucco repairs in Indianapolis, IN?

Here are just a few of the factors to take into consideration.


A traditional stucco system will be extremely durable, as it is basically used to cover your home with a layer of rock. This cement stucco is made with a mixture of sand, Portland cement, a little bit of lime and water. It is a very fine-grained concrete that then gets attached to the house using a waterproof barrier paper, metal flashings and galvanized wire mesh. It features multiple layers: a facade that acts as a primary barrier to the structure of the home, as well as a concealed secondary barrier that directs any water that gets behind that primary layer back to the exterior.

EIFS, on the other hand, features a multi-layer synthetic stucco that is quite a bit softer than traditional stucco. Once you start closely examining the material, its hardness and durability should give you an idea of whether you’re dealing with EIFS or standard stucco.


Barrier EIFS features a base coat and finish coat on top of an EPS board that then gets directly attached to the sheathing with an adhesive or fasteners. This type of system does not provide any means of water draining out after it gets behind the EPS board. Compare this to traditional stucco, which is applied on a wire mesh and on standoffs that give some space behind the stucco for what’s known as water “weeping.” Traditional stucco contains no EPS or Styrofoam boarding.


While EIFS and stucco look very similar, they have some very different physical properties. With EIFS, for example, water cannot pass back through its coating in vapor form once the moisture gets behind it. With traditional stucco, there are pores that allow moisture to come back out of the wall cavity in vapor form, making traditional stucco much more “breathable,” per se, than EIFS.


One of the simpler methods of determining whether you’re working with traditional stucco or EIFS is to just knock on the material. If it’s hollow, it’s almost definitely EIFS. But if it feels solid, as though you’re knocking on brick, that means it’s probably your traditional hard coat variety of stucco.


Most of the time, EIFS installers do not create sufficient joints around penetrations such as gutter straps, lighting fixtures or doorbells. So, if you remove those items, see if you can see any of the foam boarding used in EIFS. If you do, it means you’re working with EIFS, but if it’s not present, then you’re probably dealing with stucco.

These are just a few examples of some of the ways you can determine whether you have stucco or EIFS at your home. For more information about stucco and EIFS repair in Indianapolis, IN, contact Knauss Property Services, LLC today.