Commercial Construction Stucco vs. EIFS

Commercial construction uses many different types of materials during a project.  Traditional stucco and External Insulation and Finishing Systems (EIFS) are two materials that are often used to waterproof and insulate a building.  In this blog we discuss the Pros and Cons of each.

Stucco is a traditional style that is a natural mix of Portland cement, limestone powder, sand, and water.  Stucco is applied to a building using a 3-coat system, starting with installing a base mesh that looks similar to chicken wire often called metal lathe.  Next you apply the stucco material with a trowel over the prepared surface. Textured finishes and colors can be added to enhance the overall look and feel.

Pros of Stucco

  • It is easy to work with and cost efficient.
  • The product cures quickly and is easy to repair. If properly maintained, maintenance costs are relatively low.
  • Decorative elements can be added because the application is simple.
  • Some jurisdictions allow only 3-loat stucco.

Cons of Stucco

  • Stucco weighs approximately 10 pounds per square foot.
  • When damaged, traditional stucco requires remediation of an entire wall or construction joint.
  • Stucco is prone to cracking over time and is susceptible to damage if not maintained correctly. Water intrusion can lead to cracking, peeling, chipping, and even structural damage throughout the whole wall if not remediated in a timely fashion.
  • Stucco is rigid and therefore can be vulnerable to buckling in extreme weather due to the temperature changes throughout the seasons.


EIFS is applied using thin layers of synthetic stucco. The first layer is comprised of a polystyrene foam board used to insulate the building. Next a fiberglass mesh and finishing coat are applied to waterproof the building. Additional layer may be added for further protection. EIFS provides greater protection to a building vs. traditional stucco, however it is generally higher in cost and takes longer to install.

Pros of EIFS

  • The continuous insulation around the building provides greater energy efficiency.
  • EIFS is a flexible material and therefore has less chance of cracking and crumbling due to changes in environmental elements.
  • The fiberglass layer reinforces and strengthens the EIFS, providing more durability.
  • EIFS is 80% lighter than traditional stucco.
  • Easier to customize than Stucco.

Cons of EIFS

  • The installation process for EIFS is time-consuming and generally a bit more complicated than traditional stucco. Opt for the “moisture drainage” system.
  • Can be more costly than stucco depending on custom foam shapes and sizes.
  • EIFS are more fragile compared to stucco.
  • Some jurisdictions will not allow EIFS.


Stucco and EIFS are mutually great options for a commercial construction project, which will work best for your project depends on your needs, wants and budget. Not sure where to start? Give us a call and we would be happy to walk through it with you.

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