|Stucco Remediation: An Overview|
In a person’s attempt in researching Stucco or EIFS they might come across the term “cladding” or “stucco cladding”. By definition, cladding is the application of one material over another to provide a skin or layer intended to control the infiltration of weather elements, or for aesthetic purposes. Cladding can act as a control element instead of providing a water-proof condition. Cladding as a control element may serve to safely direct water in order to control run-off and prevent infiltration into the building structure. Stucco remediation requires a detailed scope of work and if any one procedure is missed, it is likely that problems will arise again. The same concept applies for EIFS remediation.
Nobody should rely on caulks and sealants because over time, caulks and sealants always tend to fail from either movement, degradation from sunlight, or from temperature. Water is always bound to get behind any and every exterior cladding of a building. It doesn’t matter if its brick, vinyl siding, stucco, stone, or EIFS, water will find a way through it. If you install a drainage plane and flashing with this type of mentality, you will never have to worry about water coming into the building.
Stucco is a cement based product. The thing with cement based products is that they are porous which means they absorb water. For example; when a stone, a sidewalk, or a brick gets wet, it becomes darker because it absorbs the water. The same concept applies with stucco. Stucco has a full absorption rate of about 15 seconds. That means traditional stucco only takes 15 seconds for water to fully absorb all the way through the stucco.
After 15 seconds, the moisture then hits the drainage plane. The drainage plane is made up of a drainage system that directs the moisture down to find an exit. The installation of the drainage system is made up of simple step procedures set by the building codes and standards. If any one of the step procedures is not followed, it may cause major problems. Such problems are mold, moisture damage, termites, or even structural damage. The only way to properly install a new drainage system in place of a faulty drainage system is to tear down the existing (to the substrate) from the bottom of any starting point (i.e. at grade, above a roof line, above a deck or porch) to the top where the drainage system would end (i.e. soffit areas, under decks) and then reinstall the drainage system by following the procedures set in place.
If homeowners aren’t seeing direct water infiltration in their home (i.e. windows, doors, basements, floors, ceilings, or the stucco buckling and pulling away from the wall) the other most common cause to homeowners realizing that they have a stucco issue is that there was an inspection performed where moisture content readings were taken of the sheathing. Just because the windows aren’t leaking on the inside of the house does not mean that the window is not leaking. If the rough opening of the window was not flashed properly, almost every time the window will leak to outside of the house. Unknowingly that a “stucco patch” or a “stucco repair” are one of the worst attempts to fix the problem, people are caught using these phrases almost every time. A stucco patch or repair is only and will ever only be an attempt to fix the problem. It is not a solution and will never be a solution. The only way to fix it properly and be able to guarantee the performed stucco remediation project is to reinstall a completely new drainage system.
There is no minimally invasive way to determine the cause of the failure without opening up the wall and knowing exactly how the system was installed. It could just be one contributing factor that’s causing the failure, or it could be multiple factors. Attempting a patch or a repair is like putting a Band-Aid that’s waiting to fall off. The repair might seem like a fix in that localized area where the suspected damage is, but if the system was not installed properly in the one area then it would only be a matter of time until another part of the system would fail. That means it’s time for another patch. Now the wall will start to look like a chessboard with all of these patches and repairs because for those who don’t know, a patch or repair can never match the existing texture or color unless given the right circumstances which are very rare.
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