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Installing Stone Veneer over an EIFS system

Norstone stone veneer products get architecturally specified on a lot of commercial projects and as a result, we get to work with architects and lots of different building systems and techniques. A question we get fairly frequently is how a stone veneer product can be installed over an EIFS system, so we decided to take a look at what EIFS systems are in this week’s blog and answer the question about how stone veneer can be installed over an EIFS system.

EIFS stands for Exterior Insulation and Finish System and is basically a building system aimed at creating well insulated, water resistant exterior envelope on a building. A typical EIFS installation on wooden stud construction would include a water resistive barrier over sheathing, a drainage plane and EPS foam as the main insulating factor. Various types of top coats can then be added to the EPS to create finish exterior surfaces such as stucco.

EIFS Layer by Layer Detail Diagram showing each layer of an EIFS System in order of installation

The general theory of EIFS systems have been around for close to 50 years in North America, but as with most new technologies suffered from a lack of knowledge about the benefits and a lack of product knowledge on the part of the early adopters. As such, EIFS systems got a bad rap, especially as it related to handling moisture as it penetrated through the system. Over the past two decades or so, the drainage plans set behind the insulating foam have gotten much better and have eliminated the moisture problems that dogged these systems in their early days.

EIFS system being installed on a commercial building for thermal efficiency

The reason EIFS is so popular today is that it offers superior thermal benefits when compared to other exterior envelope building systems and can contribute to LEED accreditations in commercial projects as well. With the cost of energy continuing to rise, EIFS systems play an important role in creating buildings that are more efficient than ever in terms of staying cool in the summer and keeping warm in the winter.

Stone veneer installed over an EIFS system on a residential project with stucco above the stone

Now that we know what makes EIFS such an attractive building method, particularly for commercial construction, let’s tie it back to Norstone and answer the question how can stone veneer be installed over an EIFS system. Unlike stucco or other lightweight troweled on systems, natural stone veneer cannot be directly adhered to the foam insulation of an EIFS system. Instead, a cementious substrate needs to be prepared over the foam insulation that the stone can properly adhere to. Two common substrates that work in this build out are cement board and a metal lathe + scratch coat. Both of these can be mechanically fastened back to the wall studs, creating a perfect substrate that a stone veneer product can be adhered to.

Stone veneer installed over an EIFS System on a commercial restaurant project with stucco above the stone

Many commercial buildings employ a design feature where higher quality cladding products like natural stone veneer are used on the first floor or as wainscoat around the base of the building and less expensive cladding systems like stucco are used above that. EIFS system, where the thickness of the foam can often be varied within an installation allow for a continuous installation of the thermal system to be installed over the entire exterior of the building while varying what the final wall covering will be, allowing architects, designers, and builders to create more than just stucco boxes when designing high thermal efficiency buildings.

Thanks for learning more about the exciting world of EIFS systems and how stone veneer products can be installed in conjunction with these high efficiency thermal systems. The team at Norstone has a wealth of industry experience and knowledge about all things having to do with stone veneer installations, both residentially and commercially. Contact us today with your questions and to learn more about our world class natural stone veneer products.

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Norstone's New Dimensions in Natural Stone blog aims to discuss design themes, sources of inspiration, and how the world around us influences our creative interpretation and buying preferences.

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