Aesthetic Problems with EIFS

Sometimes, your kids will decide to wait until the new Exterior Insulation Finishing System is freshly clad before carelessly shooting an official NHL hockey puck directly at it, leaving a dent. The EIFS is then patched up and back to full-strength, but something is “off” where the original dent was. Is it the light? The colour? The texture? Killing the future NHLer will not fix your problems, however.

The following is a list of aesthetics-related issues that can be found on EIFS especially after repairs are made to the lamina. When a minor section of the EIFS is repaired, it may result in an off-look or feel when compared to the rest of the wall. It is important to note that there are no set guidelines regarding these issues as they do not impact the function or structural integrity of EIFS. They can be fixed at your discretion if it is of your opinion that they need to be.

Judging the aesthetics of EIFS

The time of day and seasonal lighting have a large impact on outdoor conditions, and light can also be reflected by nearby objects. This might end up making some areas look off-colour or a bit different than the surrounding EIFS when in fact, they are one and the same. In order to gauge if your perception of the EIFS colour and texture is correct, take a look at it during different times of the day, and have others look at it with you if possible.

Always determine in advance and in different lighting conditions which sections of the EIFS will need to be repaired or updated before you begin.


A difference in texture may be the problem you’re really seeing, even if it looks like a difference in colour. The texture issue may be corrected easily if you simply fill in the textured area with a non-cementitious adhesive base coat and further go over that layer with a new finish, which will be applied easier once the base coat fills in all of the spaces left by the original texture. The original textured finish cannot be removed without causing heavy damage to the base coat, which will make your problems that much worse.


If the finished colour of an EIFS project did not turn out as expected, or the repaired area is a much different colour than the rest of the project, painting over the finish is one of the better ways to change the colour into something more desirable or match the existing EIFS. Many EIFS manufacturers will make a paint-version of the finish that is safe to use on the particular finish coat of their EIFS. Even is this is not an option, you can make your own by straining the aggregate out of any leftover or extra top coat and using the smooth leftovers as paint.

If none of these options are available, a water-based latex paint or exterior acrylic paint may be safe to use.

Cautions to take when painting EIFS

  1. Using other paints: Avoid using any non-EIFS-specified paints that may contain solvents, which will go right through the finish and dissolve the expanded polystyrene foam underneath. Always ensure the paint that you’re using will not cause harm to the EIFS or is specifically intended for this purpose.
  2. Cleaning: Many times the surface must be adequately cleaned before painting over it. These situations usually arise when painting to match the finish of a much older EIFS-clad building. Sandblasting or using a power washer on a high setting can ruin the existing finish and hit areas you didn’t intend to. A power washer may be used on a low setting, but soap and water or a mild detergent applied with a scrubby brush should clean the surface satisfactorily. If oil has gotten on the finish, it will prevent the proper bonding of any future paint, and special care should be taken to remove any oil or grease thoroughly.
  3. High vapour-resistant paint: The trickiest part of painting over EIFS is the creation of a vapour barrier, where moisture cannot leave the EIFS because its breathability is significantly lessened. Any moisture from within the supporting wall is then trapped, which can result in a myriad of problems down the road – mould, rot, or the lamina coming off completely when condensation freezes. Use a vapour-permeable paint.
  4. Light or dark: Expanded polystyrene foam has a low melting point, which is about 165┬░F. Imagine going from a light-coloured EIFS to a very dark-coloured one. Paired with a clear sky and bright sun, this can mean very bad things for your darker, light-absorbing EIFS. Even Ontario receives hot mid-day sun, and all climates can be vulnerable.

Some things to keep in mind when painting over EIFS

  • If you match your new EIFS paint to the old colour, they will still age differently and eventually you may find yourself with two different colours yet again.
  • Caution should also be taken in painting over sealant, because depending on the paint, it may not stick and could chip off if the sealant shifts or expands.
  • A sponge roller is the best tool to use when painting over the textured EIFS finish. It will reach every nook to appropriately fill in the finish and will not result in paint in unintended areas like spray could.

Whatever choice you make in fixing the aesthetic problems of your EIFS, doing a “patch test” – testing a small, hidden area first and waiting to see how that turns out – will prevent you from doing the wrong thing too quickly everywhere else, and you’ll be able to properly gauge how it looks before you tackle larger, more visible areas.

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