Attaching components to EIFS
Exterior Insulating Finishing Systems are not supporting materials. Yes, they are effectively resistant and can withstand the elements, some inclement weather as well as wind and rain, but they are not designed to have things hanging off of them or nailed into them. That said, there are many situations that can arise where something seemingly and absolutely must be incorporated into the EIFS in such a fashion. However, many problems that tend to get blamed on the EIFS itself can often be truly attributed to other sources, a main one being things attached to the EIFS. It is important, that when attaching anything to EIFS, certain precautions are taken and that all avenues are looked into first.
Attaching objects to EIFS
While EIFS is definitely not designed to have things attached to it, there are ways one could incorporate external elements, either functional or decorative, successfully.
The only ways to effectively attach something to EIDS include adhesion, attaching it through the EIFS and onto the supporting wall, or to push something strong into the foam insulation and attach the object to that, all of which can be messy chores or end up causing problems if not done carefully.
EIFS is attached to the supporting wall, which is obviously a strong material. Therefore, it is a much wiser choice to attach components, such as light fixtures, railings and downspouts to this supporting wall instead. Especially heavy objects should not be affixed directly to the EIFS either, and a stud should be used to attach the component to the supporting wall, through the EIFS. However, some kind of material should be placed between the lamina and substrate to ensure that the EIFS doesn’t get squished when this bolt is tightened. Such materials can include wood, metal or plastic pieces or spacers that can be put directly into the foam insulation, and should be sealed effectively to prevent water intrusion. If the object being attached to the EIFS is very heavy, a bracket should be installed into the wall near the EIFS.
If the object in question is relatively light in weight, it can instead be adhered to the surface of the lamina easily. This is a much better solution as there is no risk of leaking and no difficult technical work is usually involved. This adhesive, however, must be water resistant and structural grade. If it is not, the object may eventually fall off when water gets behind it. In Ontario, the water will also get behind the object and freeze, leading to future issues.
Consult the manufacturer
Anytime that a material is attached to EIFS, care should be taken to ensure that the attachment is as watertight as possible, as puncturing the EIFS will only lessen its water-resistant capabilities. The same holds true to any EIFS with drainage, as the drainage properties can be affected. EIFS is not the same as other wall claddings in this regard, as it is a functional product and is not only there for aesthetic value. Making sure that the functionality of the system is not compromised in any way is the key to success when attaching objects to EIFS.
Often, as the manufacturer is the one who knows their EIFS better than anyone, they will be able to provide you with recommendations or even diagrams and instructions with regards to attaching objects to their EIFS, as well as offer adhesives made for their own systems if required. Consulting with the manufacturer prior to attempting to attach anything to the EIFS can ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible.