EIFS and Flashing

Flashings aren’t an Exterior Insulation Finishing Systems component, nor are they made by the same manufacturer, but they are an essential part of many EIFS walls, especially where the EIFS meets other installations like windows and doors.

Flashings are necessary to redirect any water that comes in contact with the EIFS and ensure that it is carried away from the wall safely, and flashings are required by most building codes. Moisture intrusion is a threat to any wall cladding system, and flashings are not unique to EIFS. Various tapes and other sealants can also be used to prevent water intrusion issues with EIFS.

What is flashing?

Flashing is made of sheet metal and shaped using a cold-forming process. Flashing can be made out of stainless steel, galvanized steel, copper, aluminum or even lead and zinc on rare occasions. Flashing can also be made of certain types of plastic. Flashings are placed where EIFS terminates or meets something else, and they keep water away from the walls by directing it away from the system so it does not enter the EIFS wall when it sheds moisture.

What does flashing do?

Flashing reroutes any water that may come in contact with the wall and can be used in many places, such as where the EIFS meets the roof, where EIFS meets another wall cladding system, or where EIFS meets a window or porch. If placed at the base of an EIFS wall, the flashing should be shaped in such away that the water runs right off with a sloped drip edge so the water does not return into the wall via running back down the underside of the flashing. The design and installation methods of flashings used with any wall cladding are also important for keeping water out.

What about EIFS with drainage?

EIFS with drainage typically has a cavity carved into the foam or has been applied to the substrate using “ribbons” of adhesive that create channels for water to travel through. Usually the water will run straight out of the bottom, but in order for the water to be directed safely, a flashing can be incorporated into the bottom to carry the water where it needs to go, away from the EIFS wall. The flashing can be cut to fit the size of the area needed, for example on EIFS that is above a window sill, and the flashing will carry the water away from the EIFS face.

Custom-made flashings are also an option, but cavities in any custom-made flashings should be large enough to let water pass through, as well as created with the notion that small items or dirt can clog them in mind.

Installing flashing – be careful

Stucco incorporates flashing much easier than EIFS because it’s typically thicker and the flashing embeds better when it has something sturdy to attach to.

Flashing is an important component and should be installed as such. In some situations, extra care is needed when installing flashing. These situations are:

  • At parapet caps
  • At the top of a balcony wall
  • Vents or areas prone to movement/vibrations like decks made of wood
  • Where EIFS meets a roof
  • Where EIFS meets the head or sill of a window.

The flashing must also be installed completely through the EIFS, not only through the lamina as the lamina alone is not strong enough to support it. However, gypsum-based sheathing is not really strong enough either, and it’s what’s commonly used behind most EIFS. One option would be to place something, such as a piece of wood, within the insulating foam for the flashing to screw into, as one could typically do when attempting to affix anything to EIFS.

Many insurance companies and law firms around Canada will mention the complete lack of proper flashing or poorly installed flashing as a half-decent reason to begin litigation. Since the advent of the moisture intrusion problems being discovered with EIFS, many corporations that handle such cases are providing more and more information about inadequate EIFS jobs to the general public, one of the most prominent of which involves flashing or the lack thereof. Flashing has become much more common in EIFS jobs thanks to the general awareness of moisture problems, and it’s pivotal to ensure flashing is installed well to avoid any future water intrusion or leak issues.

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