Some of Stucco’s History
Although stucco buildings were especially prevalent in California, the Southwest and Florida, ostensibly because of their Spanish heritage, this period also spawned stucco-coated, revival-style buildings all over the United States and Canada. The popularity of stucco as a cheap and readily available material meant that, by the 1920s, it was used for an increasing variety of building types. Resort hotels, apartment buildings, private mansions and movie theaters, railroad stations, and even gas stations and tourist courts took advantage of the "romance" of period styles and adopted the stucco construction that had become synonymous with these styles.
"Plaster" an ancient Greek application term meaning "to Daub on" is used to describe interior plaster dating back to 500 BC. When it became popular to apply plaster on the exterior of structures the term "Stucco work", meaning exterior plaster, was developed to describe it as the interior products/materials would not withstand the elements. The first materials used at this time were either lime or mud/clay with straw and sand, until 1824 when Joseph Aspdin a bricklayer in Leeds, England, invented Portland cement by processing and cooking lime and clay together in his kitchen turned laboratory. Joseph named the product Portland cement because it resembled a stone quarried on the Isle of Portland off the British Coast.
For thousands of years the plasterer performed all phases of the work involved in producing the complete job and was regarded as an artist with the highest prestige of all the construction trades. The plasterer developed finished walls, ceilings, and in many cases floors. Later when Portland cement became available in many areas, the plasterer also became involved in the finishing of pavement, sidewalks and similar work. As the volume of work grew, a natural subdivision of the work developed and with the natural evolution of the trade certain specializations developed.
Certain plasterers became lathers and soon did nothing but apply lath (wood at the time). Later other plasterers stayed with the Portland cement part of the trade that was involved in laying concrete floors, sidewalks and roads. These men were then called masons. In this way three different trades developed from one because the various areas of skill became too complex for one man to successfully do all of them.
Stucco and EIFS (Exterior Insulating Finish Systems) are not created equally. Stucco is primarily cement based while EIFS consists of an acrylic (plastic) base.
EIFS was developed in Europe after World War II and was initially used to retrofit solid masonry walls. EIFS started to be used in North America in the 1960’s and became very popular in the mid-1970's due to the oil embargo and the resultant surge in interest in high energy efficiency wall systems (such as EIFS provides). In North America, EIFS were initially used exclusively on commercial buildings. As the market grew, prices dropped to the point where its use became widespread on normal single-family homes. The use of EIFS over stud-and-sheathing framing (instead of over solid walls) is a North American technique. EIFS is now used all over North America, as well as in many other areas around the world, especially in Europe and the Pacific Rim.
In the late 1980's problems began developing when attention to details was lacking in areas where water can penetrate the system (i.e. around windows and doors). The EIFS industry found that the EIFS itself was not leaking, but rather most problems where due to a lack of attention to details at the perimeter of the EIFS. In conjunction with the building codes, the EIFS industry developed drainage systems and mandated an independent EIFS inspection. The 2009 building code will incorporate EIFS drainage systems into prescriptive method construction and an independent inspection will no longer be necessary.
Test done by Oak Ridge National Labs in coordination with EIMA (EIFS Industry Manufacturing Association) have found EIFS to be superior among all exterior veneers including brick and stone. Oak Ridge National Laboratory states, "EIFS outperformed all other walls in terms of moisture while maintaining superior thermal performance."