Replacing Cladding is The Best Bang For Your Buck

Remodeling Magazine surveys thousands of renovations and home sales each year to discover which renovation is currently giving the best value for your dollar (or “cost recoup”) using real world data, in it’s Cost vs. Value Report. Sitting again at the number one over-all position with a whopping 86.7% return on investment is Fiber-Cement Siding Replacement. Coming in second (for it’s category) at 80.4% is foam-backed vinyl siding.

This information is simultaneously beneficial and flawed for the purposes of EIFS / stucco. While the cementitious base-coat layer of EIFS is indeed “fiber-cement”, the actual product they are referring to is more than likely a solid-cement factory-made siding (such as Hardie Board), which has become popular due to it’s ability to withstand hurricane-force winds and debris. The problems James Hardie siding is currently dealing with (and that EIFS has long since corrected) is how to allow moisture to drain out that becomes trapped behind the siding (take a look at the hall of shame for an idea of what I’m talking about). I suspect that in the coming years the problems will begin to surface more frequently and it’s high value will drop some.

Then there’s the issue of geography. This information is based on data from the United States, not Canada. It is averaged over many different climates, not solely a cold-climate such as the one we have in Toronto. This means that energy efficiency renovations such as exterior insulation, or replacing a water heater, won’t have the same impact as they would have in Canada. On top of that, Toronto is by all rights the largest consumer of EIFS in North America – Canada and the U.S.A. While it’s not as popular in some of the states because of it’s history with lawsuits, that problem has been largely avoided here in Toronto using a different type of EIFS: Dual-Barrier.

Nevertheless, it shows that re-cladding your home is the sure-fire way of getting the most bang for your buck when it comes to home renovations. Factoring in the advantage of lowered heating bills in our climate due to the exterior insulation, and the superior aesthetic of EIFS to Hardiboard (and vinyl siding by a landslide), I feel confident in saying that EIFS renovations actually increase the value of a home beyond what a home owner pays for it. As much as 110-120%. Being that there is no data to back this up however, I’ll limit my claims to the next closest thing — the fiber-cement siding 86.7% ROI from Remodeling Magazine.

Update: The 2010 Cost vs Value Report can be found here

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  1. Customer

     /  May 19, 2010

    EIFS is very poor quality siding, and often has to be replaced within 5 years, because water seeps in around window and door frames. I have to replace all of mine, so I want to forewarn anyone who reads this article.

  2. Jim

     /  May 20, 2010

    Hey… Anonymous?
    This is a common misconception about EIFS, which we here at are working on correcting. The quality of the material that ends up on your home depends on the quality of the components, and the quality of the installer.
    From a material stand point, the components builders and home owners can use to create an “EIFS” system can be compared to the components that go into a car. If the end-user forces the builder into using the cheapest components, you will get a system that will last 5 years. If you use the proper components, the materials themselves can last decades. It’s similar to building an F1 car – if you use a ’95 Honda Civic, you won’t get the same results as a hand-crafted Ferrari.
    Likewise, going with the cheapest installer won’t get you the same results as a genuinely skilled tradesman. Think of it as selecting a highschool shop-class student to rebuild your car’s transmission. It may get done, and it will be less expensive, but you’re gambling with the end-result.

  3. Admin

     /  May 20, 2010

    I don’t know whether it was the builder’s fault in your case for going with a cheap contractor who obviously did not include the proper components, or whether you – like most home owners – went with the cheapest stucco applicator you could find and are now a living testament to what this blog is against.
    For reference, you will want to ensure you have blueskin around your windows (see article: and proper flashing above windows and doors (upcoming article).
    Caulking and backer rod needs to be applied between the EIFS base coat and the window/door frames – something not always done – and inspected every year or two – again, something not done, or even mentioned by most contractors.

    There are still more things to consider to well protect your home from water intrusions, which is why I would recommend that everyone sign up for the “Home Owner Education E-mail Series” or request a quote from us so that we can guide you through the process, if you’re looking at having EIFS done in Toronto.

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