EIFS Cracking Due to Lack of Mesh

Exterior Insulation Finish Systems incorporate a coated fibreglass mesh designed to allow flexibility due to expansion and contraction, and prevent the base coat and finish coat from cracking. In situations where the base coat and finish coat crack, water is able to get into wall system where it can and will go through freeze/thaw cycles – which over time, cause further deterioration of the EIFS. This mesh needs to be applied where ever there is a penetration or break in the EIFS, and over the entire surface of the insulation. In the image below it is apparent where the contractor decided not to apply the mesh, to save the “hassle” of cutting a small section where the soffit is.

You can clearly see the edges of the full 2′ x 4′ insulation board used in EIFS due to the fissuring of the base coat and finish coat over just a few years. Without the mesh to deal with the stresses and maintain the integrity of the coating, the base coat and finish coat have both cracked. While the location (a small corner of a soffit) is not likely to cause massive damage to the building because of moisture having a means of ingress, it’s both an eyesore and a potential problem nonetheless.

What was done correctly on the project was incorporating the drip edge. By extending the EIFS that makes up the wall slightly below the soffit, any water that runs down the wall is forced to fall to the ground instead of running along the underside of the soffit due to surface tension. This leads one to believe that the building was properly designed by the architect, and the fault of the improper installation lies on the contractor. Because this is just one building in a large commercial complex surrounding one of Toronto’s largest malls, one wonders if the other buildings suffer the same lack of proper care.

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