All of this equipment and supplies would be familiar to an Exterior Insulation Finish Systems contractor, however a home owner looking to do their own shed or garage might not realize they need many of the tools required. While we do not recommend EIFS as a DIY project, we would still like to be a resource for the home owners who have a difficult time finding the information. Some typical tools required include:
- EIFS Materials
- Mouldings and Trim
- Clean, potable water
- A power mixing tool and power extension cord
- Trowels and finish-coat float
- Hot Knife
- Scaffolding and polyethylene
- Safety Equipment (gloves, eyewear, hardhat, steeltoe shoes, respiratory mask)
We won’t get into the procedures and techniques in this article, but will touch on the various tools and equipment required.
The EIFS materials are the basics of the supplies. Typical providers of stucco in Toronto include Durabond and Durock, depending on what part of the city you’re from. Both companies supply high quality, reliable material that if properly installed will last decades.
The materials will cost you roughly $4 per square foot, but will not come with a warranty unless installed by a skilled applicator. While an experienced contractor might take a week to complete 1,000 square feet, you can expect to take a month or two to learn the basics and complete the installation.
Mouldings and Window Trim
When renovating a home or a smaller building (such as a shed or detached garage), you have the opportunity to not only drastically change the look with the EIFS material, but also with decorative items. There are multiple suppliers of varying quality in Toronto who manufacture trim and mouldings specifically for EIFS. These mouldings are manufactured from the same components as the wall itself – styrofoam, fibreglass mesh and base coat. Because of this, they are light weight, attractive, affordable and most importantly durable. Unlike wood trim which will rot and degrade over time, the stucco trim is made from inorganic composite materials which means that they do not support organic growth.
Moulding and trim will cost around $30-$40 per 8-foot piece from a supplier such as Decoramould Exterior Mouldings. The average window will cost anywhere from $60-$100 in material, and 8-foot stacks of quoins for the corners of your walls will run you around the same price.
Clean, Potable Water
The water is simple to acquire if you’re working on your own home. It will be used for the adhesive/basecoat, floating the finish coat and for cleaning your tools.
The cost likely won’t even be noticed on your water bill.
Power Mixing tool and Extension Cord
A power mixing tool will be required to mix the basecoat and the finish coat if it has been sitting for too long. Because you’re mixing cement, a regular drill will not be up to the task. A heavy duty drill is required to effectively mix and not burn out the motor.
Heavy Duty Drills will run about $200 brand new, or can sometimes be found at re-use hardware stores. A favourite brand of our applicators is Makita. While the re-used ones might not be reliable in the long term, you should be able to get your money out of it and complete your job. Alternatively, you could rent one from Home Depot, but be wary about the project taking longer than you expected.
Trowels, Rasps and Finish Float
Trowels are the tools of the EIFS / stucco trade. They are used to scoop the supplies and plaster them onto the wall. A little bit of experience is required as far as the technique goes and you may want to start on a less-noticeable area of your project until you get the jist of it. Expect a lot of the material to fall off the sides until you get used to dealing with the viscous material.
Rasps are large tools used to sand or “rasp” the styrofoam. Rasping is required to ensure the walls are smooth so that odd shadows are not created. It creates a LOT of tiny bits of styrofoam, that will spread all over your property as well as your neighbours. It might be a good idea to purchase or rent a small portable vac to do cleanups after rasping.
The finish float is not the same as the steel trowel – it is typically made of plastic and has a more textured face to it. Many contractors work in pairs – with one picking the finish coat up with a steel trowel and globbing it onto the wall, while the more experienced contractor smooths it to cover the surface with the desired texture. How to smooth the material and the installation is beyond the scope of this article, but if at any point you are willing to pay an expert to do a part of the installation, let it be the finish coat. Aside from being the most expense component of an EIF system, it is also the one that affects the final appearance the most.
Trowels run between $20-$30 from the hardware store or a specialty supply store. Rasps will cost $60-$80 and can only be found from the specialty suppliers. You should be able to pick these up from the EIFS supplier themselves.
A hot knife is a tool used to cut clean lines into styrofoam. It will be required if you’re doing a 2 storey home, or if you have particularly long walls. Hot knives are used to cut control joints into the insulation to prevent the wall from cracking in the wrong location. More information can be found in our article on Hot Knives.
These could possibly be rented, but the author has never seen a place that has them for rent. A hot knife will be around $200 to purchase brand new.
Scaffolding and Polyethylene
How are you going to reach your bungalow/garage soffit, or the top of the wall on your 2-storey home? You weren’t planning on using a ladder were you? Leaning a ladder on styrofoam will damage it, even with the fibreglass mesh and base coat already on. Scaffolding or a lift of some sort (whether it’s an all-terrain scissor lift, or a boom lift) will be required to get at those high places. Either of these are typically rented, and a home owner would likely be safer going with scaffolding.
Polyethylene is thin sheets of plastic. Large quantities are required to cover windows, vegetation/landscaping and even to protect materials.
Scaffolding rental would cost about $100/week from a place like Stevenson’s Rental for the quantity required to do your home yourself. Be careful about getting EIFS materials caked on it, as the rental location might charge you for cleaning it. An enormous role of polyethylene will cost about $20 and last you the entire project.
While it goes without saying that you should take all possible precautions when working with liquid materials, many people take this aspect lightly. I won’t lecture, just say to be cautious. Pails of finish coat that have been sitting around for a while might have gases trapped under the lid that could make you nautious. When pouring the dry cement into a bucket of water to be mixed, a lot of the powder will billow up like smoke. Aside from having the inside of your lungs encased in cement being a bad idea, there are tiny fibers and acrylics in the basecoat (that help the durability once on the wall) that can also cause problems. Even without inhaling, cement itself is a corrosive material, that will irritate skin and cause serious damage to eyes and membranes.
All together, an investment of about $100 will protect your health and keep you from visiting the hospital. WHMIS labels/documents should nonetheless be read and be on-hand.
While you might be saving yourself hard-cash going out of your pocket to pay for labour, the tiny expenses required to complete a DIY EIFS project add up to a not-so-tiny amount. Depending on the size of your project, it can actually turn out to be cheaper to hire someone who has all the necessary tools and equipment to do the work for you. It will without a doubt however, take much longer (and more frustration) to do it yourself than to hire someone, but can be a rewarding experience.
Are you considering or have you done your own stucco renovation? If so, please feel free to share your experience here!