facade design materials2
Exterior insulation and finish system (EIFS) is a veneer system that insulates and can achieve a wide variety of looks. Many people recognize this product as stucco. This material has been developed to replicate other materials in appearance. A lay-person may not be able to detect if they are looking at EIFS or stone. There are EIFS systems that even replicate brick and metal panels. The system generically consists of a rigid insulation board adhered to back-up wall construction with a sprayed-on, or troweled-on, finish system. Since the material is applied as a liquid, architectural expression with details is easily achieved by carving the rigid insulation as desired. It is also very lightweight compared to other façade systems and can be used without much need for support. EIFS is the most economical system per square foot with the insulation performance it provides.
The downside of EIFS is its durability. The EIFS shell over rigid insulation is thin and can be damaged easily. A puncture can occur from a flying rock from a lawnmower. Colors can sometimes fade or the surface can stain and get dirty over time. Due to these characteristics, we often use EIFS at higher parts of a building to keep it protected.
4. Cementitious (Fiber-Cement) Siding
We use this system on our residential projects or other projects where it may seem appropriate. Cementitious siding is becoming more and more prevalent in commercial buildings, and there are many manufacturers (James Hardie e.g.) of this type of material. The material is most comparable to wood lap siding, although it is also available as panels and panels made to look like lap siding or shakes. This façade systems hold up well under the elements and doesn’t require much maintenance. It is available pre-finished or can be field-painted. It is relatively lightweight compared to masonry, but detailing this material with continuous insulation can be challenging. Cost wise, it is comparable to EIFS and would provide more durability. However, insulation needs to be considered.
5. Precast concrete
Occasionally, precast panels will be used as a façade system. These panels offer several benefits for a project. They provide an entire wall and structural system, and they can be effective when dealing with tight construction schedules. There are many options with precast concrete panels as far as appearance goes. But to make it competitive to other wall systems, we find it best to maintain consistent sizes and limited detailing. If there are many panels sizes or irregularities between panels, cost is added. The panels are built in a factory, delivered, and installed onsite. They are held in place with braces until the roof structure is in place. Erection time is very quick, but the lead time can be over 6 months to have panels fabricated. This needs to be evaluated closely to determine if it will benefit a project more when compared to other systems.