Faux Stone Might Become The New EIFS - 2

By
Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC 3380-000723

Faux stone may become the new EIFS - 2*.  This is a follow-up to a previous post.

When I see a house with faux or cultured stone installed, I look around and point things out to the buyers. 

On my inspection report, I include language which looks something like this:

" Faux stone siding is found on this house and cannot be viewed except from outdoors and examining the wall structure underneath for damage or rot is not possible without destructive testing.  Improper faux stone installation can cause serious damage.

Specific problems noted with the visible components can include, but may not be limited to:

  • Weep screeds are missing at the base of the wood frame walls.
  • Weep screeds are missing at the tops of window and door openings.
  • There is no caulk between other materials and the masonry veneer at windows, doors, and adjacent trim.
  • The masonry veneer is in contact with the ground.
  • The masonry veneer is in contact with paved surfaces.
  • The masonry veneer is in contact with roofing materials.
  • Kick-out flashings are missing where roof eaves meet the masonry veneer.
  • Metal lath is visible between stones, indicating that the proper base coats of mortar were not applied prior to installation of the stone. "

Then I give a series of links to various sites which show "Best Practices"for faux stone installation.  Some of these sites have 3 and 4 dozen diagrams!  One shows installation videos.

There is great specificity for proper installation in various places, and necessarily.  Over windows, around doors, corners, at the base of the stone, etc., all need different ways of diverting water.

I also give links to the International Residency Code mentions for faux stone.  Virginia adopted the 2009 IRC code for this, and this was carried over into the 2012 code.  Again, there are reasons for this!  On home inspections I am not a code enforcer.  Nor do I pretend to know every code for everything in every application.  But I can help my clients learn how to find out!

For example, a "weep screed," mentioned above, is essentially a secondary flashing.  But it goes UNDER the stone and OVER what we would normally consider to be flashing!  It provides a way for water to get out, should it get in!  It prevents pooling of water over windows and doors, over any wood framing and at the BOTTOM of the stone work itself!

 

Examples of what was done on the problem house in question is shown here.

The left photo shows a corner.  Some mesh was nailed on, over the fiberboard and tar paper.  You can see that the faux stone was simply glued to the mesh!  There is no drainage at the bottom of the wall.

The photo on the right shows how water that had been getting in above and around windows and mortar cracks had accumulated at the bottom.  There was no drainage provided, a hole was left in the rim joist sheathing and that white tube on the right has an undetermined function.

These are just a couple of photos of what has happened in only 4 - 5 years.  This is a disaster!

Remember that the code is really a minimum standard.  It is a floor from which to work.  It is not the peak of hoped-for professionalism!  It is just a jurisdictional authority saying that they would like to see at least these particular standards met.  HAD THOSE MINIMAL STANDARDS BEEN MET ON THIS HOUSE, YOU WOULD NOT BE LOOKING AT THESE PHOTOS!

My recommendation:  Stay tuned, again!  There will be more.

* When I say EIFS (Exterior Insulated Finishing System), I am referring back many years to when the original "synthetic stucco" first came out.  It was problematic because it was not entirely understood how its installation, by essentially gluing it to a wood subsurface, would prevent any condensation from evaporating.  This accumulated condensation would cause rot and therefore molds.  Since those days the product has improved dramatically, with different materials in the product line, drainage techniques to allow condensation to dry and/or be eliminated, and helping to insulate exterior walls.  In home inspections, I refer to the newer products generically as "dryvit," or simply "stucco."

Faux and cultured stone, it seems to me, is in this comparably original stage as was EIFS, and most installers seem to have no idea what they are doing.  Of course water, in any intrusive or accumulated form, such as condensation, can enter and damage any house, regardless of the exterior skin, if ignorant, improper or unprofessional installation techniques have been employed.

 

 

Posted by

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


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Rainmaker
288,556
Tim Bradley
Contour Investment Properties - Jackson Hole, WY
Commercial Real Estate Expert in Jackson Hole, WY

I'll pass on the faux stone finishes. I like wood better anyway...

Mar 30, 2012 04:48 AM #28
Rainmaker
167,844
Reba Haas
Team Reba of RE/MAX Metro Eastside www.TeamReba.com - Bellevue, WA
Team Reba, CDPE

Given how many newer style homes have the faux stone on them, this is a timely and useful post! Thanks for putting it out there for us to learn from.

Mar 30, 2012 05:31 AM #29
Rainmaker
749,100
Jeff Pearl
RE/MAX Distinctive / LIC in VA - Lovettsville, VA
Full Service Full Time Realtor

Jay, I've seen a lot of this installed over the last 20 years or so, and you're correct, most of the problems are caused by improper installation. This stuff is great for covering block walls, poured concrete foundations, etc, but when it's used to cover wafer board, I've seen too many installers skimp on covering house with felt paper, not overlapping lathe, using too few nails to hold lathe, leaving huge joints between stones, incorect flashing, using wrong mortar, not using a skim coat,etc.

Mar 30, 2012 05:41 AM #30
Rainmaker
690,084
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Bottom line, you install anything incorrectly bad things are sure to happen. 

Mar 30, 2012 05:55 AM #31
Rainer
284,418
Steven Cook
No Longer Processing Mortgages. - Tacoma, WA

Jay - great pictures!  Too bad for this couple who were buying a home (with a proposed 50-100 year life span) and to see it falling apart around them within only 4-5 years.

Have a fantastic weekend!

Mar 30, 2012 06:41 AM #32
Rainmaker
579,727
Chris Smith
Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage - New Tecumseth, ON
South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta

Jay, thanks for illuminating a situation.  It is unfortunate that many homeowners are the guinea pigs as the industry discovers best practices by trial and error.

Mar 30, 2012 06:44 AM #33
Rainmaker
1,849,672
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Charlie - I agree.  That company should be ashamed.  Especially after giving a second estimate to do what they did the first time!

Lisa - in this case, they are getting much more than they paid for!

Richard - you are right, installation is the key.  Real stone is thicker and less permeable, but not flashed properly water gets behind it just as easily!

Lenn - I thought you had someone come out, look at it and make proper repairs.  If stones are still falling off it is installation, to be sure.

Ron - indoors and on foundation walls it works pretty well.  My indoor fireplace has faux stone.  Up now for over 10 years, no problems.

Mar 30, 2012 10:41 AM #34
Rainmaker
1,849,672
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Justin - that's because they probably are incorrect!  I like the look too.  But hey, why take the risk!?

John - installation, common sense and professionalism go a long way.

Thanks Keller Williams! I expect there will be more to share as things move along.

Jeffrey - I bet this stuff can cover a multitude of sins!

Morgan - that was just the start.  There is a lot more.

Mar 30, 2012 10:45 AM #35
Rainmaker
1,849,672
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Bonnie - I have seen whole walls pulling away from the house.  It's a big deal, to me anyway.

Thanks Rob.  I can tell you that the neighbors around this house are extremely interested!

Don - we have temperature extremes and very high humidity.  But water getting behind this is the damage maker!

Tim - wood works well!  Keep it stained or painted though!

You're welcome Reba.  This stuff is getting used more and more.

Mar 30, 2012 10:47 AM #36
Rainmaker
1,849,672
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Jeff - which is why so much is coming off from houses.  This is a problem caused by all you mention, and more.

Jim - right.  I've seen the bumper stickers!

Thanks Steven.  This is going to still be a problem for a while too!

Chris - these best practices have been out a long time.  Unfortunately, so has unprofessionalism!

Mar 30, 2012 10:51 AM #37
Ambassador
1,541,659
William Johnson
Retired - La Jolla, CA
Retired Real Estate Professional
Hi Jay an excellent post. Is the real issue with the faux stone product or the poor prep and installation?
Mar 30, 2012 01:31 PM #38
Rainmaker
1,849,672
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Any bad installation will probably screw up any product and therefore the house William.  But this is faux stone, key word FAUX.  Any time I see "man made" I am wary!

Mar 30, 2012 08:04 PM #39
Rainmaker
908,388
Pamela Seley
West Coast Realty Division - Murrieta, CA
Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA

Jay, this is an amazing post. I've always loved the look of the faux stone elevations from the newer construction homes, but this is a great warning to what could happen if improperly installed. One would hope builders would install properly, but definitely if owner-installed, need to look more closely. As we can see from your photos, water can cause horrendous damage to a home.

Mar 31, 2012 05:39 AM #40
Rainmaker
1,849,672
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Pamela - it demands strict adherence to proper installation techniques.  If not it is a disaster.

Mar 31, 2012 10:51 AM #41
Rainer
232,743
Pamela Smith
Award Realty - Sun City West, AZ
Sun City West, Corte Bella, Sun City Grand

I prefer real products. Again, water can do major damage.

Mar 31, 2012 11:31 PM #42
Rainmaker
1,849,672
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

It seems God made beats man made every time Pamela!  And water is THE killer of houses!

Mar 31, 2012 11:33 PM #43
Rainmaker
233,697
Reuben Saltzman
Structure Tech Home Inspections - Minneapolis, MN
Delivering the Unbiased Truth.

I've been seeing all of those installation defects in my area as well, and my reports probably read very similar to yours.  I also include a bunch of installation diagrams from the Adhered Concrete Masonry Veneer Manufacturer's Association.

Apr 02, 2012 12:14 PM #44
Rainmaker
233,697
Reuben Saltzman
Structure Tech Home Inspections - Minneapolis, MN
Delivering the Unbiased Truth.

That's the stuff, Jay.  That's the exact same document I use -  maybe that's why our comments look so similar :)

Apr 02, 2012 08:28 PM #46
Rainmaker
1,849,672
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Whoa!  I didn't know until just now that all that other junk was there!  And it won't let me delete it!

Apr 02, 2012 08:31 PM #47
Rainmaker
1,849,672
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

OK, it is a site called culturedstone dot com.  Scroll around until you get to the literature therein!

Apr 02, 2012 08:34 PM #48
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Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
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