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BBA Architects on Oct 28, 2022

At BBA Architects, we know that building technology and the construction industry is in a constant state of transformation. We strive to keep our architectural staff updated on best practices for specifying and installing critical systems. So, with that in mind, we recently took the entire BBA Architects staff to two current project job sites and invited industry experts to review the proper design and installation of stucco systems as well as share details about window installations.

Exterior stucco systems have two common varieties:

  1. Traditional, Three Coat Portland Cement Stucco
  2. Synthetic Stucco, called EIFS (Exterior Insulation Finish System), originally known as Dryvit.

Both of these systems can yield a high quality, durable, and rich exterior envelope. Both have advantages. A traditional stucco system has a total thickness of nearly one inch and has a variety of hand or machine assisted finish textures.

Synthetic stucco installation, or EIFS, offers advantages when in compliance with ever-increasing energy code standards. The synthetic system is applied over a two-inch-thick layer of high-density insulation board. There have been issues with the synthetic stucco installation going back to the 1980’s when the product became available under the brand name Dryvit. Since that time, industry leaders and the Sto Corporation have developed a deep library of verified installation details that, when followed properly, provides a safe and effective system.

Few building products have been studied or refined as much as what is now typically referred to as the EIFS system. The key to this system is properly flashing top edges, window openings, and providing a drainage layer behind the installation that prevents water or vapor from being trapped within the system. Both systems, traditional and EIFS, also require the thoughtful installation of control joints to avoid cracking that can occur with normal building thermal movement.

Eric Mazur, President of Continental Wall Systems, presented us with detailed aspects of both Sto systems and how to achieve the best installation. We also reviewed the range of color and texture options available from Sto.

Another important topic we wanted to cover with our very talented but young staff, was the elements of window design and specification, as well as installation techniques. We coordinated a field visit to a home under construction (#bbaModernMediterranean) where the window installation process was underway, allowing us to clearly see the techniques being employed.

For the window portion of our program, we asked Eric Miller, a sales and technical representative from the Jeld-Wen Window & Door Company, to discuss the nuances of the product and manufacturer installation instructions that are most important for architects and contract crews to understand.

Eric’s Jeld-Wen presentation primarily focused on how the product sheds water and how an opening should be properly detailed so that water is directed out of the building and prevented from finding a way back in. Eric has witnessed numerous water infiltration tests and was able to explain the behavior of the product in various weather conditions.

All of these detail considerations have visual implications for both the building interior, as well as the exterior. We continued our conversation outside, where we discussed exterior molding options, sill options, and how to correctly detail the product for various exterior materials such as brick, stucco, or siding.

We love being able to take our entire team on-site to a project where they can see and learn first-hand how designs and materials impact a building project. Drawing these details on a computer can feel very disconnected without having practical field experience and observing how the construction professionals use the documentation we provide. We were pleased with the quality of the information and the experience we had. Everyone walked away having gained a better perspective and understanding of the installation practices that are critical to a building project.

We look forward to initiating more of these learning opportunities going forward. We want our team of professionals to be ever growing and learning and for our clients to be confident in our highly knowledgeable staff of expert architects. Every day we’re building on our skills to make your projects stand out.