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Dryvit vs Stucco

geoffhazel's picture

Pardon my complete ignorance on this, but someone asked me today "What's the difference between Dryvit and Stucco?" and I said something about "I think they're basically the same, Dryvit is a brand name Stucco."  but I'm not quite sure about the accuracy of that statement.  Can someone enlighten me on the differences? If you wanted a stucco look to a home, what would you recommend?

(post #102084, reply #1 of 23)

stucco is cemnt, sand and some lime. dryvit is basically a thick paint with sand

(post #102084, reply #2 of 23)

dryvit is a brandname of EIFS systems Exterior insulating finish systems.  They put on sheets of white styrofoam with screws that have big plastic heads (called windlocks) and then put on a rollout mesh and trowel a gray base coat over it, then finish it with the finish coat wish is latex, and like brownbagg said besically paint with sand in it.

Stucco is put on over wire mesh which is attached to the sheathing and felt paper, then the do a multiple coat system, some types 2 coats, some 3 coats and stucco is cement based

When in doubt, get a bigger hammer!
When in doubt, get a bigger hammer!

(post #102084, reply #8 of 23)

Around here they do a stucco-like finish directly on the foamboard, after scratching it -- no wire mesh.  Is that Dryvit or something else?

(This is mostly on commercial structures.)


If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy. --James Madison

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

(post #102084, reply #9 of 23)

It could well be Dryvit - they're putting it on my office building right now.  Sheets of foam fastened to the exterior walls with some sort of mastic, and the Dryvit is troweled over the top of that.

The goofy thing is this building got a coat of Dryvit about five years ago, and now they're going right over the top of that with this fresh coat.  The building was recently sold to a new management company, and they're trying to snazz it up so they can double our rent, I think.  I wonder if it will all peel off in big sheets in a year or two....

(post #102084, reply #3 of 23)

Stucco's also been around a lot longer (i.e., centuries). EIFS is relatively new in comparison.

They have a similar look and get confused a lot. Clients intermix the two all the time, similar to concrete and cement, wrought iron and steel, etc..

(post #102084, reply #4 of 23)

the problem with dryvit is, termite love to tunnel in the foam and you never know it.

(post #102084, reply #5 of 23)

termite love to tunnel in the foam and you never know it.

Termites forage looking for cellulose (wood, paper,etc) to eat. The type we have here can not live outside of a mud tunnel unless they are swarming,and they die within 24 hrs. of exposure to air if they can't find a new site to colonize.

Termite shields are good idea when using EIFS, as is specifying borate treated foam board, and a good soil pretreatment.

I have done termite repair work on cement base stucco homes, brick veneer, wood and vinyl siding more than EIFS homes. Most damage I have seen in EIFS clad homes is rot, mold and water damage from improper installation and flashing details, but the same thing can occur with stucco for the same reasons.

Dryvit and other synthetic stuccos are easier to damage than a good cement stucco. Both systems are equally hard to repair without reskiming or painting a whole wall to blend in the repaired part.

I understand that where you are, in the south, there is a much more voracious type of termite than we have, but termite damage in Dryvit is no greater than any other exterior system around here.




(post #102084, reply #6 of 23)

You don't see many EIFS installs in the Seattle area, but stucco with a "Drivit" finish is popular. Our contractor uses the Stuccoflex brand for his top coat.

(post #102084, reply #7 of 23)

I don't know if I missed a serious change in the attitude towards "Dryvit" or not, but around here, houses that have "Dryvit" siding just DON'T sell.  One sat on the market for literally years until the absentee landlord had it resided with clapboard.  It then sold within a month.

"Dryvit" has gained(?) a lousy reputation around here, due to lousy installations and resulting water damage to the underlying structures.  I'm told that homeowners insurance is a little tough to get if you have a "Dryvit" house.

While stucco had a better reputation than "Dryvit", even stucco houses are feeling the effect of "Dryvit's" problems and potential purchasers are looking askance at any house with the "Dryvit" look.



(post #102084, reply #12 of 23)

You have not filled in your member profile (shame!), however in Northern New Jersey/ NYC area, Dryvit has become a no-sell, just as you have described.

Same experience, a co-workers nice home in a great neighborhood sat for a year in the hottest market ever, and then sold in a month after being stripped and stucco'd for real.

...that's not a mistake, it's rustic

...that's not a mistake, it's rustic

(post #102084, reply #10 of 23)

You might want to check to see if person in question has insurance that will cover damage insurance associated with EIFS.  My general liability specifically excludes coverage of EIFS.  Some homeowners policies also exclude EIFS related damage.


(post #102084, reply #17 of 23)

Mine also... says so right on the introductory letter that comes with my renewal every year... no EIFS. As far as I know, Dryvit was the subject of some major lawsuits.

(post #102084, reply #11 of 23)

Traditional Stucco is a hardcoat system, usually felt, metal lath and

then the cement scratch and brown coats. That can be finished

with an elastomeric paint (to bridge cracks) or a troweled on finish with

texture. EIFS adds a layer of insulation which is encapsulated in the

cement basecoat with fiberglas mesh embedded. The cement is

polymer modified so that it can "flex". The finish coat is then troweled

over the surface. Most new systems include drainage to allow the

moisture out of the wall. Good flashing details are important.

Heres the flaw: Maintaining the caulk joints around windows and

doors. It doesn't happen. water gets in. At least the new

systems allow water out.  The added benefit of EIFS is the

extra insulation. I guess it depends on what part of the

country the house is if that is an advantage or not.

(post #102084, reply #13 of 23)

You hit the nail on the head in terms of maintaining sealant.  We're in the design stage right now for replaceing a 9 year old eifs job on a labopratory penthouse (8 stories up).  Nobody could maintain the caulk, and it's failing and leaking.  We're going back with an aluminum skin instead.

We've also had problems with the durability of the finish.  We have an apartment complex with lots of kids.  Read: Hocky sticks, baseballs, soccar balls, etc... It just can't hold up.  Even on commercial/retail you'll often see CMU or brick up a wall like 5' and then the eifs above that, because the stuff can get beat up and crappy pretty quick.

I'm a fan of real stucco, expecially the unpainted kind.  It seems like fairly maintenance free compared to wood siding

Ithaca, NY  "10 square miles, surrounded by reality"


(post #102084, reply #14 of 23)

Does anyone have any experience with something like dryvit or stuccoflex as a direct coating over CMUs? I have a project where we are taking down an old failing lime brick chimney and I'm wondering about rebuilding it with 4" CMUs with flush struck joints and then covering it with a thin textured color coat. I think dryvit makes a product specifically for direct application over CMUs and I would guess that others do as well. I trust my mason to do a nice flat job with the block laying.

But of course, just because someone makes a product for something doesn't mean it's a great idea. It does seem silly however to go through the work and expense of lathing and scratch/browning just to get a concrete surface over the top of a concrete surface.

(post #102084, reply #16 of 23)

We had a project for a convenience store (former laundromat) a little over a year ago that wanted a new look. The outside was a mix of old brick and concrete block (with various amounts of parging), and we proposed a monolithic look using an exterior stucco system. We specced something called Total Wall (, 1-888-702-9915) which had a product that could go on without any mesh or substrate.

Unfortunately the owner has yet to do anything with the building, but the technical people were very helpful.

(post #102084, reply #18 of 23)

I am interested in the answer to your question, too. Traditional stucco will telegraph the joints (due to the change in porosity) if applied in a single coat over a dead-flat CMU wall. My second coat, however, looked fine.

(My joints were only 1/8" thick, and puttied flat before the first coat of stucco. I laid the block with thinset before grouting it solid. Second coat of stucco was applied 5 years ago and still no telegraphing. A product that could do this in only one coat would be useful.)


(post #102084, reply #21 of 23)

Take a look at this, from Sto.

Looks to me as if you would do a coating of their primer, then two trowelled-on coats of the StoLastic.$file/fsd+212+stolastic.pdf


"A stripe is just as real as a dadgummed flower."

Gene Davis        1920-1985

(post #102084, reply #15 of 23)

"We've also had problems with the durability of the finish."

You may know this already (apologize if so), but there is a heavier mesh made just for vandalism and abuse. It costs more, but if it's used for the first 6'-0" or so, then you can go to the regular mesh.

doesn't help with graffiti unfortunately . . .

(post #102084, reply #20 of 23)

guys always want to match color and use urethane.

silicone will last for 20 years! just a little more in

upfront cost.....


(post #102084, reply #22 of 23)

Either product won't last as long as I need it to. 

There's an alarming trend where designers rely on sealant to keep a building envelope watertight; instead of building with tried and true flash/counterflash methods.  Even on $450/sqr' research facilities.  I'm at a university, and we keep our buildings for centuries, not decades. 

It's not the Architechts' fault necessarily....most of the rest of the world wants lowest upfront cost, so that's what they deliver.  I however, need the lowest life-cycle cost, and having to re-caulk a big building every 10 years doesn't compute in the long run.



Ithaca, NY  "10 square miles, surrounded by reality"


(post #102084, reply #19 of 23)

I learned the general terms as soft coat stucco; referring to the Dryvit on mesh over foam system others have elaborated on, and the hard coat stucco; referring to the sand/cement system that is traditional. In this area Dryvit or Synergy, or others like that are also used as a topcoat on hard coat stucco. It needs to be sealed to be durable over the temperature and humidity range. Cement based paints with high tung oil contenthave been successful for years, but are very expensive and not durable until fully cured. Dryvit  is an economical and popular alternative.

In either case, as many have stated, the quality of the flashing and caulking is crucial. The homeowner maintaining the finish on the window frames becomes very important as the finishes wear.

Totally agree with you. (post #102084, reply #23 of 23)

Totally agree with you.