This morning I noticed an article published in the Digital Journal that’s worth raising a couple questions to. The article was crafted by the Brick Industry Association (BIA) and was listed as a “…comparisons on home exteriors…”
The article is entitled, Fired Clay Brick Exteriors Prove Superior in Green Benefits, Performance; however, as you read on, you realize that one thing is true, you really can’t judge an article by its title. With the mention of Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems (EIFS) in the first paragraph, I had expected to see several comparisons between EIFS and brick. Apparently, I was wrong.
After reading through this entire article, I’m left looking at the list of clay brick benefits, wondering why they decided to leave EIFS out. A couple of the points made, without a doubt, need further clarification.
Comparison pieces are always interesting to me, because they provide the opportunity to see what competitors believe about your industry. We all spend time looking at these, so we can help fine tune our message. That is one of the reasons this article misses a beat with what it initial said it was going to do, instead giving pieces of information rather than the whole story. To start, I looked at the topics of “Natural materials” and “Locally sourced”, they read:
- Natural materials: Clay brick are available in thousands of permanent colors and shades that do not fade — unlike other competitors’ products. Clay brick does not off-gas volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or other toxic materials.
- Locally sourced: Raw materials on average are 15 miles away from the brick plant. Manufacturing facilities are located in 38 states and within 500 miles of 49 of the top 50 U.S. metro areas. After mining the useable clay, the stock-piled top soil is spread over the area and trees and other vegetation are replanted to reclaim the land for other uses.
I immediately have to wonder if these topics are both up to date. With advancements in paint pigments, that prevent coloring and fading, EIFS become more flexible than brick in the selection of “colors and shades”, representing a variety of colors and replicating a variety of finishes.
Photos represent the variety of appearances you have with EIFS.
When it comes to what is “Locally sourced”, I think the question has to be asked about how much energy it takes to actually create the brick; however, the real point I’d make is the cost and environmental impact of moving brick compared to EIFS. *Did you know, to move 25,000 square feet of material, EIFS requires 16 times less tractor trucks than brick?
For the many of you who have worked with, or at least know the benefits of EIFS, you’ve certainly heard energy efficiency listed toward the top. After realizing there is no reference to EIFS in the third bullet, “Thermal mass helps to lower energy use”, I did some research and found a comparative piece BIA issued a couple years back, which is referenced earlier in the article and states: “The rigid insulation board used as part of the EIFS system gives the wall added energy efficiency. EIFS have always been an energy efficiency alternative to other sidings, especially in retrofits.” We certainly could go further and discuss Continuous Insulation, but for now we’ll just use their words.
- Durability: Brick cladding usually performs well in high-wind events and generally does not require replacement immediately after the event. Testing has shown that brick veneer provides superior performance in moisture management. Brick offers a one-hour minimum fire resistance rating by itself, and exceeds the 34 mph impact resistance requirement for high velocity hurricane zones in the Florida building code.
The other bullet that caught me a little by surprise was the topic entitled “Durability”. I was surprised for several reasons including the reference to a 2010 research document to make a point. The reason this specific document is intriguing to use in making their point, is that EIMA responded to this document back in 2011, noting that EIFS was not even one of the tested materials in the study. Therefore, any conclusion that brick immediately trumps the performance of EIFS, has no backing whatsoever. On the contrary, EIMA, along with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Department of Energy just released Phase III of a study that validates the moisture and thermal performance of EIFS vs. brick. Both industries representing these exterior wall claddings certainly have similar documents, but the major difference here is that the Oak Ridge National Laboratory document included both exterior wall claddings.
After moisture performance, durability and high-winds are mentioned, specifically the Florida building codes. There have been several stories in the news lately, showing the performance of EIFS against these exact hurricane style winds, since EIFS also has passed and exceeded the Miami-Dade County Hurricane tests. Since the reference continues to “impact resistance”, here are some videos that help with this point.
Courtesy of BASF Wall Systems
Courtesy of Dryvit Systems, Inc.
The conclusion is, we should all ask more questions about the articles we’re reading, especially making sure they are up to date. Everyone has a study and a cool catch phrase that grabs our attention. It’s that gray area in between you really need to pay attention to.
*according to proprietary study done by the National Institute of Standards and Technology