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Faux Stone Might Become The New EIFS - 2

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.

 

 

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


Comment balloon 47 commentsJay Markanich • March 30 2012 02:47AM

Comments

It is hard to believe that that level of damage was caused in 4-5 years.  We will definitely stay tuned!

Posted by Kathryn Maguire, Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach (GreatNorfolkHomes.com (757) 560-0881) over 7 years ago

A lot of it is covered with the tarp Kathryn.  But the contractor says he has photos and will share them with me.  These photos are mine, when I peeked.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Morning Jay can we say nasty and not a good job?  From what I've read sounds like attorneys may get involved.  Enjoy the day sir

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty) over 7 years ago

Aw Jay, I always liked Faux stone siding homes.  Now I'll always be afraid to buy one! lol

Posted by Bob Miller, The Ocala Dream Team (Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty) over 7 years ago

Of late, have not seen this...the more we see of artificial stucco...the more we see problems....Application is key with any product and it seems contractors jump on the new product band wagon without finding out HOW to jump.

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 7 years ago

So Coach, the moral of the story is don't give the woman paste, only a diamond will hold up to time.

Posted by Erv Fleishman, Luxury Prop Specialist Realty Associates (Realty Associates) over 7 years ago

So far James, I understand, attorneys have begged off.  They will get advocacy somehow.

Bob - they would be okay properly done!  THAT is the rub!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Very often products become the new fad, just like asbestos, untill we figure out that how bad it really can be. I have purchased two properties to flip in the past with faux stone. In both cases, we stripped it off and put on new siding.

Posted by Joe Petrowsky, Your Mortgage Consultant for Life (Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709) over 7 years ago

That is true S&D.  The other side of it is that builders or subs, in the interest of money, sometimes employ people without specific skills, thinking that gluing on stucco, or fitting stones into spaces, is not work that demands understanding beyond the simple application.  Obviously much more is involved and much more knowledge is needed.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Not bad Erv!  You are definitely thinking outside the box!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

That was a ton of work Joe!  But in the end, all you had to do was wrap with Tyvek or something and hand some siding.  Why would you be so proactive as to remove stone?  Was there evidence of damage or was there damage once removed?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Ouch!  That's going to cost somebody.  I'm always amazed when things are done poorly like this.  It takes the same amount of time to do it properly.  Yikes!

Posted by Mike Cooper, GRI, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro (Cornerstone Business Group Inc) over 7 years ago

Good morning Jay,

I am a snob when it comes to materials, too many "faux" products hit the market with a bang and leave with a whimper...great 2-part series on what to look for in faux stone installations.

Posted by Lisa Von Domek, ....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless! (Lisa Von Domek Team) over 7 years ago

Great information and as always, a picture says a thousand words...show someone damage like that and they'll be appropriately wary for sure. I just don't understand how anyone can do such a poor job installing/building with such poor workmanship and look in the mirror and like what they see. It's a crime, and when such things are uncovered legal action should be taken. In this day and age with word of mouth being so easily spread (and photos shared) in social media, it's my hope that folks who do work like this get their just desserts. They don't deserve to be in business.

Posted by Charlie Dresen, Steamboat Springs, CO e-Pro (Steamboat Sotheby's International Realty) over 7 years ago

Great reminder Jay, faux is cheaper - but you get what you pay for!

Posted by Lisa Von Domek, ....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless! (Lisa Von Domek Team) over 7 years ago

Jay...

But isn't the same thing true for real stone veneer> It's not the product, it's the installation, Exterior product installers must strictly follow the manufacturer's guidelines.

Posted by Richard Weisser, Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional (Richard Weisser Realty) over 7 years ago

Mike - it is costing this couple!  They have had no relief.  To date anyway.

Lisa - we are a faux people.  I think it is trying to get something for nothing.  Faux stone is so much cheaper than real stone.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

HA!  I have a lot of this stuff on my home.  I've already had to reapply about 10 "stones".

Now I'm just waiting for the rest to just deteriorate and fall off.

 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 7 years ago

The builder on my home steered me away from faux stone in 1999. I know of installations that have been in place since the '80's with no problems, but the only place I used it was an interior fireplace. Starting to think that was a good move.

Posted by Ron Barnes, "Most agents claim they're #1 - I THINK YOU'RE #1! (Associate Broker at Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Georgia Properties) over 7 years ago

Honestly I love the look of the stone, it's one of my favorite "elevations" in builder speak.  I'm not sure I'd ever buy a home with it though.  Most of the intstalls I have seen from the builders in our area have been poor and incorrect.

Posted by Justin Dibbs, REALTOR® - Ashburn Virginia Homes for Sale (Pearson Smith Realty) over 7 years ago

Jay - Your post is certainly an eye opener for those who consider faux stone to be a great alternative exterior finish material. As with any product, proper installation methods are essential and a good dose of common sense is always in order.

Posted by John Mulkey, Housing Guru (TheHousingGuru.com) over 7 years ago

This is a graet post! I will stay tuned for more - thanks for sharing!!

Posted by Donna Derrick Ponte Vedra Beach, Jax Beach FL (Davidson Realty Inc) over 7 years ago

Thanks Jay. I used to put up metal lath for a living and I know what amazing bad things we were told to cover up so the stone or stucco would make things look new.

Posted by Jeffrey Smith, Short Sale Education (Author of 'Realtors Guide To Short Sale Success) over 7 years ago

That looks like some nasty damage to the house, water and exposure sure can do a lot of damage in a short period of time.

Posted by Morgan Evans, LICENSED REAL ESTATE SALESPERSON (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) over 7 years ago

Jay:  I recently previewed a home with faux stone.  I saw it pulling away from the house and knew it could not be good.  What a mess.  Your photos say it all.

Posted by Bonnie Vaughan, CNE SFR - Buyers/Sellers - Lackawanna & Surroundin over 7 years ago

Sometimes people think guys like us are crazy for saying things. Then when the siding falls off this is what's behind it. I bet people are running outside right now to take a look at their faux stone. Good report narrative btw.

Posted by Rob Ernst, Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor (Certified Structure Inspector) over 7 years ago

Jay, I never have seen this stuff installed completely correctly. I must say our climate here is very forgiving in these type of situations but that is not an excuse for doing it wrong.

Like you I just let them know what it should be and they are warned. Since you get more water and much higher humidity the issues will surface very quickly.

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

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

Posted by Tim Bradley, Commercial Real Estate Expert in Jackson Hole, WY (Contour Investment Properties) over 7 years ago

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.

Posted by Reba Haas, Team Reba, CDPE (Team Reba of RE/MAX Metro Eastside www.TeamReba.com) over 7 years ago

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.

Posted by Jeff Pearl, Full Service Full Time Realtor (RE/MAX Distinctive / LIC in VA) over 7 years ago

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

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 7 years ago

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!

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) over 7 years ago

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.

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) over 7 years ago

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.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

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.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

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.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

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!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago
Hi Jay an excellent post. Is the real issue with the faux stone product or the poor prep and installation?
Posted by William Johnson, Retired Real Estate Professional (Retired) over 7 years ago

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!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

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.

Posted by Pamela Seley, Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA (West Coast Realty Division) over 7 years ago

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

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

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

Posted by Pamela Smith, Sun City West, Corte Bella, Sun City Grand (Award Realty) over 7 years ago

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

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

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.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 7 years ago

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

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 7 years ago

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

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

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

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

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