Saturday, February 06, 2010

Ironic Iconic: Brooklyn's EIFS Brownstones

Fascia Transplant

There is an elegant futility in the way this homeowner has decided to upgrade his little South Slope frame house. It's been resurfaced with a kind of imitation brownstone or Exterior Insulation Finish System (EIFS), commonly known by its detractors as plastic stucco. This supposedly water tight plastic barrier system has been plagued by moisture infiltration problems that can result in mold growth and structural decay. The industry itself seems to blame the failure on a multitude of sins mostly having to do with the installation contractor failing to follow the manufacturers guidelines and specifications.

Of coarse true Portland Brownstone is not without it's own inherent structural problems as many Park Slope Brooklyn home owners can testify to.
It seems that 100+ years ago, ignorant builders, in their haste, often used quarried stone that had a high water content and was not properly cured or dried out before being applied to the face of a building. Often the sandy stone was cut in such a way that exposed its thin sedimentary layers to the weather and its destructive freeze/thaw cycles, causing it to literally crumble apart. Brownstone buildings sometimes experienced this characteristic flaking, known as spalling, as soon as 10 to 20 years after construction. Unfortunately, resurfacing today's damaged Brownstone facades with a mixture of cement and brown colored masonry pigments can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

We will see what the future holds for these "EIFS Brownstones". My guess is that in the near future, there will be a great demand for contractors specializing in plastic stucco surgery.

The Before Shot

In Context: 8th Avenue

23rd Street Before and After

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