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EIFS (pronounced eefs) is an acronym for Exterior Insulation Finish Systems. The basic process involves attaching insulation boards to various substrates like sheathing or concrete block, then troweling on a base coat which is reinforced with a mesh fabric. The final process involves troweling on a decorative finish color top coat which is floated to assimilate many varied textures.

The history of styrene can be dated back to 1831, when it was found that heated storax (the gummy resin in balsam trees) resulted in vapors that contained the basic chemical properties of this thermoplastic resin. Storax has also been found in the mummified remains of the Egyptians.1

In 1839 a German druggist name Eduard Simon is credited with distilling storax resin and obtaining an oil which he named "styrol." It wasn't until 1920 that another German, Hermann Staudinger fully understood the ramifications of Simon's discovery. It was Staudinger who made the first samples of polystyrene which processes developed into the first commercial production by Badische Anilin & Soda-Fabrik aka BASF in 1931.2 Staudinger received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1953 for his research.3

In 1929 the Dow Chemical Company, developed a method of making synthetic polystyrene, although the original concept can arguably be attributed to two Swedish scientists C.G. Munters and J.G. Tandberg who filed for a patent in 1931 and a U.S. patent in 1935. Dow scientists led by Otis Ray McIntire were able to develop a commercial process for the production of cellular polystyrene, now commonly referred to as StyrofoamŪ. It was patented in 1944.4 McIntire himself has stated that he stumbled upon the process for making Styrofoam by accident while he was trying to find a flexible electrical insulator.3 Ray McIntire was inducted posthumously into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio in May 2008 for his contribution joining other such notables as Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and the founder of Dow, Herbert Henry Dow.4

Post World War II Europe provided a prime proving ground for the development of synthetic polymers as a result of petroleum and natural rubber shortages. A German company Sto AG pioneered the first quality synthetic resin wall coatings in 1955 and introduced what is now called EIFS to the European market in 1963.5 EIFS was readily accepted because it provided much needed thermal value to common wall construction of masonry. The necessities apparent in post WWII, new buildings were required to replace the old which spurred a period of renewal. Because most of Europe already had affinity for the trowel applied arts, EIFS fit well into its resurgence. A plus to this scenario was the fact that polymer modification of coatings presents an opportunity for much less cracking than traditional stucco compositions. EIFS is used on 40% of all new European buildings and 80% of retrofitted buildings.6

It is widely accepted that EIFS used in North America was established by a company named Dryvit in 1969. The origins of Dryvit Systems, Inc. can be traced to a handshake agreement between Frank Morsilli, a businessman with a family background in plastering and a German inventor named Edwin Horbach. Morsilli, was duly impressed with the stucco-like product that Horbach twisted in his hands without a single crack and entered a licensing and royalty agreement with the inventor to bring the product to the United States.7 Providence and timing were working in Morsilli's favor in the early 1970's when Dryvit was in its infancy. The oil embargo of 1973 created widespread concerns for fuel shortages and energy conservation, which gave a lift to the growing company.

Today, EIFS is perhaps better known because of the aesthetic effects that can be created with the product than by its true virtue of energy performance. Sales for EIFS in 2006 exceeded $313 million and through the 3rd quarter of 2007 were at $224 million.8
1Kyung Won Suh and Andrew Paquet, "Rigid Polystyrene Foams and Alternative Blowing Agents," The Dow Chemical Company, Midland Michigan. Modern Styrenic Polymers: Edited by John Scheirs and D.B. Priddy, 2003,John Wiley and Sons Ltd
2John Scheirs, "Historical Overview of Styrenic Polymers," Modern Styrenic Polymers, John Scheirs and D.B. Priddy, 2003, John Wiley and Sons Ltd.
3Mary Bellis, Polystyrene and Styrofoam, About.com: Inventors, http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blpolystyrene.htm
4Dow Media Sources, Inventor of StyrofoamŪ Named to the National Inventors Hall of Fame, March 6, 2008, http://www.dow. com/styrofoam/media/current/20080306a.htm
5Sto Background Information, http://www.stocorp.com/allweb.nsf/bi
6Dynamism and Dryvit, Construction Dimensions, 1982
7Dryvit Sold, Construction Dimensions, April 1990
8EIFS Industry Members Association, 2007



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