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How EIFS came to America

Design experts from Hoffmann Architects offer a brief history of exterior insulation and finish systems in the U.S.

March 04, 2014 |
Image courtesy Hoffmann Architects

Editor's note: This article was originally published as part of an AIA/CES Discovery course: "EIFS: How to succeed with exterior insulation and finish systems." Take this free course at


After vast swaths of Europe were destroyed in World War II, cities looked to rebuild quickly and inexpensively. EIFS was first introduced in Germany during the post-war years as a wall system that enabled the rapid redevelopment of devastated areas. 

The technology was brought to the United States in 1969 by the building product manufacturer Dryvit, and it gained popularity during the energy crisis of the 1970s, when retrofitting walls with exterior insulation improved performance and cut energy costs.

The EIFS industry continued to enjoy steady growth through the 1980s, thanks chiefly to the product’s insulating properties, light weight, aesthetic flexibility, low cost, and versatility. In addition to new construction, EIFS was commonly used for retrofits, where it could be applied easily over existing exterior walls to improve energy profile and provide a fresh appearance.

Available in a wide range of colors, shapes, and textures, EIFS allowed architects the flexibility to design new façade profiles at a relatively low construction cost.

This versatility led to the proliferation of EIFS in the residential and light commercial markets. In 1981, the EIFS Industry Members Association was formed to advocate for EIFS manufacturers and improve product performance.

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