Well it’s been over a year since my last rant about Dryvit and why I think it should be banned as an exterior building material. But seriously folks, why do we even need to have this discussion? It would be like having to specify that cheese should not be used as a building material, or toothpaste, or sewn-together T-shirts. It should seem self-evident.
Some call it “synthetic stucco,” others just call it stucco, but unlike real stucco, which was an inch-thick multiple-layer application of concrete, Dryvit is just a very thin coating of plaster (less than a centimeter) over a panel of styrofoam. I think even the “plaster buildings” built by various world’s fairs back in the day as temporary structures were more durable.
Recently, I’ve watched as a building in my neighborhood has been covered with Dryvit, and I was able to get a close-up view, which I share here for anyone who might even be considering thinking about about putting the stuff on their building. Mind you, I’m not arguing the building in question is “historic” in the sense of being an architectural gem, but it was a good sturdy Modernist-leaning commercial building. The building is actually cinder block, but the facade was faced with a nice textured Roman brick with an interesting masonry screen created by opening squares into the brick supports for the porch overhang.
Well, the building was recently vacated by its long-time tenants, and was up for sale for a while. I worried it would just sit and sit, so was happy to see the For Sale sign come down and the signs get painted over. But then I happened to drive past one day to see this sight, announcing that Dryvit was coming soon to my neighborhood:
The building is done now, the squares cut back out and the only real change is a painted blue stripe below the windows. This could have been done at much less cost by simply painting the facade (although I don’t know why you would paint brick and thereby create a maintenance cost into the future).
I don’t blame the owner–he thought he was doing a good thing. But give it a couple of years and the Dryvit will begin to wear badly. They’ll paint it again, but the styrofoam underwear will start showing and will get embarrassing. Then what will happen to this otherwise sturdy building that started out with a solid and long-lasting brick facade? They won’t be able to remove the styrofoam without damaging the brick, since it’s glued with material that’s stronger than the sytrofoam, so they’ll have to take down the whole facade and start over. That’s how decent buildings meet their demise through no fault of their own. And that’s why Dryvit should be banned!
While we’re at it, I guess we should go ahead and ban dried cheese too as a building material, just in case anyone gets the idea.