Facade Considerations & Comparisons

For Today. For Tomorrow.

Al Slattery

After only seven years, EIFS at an upscale fashion mall in the Midwest is deteriorating. The developer had chosen masonry for much of the pedestrian-level veneer, but EIFS for higher elevations. If EIFS repairs are needed every seven years, what would that add to its cost over the building’s life?

When choosing a veneer system, aesthetics is a top consideration. Age-old masonry buildings are still top tourist attractions around the world for their history, craftsmanship and beauty. Municipalities know the benefits masonry brings to their cities and towns as evidenced by higher resale values, property values and tax-based stability. Yet, it is common today to see alternative cladding.

It’s about today. And it’s about tomorrow.

One wonders whether material selection conversations between architects, contractors and owners include cost and frequency of maintenance and/or repair or if first cost is the only consideration. Daily, I see scaffolding setup on fairly new buildings to have their EIFS (exterior insulation and finish systems) systems serviced. EIFS sooner than later requires repeated maintenance. Is this not of repeated concern?

Let’s consider differences between veneer systems and a reason for selection. Other systems may promote a 50-year life span but no one can dispute the 100+ year longevity of masonry’s life expectancy. Masonry’s long life and durability are instead competing with systems for speed of construction.

Maybe because of masonry’s long history as a quality building material, it is perceived as taking a long time to erect and therefore to be more expensive. We in the masonry industry must work to overcome that perception. Watch the Spec Mix Bricklayer 500 competition at the World of Masonry to see how efficiencies and advancements in masonry technologies address these former concerns. Watch the event at specmixbricklayer500.com.

Comparatively Speaking

The first cost of a masonry veneer is comparable to EIFS and offers so much added value. I challenge all contractors to sell masonry systems, with the efficiency and speed that is needed to entice owners and convince developers, GCs and other decision makers. There may be forces driving other veneer systems into the market, but none would pass if there were such a thing as a Benjamin Franklin litmus test, shown above, comparing head-to-head reasons to use masonry.

We in the masonry industry exceed expectations. With the best proven systems to offer, masonry sells itself with products that are resilient, durable, low maintenance, sustainable, fire- and blastresistant, and beautiful, with nearly unlimited colors, textures, shapes and sizes. Around the industry, people are working to improve the deliverability of masonry. From the BIM for Masonry initiative which helps designers design masonry buildings more efficiently to Construction Robotics’ bricklaying robot, SAM, which assists bricklayers, improving productivity. For an ancient building medium, masonry isn’t stuck in its old ways and it certainly should not be overlooked for other veneer systems based on characteristics of being quick, cheap and easy. Think attributes!

When was the last time you saw an ad or television show with an EIFS backdrop? Stick with a winner. Masonry outperforms!



  • Wall life: 100+ Years
  • Durable
  • Minimal repointing / cleaning
  • Wall breathability
  • Color & texture choices: Unlimited
  • Geographical options of materials
  • Organic/Green materials


  • Wall life: At this time unknown
  • Less Abuse Resistant
  • Resurface or paint regularly
  • No air space
  • Color & texture choices: Limited
  • Local foam factory
  • Foam not biodegradable

Al Slattery

Al Slattery, president, Al Slattery Masonry in Oklahoma City OK, has been in the masonry business for 40 years. In addition to being known for building and supplying the best wall and clad ding systems that can be used, Slattery is focused on sharing his knowledge of the trade and training masons. He is on the advisory committee for CareerTech and assists the program by providing materials and judging competitions. Slattery is also a member of the American Subcontractors Association, OK State Chair, member of the Marketing Committee of Mason Contractors Association of America and a GREAT MIND on the Editorial Advisory Board of SMART|dynamicsofmasonry. al@asmiok.com | 405.324.6080

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