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"The TRUTH about about brick RENDER and other SYSTEMS". WHAT is the REAL cost of exterior home maintenance?"

       Scaffolding$   Render Repair$     Re-Painting$


Costly reparation and maintanence of brick and render buildings

We have mostly refrained from direct product comparisons with other building materials and systems, however we are constantly asked the questions? The reality is our product range and system was developed solely around solutions and benefits over the many existing materials and systems. So let’s look at them. Here are some of those questions.

Return to Questions

Examples of EIFS with jointing and water problems

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EIFS polystyrene render with jointing exposed


Whilst insulated render systems (EIFS) do provide good energy efficiencies through the insulation medium, many have been fraught with problems of cracking render and water infiltration. A continuous wall (monolithic) finish that stands the test of time is always a difficult ask when building structures constantly move with the expansion pressures of heat, cold and moisture. With this movement something has to give, and as a continuous wall it means potential cracking in the substrate. In the event of movement in an EcoSmart Stone installation, being modular pieces, each joint acts as a movement control joint without affecting the integrity of the finished wall.  Proper reparation of any monolithic finish almost always requires rectification of the complete wall in order to achieve the seamless finish without noticeable ‘patches’. Ventilation of EIFS by way of a cavity is extremely important in these systems as proven by the extensive damage caused by early direct fix methods used in New Zealand. See results of direct fix leaking home syndrome NZ click here.   SEE More here. These systems have since been improved with a regulatry drainage cavity.  Whilst less expensive than EcoSmart Stone the EIFS systems invariably require ongoing painting and maintenance throughout the life of the building. Assuming even without possible risks of cracking, the ongoing maintenance costs can far exceed the initial cost advantages of EIFS over EcoSmart Stone. 

What are the benefits of EcoSmart Stone compared to insulated (EIFS) render systems?

Water proofing damage to EIFS Polystyrene render wall cladding
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What are the benefits of EcoSmart Stone compared to brick and render systems?

Brick and render, whilst it is seen as a more ‘solid’ substrate than EIFS, it exhibits the same potential problems of movement cracking which potentially requires exactly the same risks as EIFS render, and the subsequent cost reparation and maintenance. Brick and render is also a big ‘heat and cold sink’, requiring good thermal insulation to reverse it. Many argue ecologically that brick and cement has a very high carbon cost. Like EIFS render systems, brick and render is less expensive than EcoSmart Stone but the ongoing maintenance costs alone can far exceed the initial cost advantages. 

The risks with brick and mortar render breakdown
Reparation to render requires the whole wall to be repainted for a seemless finish
New brick render with joints already exposed
Countless cracks and faulty render on this building is a major and costly reparation process

Above far right -   A brand new apartment block brick render and paint with rough joints showing. 


Others  -  Not so old brick and render builds requiring expensive maintanence and remedial works.

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What are the benefits of EcoSmart Stone compared to fibre cement sheet render systems?

Whilst the cheapest render format, compared to other render systems, fibre cement sheeting render has proven a challenge when it comes to seamless finishing. There are few builders we have spoken to who have not experienced problems of cracking render. This is mostly due to the high heat/cold absorbance and the expansion stresses caused by that. This also results in the bowing out, or in, between the studs which creates an uneven undulating surface finish. These problems are almost confirmed by the likes of James Hardie and CSR as a result in their push for the open/express jointed wall claddings they are now heavily promoting. It may suggest they are getting away from monolithic seamless wall finishing due to the inherent problems associated with it in the past.  

A 'seamless' finish on a brand new apartment using fibre cement board and render
The real beauty of monolithic seamless walls with fibre cement sheeting and render

Above  -   A brand new apartment unit using fibre cement sheet with render/paint showing undulations. 


Left  -  A fibre cement sheet and render home demonstrating bowing and undulations in the sheeting.

EcoSmart Stone fixing

  1. Line studs with approved breather foil.

  2. Simply install the stone cladding.

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What are the benefits of EcoSmart Stone compared to other stone cladding veneers?

Most other stone claddings require a separate wall fabric to fix the stone to, either fibre cement sheeting or lathe and plaster as in the US/Canada. Exclusive of any wall insulation required it adds considerable materials and labour to the stone cladding process. In some cases the stone cladding may be inexpensive, but when all the components and labour are added it becomes expensive. These installations are usually wet fix methods too, which means wet mortar mess. EcoSmart Stone in many situations can be installed in little more time than just the lining is fixed and prepared, let alone the stone application in other cladding systems. With EcoSmart Stone the walls are finished and insulated direct over studs, in just one single application, not four, five or six. All those extra materials and labour costs money. Secondly, most of these methods become a heat and cold sink, allowing heat and cold transfer through to the wall studs...  and inside. Thirdly, EcoSmart Stone utilises up 60% less natural stone resources compared to most other cladding stone.

Assuming a new stud wall building let’s look at the processes involved in most other cladding stone installations… 


Other Stone Cladding installation

  1. Fit insulation between the stud walls.

  2. Line studs with approved breather foil.

  3. Fit battens to allow a cavity to comply with NZ or BCA standards.

  4. Cover the walls with lining material (fibre cement sheet or other)

  5. Fill all the joints with mesh and approved filler material.

  6. Waterproof seal all the lining boards after jointing and filling.

  7. Apply the stone cladding with approved adhesive or mortars.

  8. Clean up the mess.



The many steps involved in fixing stone cladding with wet fix mortar systems
A laborious, time consuming and messy wall cladding process
The simplicity of installing Eco Smart Stone wall cladding is clear

 Clean & Simple                                           Dirty & Messy 

As you can see the time difference is major, more so when the cost is added with all the extra labour and materials required.

As a comparitive guide in Australia, Eco Smart Stone including all the peripherals, corners, sills, window returns and fittings it is approx $200 > $220 a square metre including installation. An average single story home INCLUDING R-3 THERMAL insulation. Most other stone claddings requiring battens/wall sheeting for application the cost is upwards of $300 sq metre. NO insulation.

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What are the benefits of insulation on the ‘outside’ of the building fabric?

Insulation batts/pillows that are placed in cavities between structural stud walls lose efficiency, as the studs act as a ‘thermal bridge’ which transfers heat and cold from direct connection to the outside cladding materials. On a hot day of say 35 degrees C ambient temperature, it can mean the outside walling, with sun absorption as well, will reach to 50 degrees C and higher. This heat is then transferred through the studs to the interior of the building, resulting in A/Cs being turned on for occupant comfort.  The reverse exists with the cold in the winter. This in turn results in high living energy costs. EcoSmart Stone effectively insulates from the outside of the structural walls, without thermal bridging, keeping the heat, and cold, outside, where it belongs.

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What are the benefits of EcoSmart Stone compared to dimension stone and brick?

Dimension stone and brick walls require expensive structural footings to carry the weight load. They have little if nothing by way of thermal insulation qualities (unless some limestone material). They are effectively a ‘heat sink’ absorbing the day’s sun and heat, then transferring that into the home. The high mass means it takes a long time to dissipate thus continuing to transfer heat even at night. This is reversed in winter and acts as a ‘cold sink’. EcoSmart Stone provides insulation and uses up 90% less natural stone resources compared to dimension stone per sq metre cover. That's a significant environmental saving. 

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Can EcoSmart Stone be repaired easily if it is broken as a result of impact?

Yes, EcoSmart Stone can be easily replaced without affecting the integrity of the existing wall finish or any noticeable reparation. It is a simple process taking around 30 minutes, and your wall is as good as new.

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What are the benefits of EcoSmart Stone compared to aluminium metal systems?

Many aluminium metal wall systems are costly, like Alucobond and others, and at some stage they also require maintenance (unless natural copper or otherwise), as they are in most cases PVDF paint coated. Like any painted surface they will require repainting at some stage in the building lifetime. Stone has been around for centuries and has proved itself one of the most durable exterior wall materials on the planet.  Most of the decorative metal claddings available do not exhibit any thermal insulation benefits like EcoSmart Stone, and mostly the cost benefits are significant too.


What are the benefits of EcoSmart Stone lamination process compared to others?

Delamination is always a question asked of many fixing procedures. Many stone claddings are applied on site by mortar methods. This can be compromised by man-made inaccurate mortar material measurements and/or weather conditions, too hot, too cold or frost. Many mortars also do not have the flexibility to handle stresses of heat and cold expansion. Addition of lime to the mixes aids flexibility but slows the curing, especially in cold conditions. Factory mixed acrylic mortars have since been developed to maintain a more flexible bed for cladding stone. This eliminates man made mixing errors in conventional mortar mixing. EcoSmart Stone is factory laminated under uniform temperature conditions with flexible polyurethane adhesives which perform under all weather conditions and do not breakdown with constant stress. Being flexible it in fact acts as a shock absorber, compared to most hard fix cements and many epoxies, some of which tend to go brittle under extreme cold conditions. With the manufactured laminated end product being then mechanically fastened on site there are no issues around extreme heat or cold in the installation process.        

Mortar application of stone wall cladding takes time, and can have its problems

The cost of maintanence is very high let alone price of scaffolding where required, multiplied by 3 or 4 times during a building lifetime, sometimes much more than 3 or 4 remedial cycles.

Reparation and redecoration of brick and render buildings can be extremely costly.
Another cracked plaster render wall in need of costly attention

The cost of the scaffolding above left cost $9000 without any of the rectification and painting.  Much nicer in your pocket than theirs? 



There is little anyone can do about movement in a buildings structure. Weather (wet, cold and heat) will dictate that. If one has a monolitic seamless finish on their home it is mostly ineveitable that cracking will appear regardless of how good the render job was. Modular components will move too, everything has to if a building moves. Wth products such as EcoSmart Stone, that building stress is taken to the many joints (in themselves expansion joints) which do not result in the face being broken, cracked or distorted like render. To the eye most would not even see any such expansion and contraction stress resulting in face stone damage with modular EcoSmart Stone cladding. In the very worst of movement stresses the remedy may only be minor reparation of mortar joints themselves. With mortar renders remedial work is a major undertaking, exclusive of the usual required repainting each decade.




Initial cost stud framed home with brick and render/paint at $150 a sq metre including labour                               $30,000

Initial cost stud framed home with EIFS render system at $140 a sq metre including labour                                     $28,000

Initial cost stud framed home with EcoSmart Stone depending on stone type $220 a sq metre including labour     $44,000  




Biased, yes, but it is likely that stone will pack the biggest street appeal punch, and represent the true real cost value. 




RENDER and PAINT assuming no scaffolding is required, and a generous painting cycle of 12 years that equates to 5 maintanence periods, and no remedial reparation.

1st cycle      $6000

2nd cycle    $10000

3rd cycle     $14000

4th cycle     $18000

5th cycle     $24000

TOTAL         $72,000   PLUS the initial cost of $28,000  =   ALL UP   $100,000 COMPARED TO EcoSmart Stone at $44,000


Stone has endured for centuries and requires little more than regular cleaning to maintain original condition for the life of a building. With savings like that above natural stone finishes really are a LOGICAL choice. Its ECO SMART. 




To believe that purchasers look past potential maintanence costs in consideration of buying a rendered home is naive. Most home owners we talk to are looking for NO MAINTANENCE homes. Affordability is an initial consideration but this is usually far out weighed by resale value compared to a rendered painted property. Even real estate agents will note on their sales pitch 'NO MAINTANENCE PROPERTY'. The fact is most clients with existing retrofit stone upgrades have done so for that very same reason, they do NOT want continuing maintanence. Hassle or cost. And those with old fibro retrofits take the opportunity to fully insulate their home at the same time without the hassle normally associated with 'in stud' wall insulation. One simple application with two very clear results.


NOTE : The figures represented here are general indicative costings at the time of writing and will vary from contractor and system used. 



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