Waterproofing Buildings

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Waterproofing buildings is the formation of an impervious barrier over foundations, roofs, walls and other structural members of buildings to prevent water penetrating through these surfaces.

A new building will reach a stage in construction where it is made watertight to prevent water from penetrating into internal areas. Alternatively, an existing building may undergo remedial works to make its basement watertight, to prevent penetrating damp or rising damp and so on. For more information see: Basement Waterproofing.

However, the term waterproof can be applied to particular elements of the building fabric that are designed to keep out water. For example, although high-grade concrete can be highly impervious to moisture this is difficult to achieve in practice due to a number of construction reasons. But when PVC or copper water bars are incorporated at joints (the weak points) and a waterproofing agent is added to the mix, a waterproof construction can be achieved.

Similarly, a synthetic roofing membrane may be termed waterproof not only because water is unable to penetrate the molecular structure of the material but also because it can form a continuous, seamless roof surface that can be fully waterproof when properly installed.

Waterproofing in buildings and structures are generally required for basements, walls, bathrooms and kitchen, balconies, decks, terraces, garages, green roofs, water tanks and swimming pools. It creates a barrier that makes it impossible for water to pass through the material, helping to reduce the humidity and moisture penetration inside the building, thus preventing damage to indoors from exposure to moisture or water.

In terms of the foundation, waterproofing means that no liquid will penetrate the concrete foundation wall even under submerged conditions.

Types of Waterproofing Methods for Buildings

The following waterproofing methods are commonly used in construction:

  1. Cementitious Waterproofing
  2. Liquid Waterproofing Membrane
  3. Bituminous Membrane
  4. Bituminous Coating
  5. Polyurethane Liquid Membrane
  6. Injection Grouting Waterproofing
  7. EPDM Waterproofing Membrane

1. Cementitious Waterproofing Method

Cementitious waterproofing is the easiest method of waterproofing buildings in construction. The materials for cementitious waterproofing are easily available from suppliers of masonry products, and they’re easy to mix and apply.

This method is often used in the internal wet areas such as toilets. This method is usually a rigid or semi-flexible type of waterproofing, but since it is used in internal areas such as toilets, it is not exposed to sunlight and weathering. Thus cementitious waterproofing does not usually go through a contraction and expansion process.

2. Liquid Waterproofing Membrane

Liquid membrane is a thin coating usually consisting of a primer coat and two top coats which are applied by spray, roller, or trowel. It offers more flexibility than the cementitious types of waterproofing.

The liquid cures into a rubbery coating on the surface. The elongation properties of the coating can reach as high as 280%. The durability of the waterproofing coating depends on what type and quality of polymer the manufacturer uses for the making of the liquid waterproofing.

Liquid waterproofing membrane can be of spray-applied liquid membrane composed of polymer-modified asphalt. Polyurethane liquid membranes in separate grades for trowel, roller, or spray are also available from various manufacturers.

3. Bituminous Coating Waterproofing

Bituminous coating is a type of coating used for waterproofing buildings with a flexible protective coat in accordance with its formulation and polymerisation grade. Its flexibility and protection against water can be influenced by the polymer grade as well as fibre reinforcement.

Bituminous coating is also called asphalt coating. The most common applications of bituminous coatings include areas that are beneath wet screed. It is an excellent protective coating and waterproofing agent, especially on surfaces such as concrete foundations.

Bituminous coating is made of bitumen based materials and it is not suitable for exposure to sunlight. It becomes very brittle and fragile under long exposure to the sunlight unless it is modified with a more flexible material such as polyurethane or acrylic based polymers.

The flexibility of the finished products always depends on the solid content of the polymer added to the bitumen.


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4. Bituminous Membrane Waterproofing

Bituminous membrane waterproofing is a popular method used for low-sloped roofs due to its proven performance. Bituminous waterproofing membranes can be torched on membrane or self-adhesive membrane.

Self-adhesive compounds comprise asphalt, polymers and filler; additionally, certain resins and oils may be added to improve adhesion characteristics. The self-adhesive type has low shelf life as the bonding properties of the membrane reduces with time.

Torch-on membrane has both exposed and covered types. Exposed membrane often has mineral granular aggregate to withstand the wear and tear of weathering and with self-adhesive membrane, a protective screed is needed to prevent puncturing of the membrane.

5. Polyurethane Liquid Membrane Waterproofing

Polyurethane liquid membrane method of waterproofing is used for flat roof areas that are exposed to weathering. Polyurethane Liquid Membrane offers a higher flexibility. Polyurethane is very sensitive to moisture content, therefore before application, you have to be very careful when evaluating the moisture content of the concrete slab, otherwise de-bonding of membranes may happen after some time.

6. Injection Grouting Waterproofing

In injection grouting waterproofing, a low viscous injection resin for waterproofings is applied in small/medium infiltration to brick and concrete, to structures like basements and tunnels. The process of filling cement slurry or waterproofing chemical for reducing cracks, voids, and honeycombing with a pressure Injection Grouting Machine is known as Injection Grouting Waterproofing.

Injection Grouting is generally used in waterproofing basements or tanks making it water-resistant or to prevent any leakage. Injection grouting waterproofing can be one of the most important parts of the building waterproofing process.

7. EPDM Waterproofing Membrane

EPM waterproofing membrane is a synthetic rubber single layer flexible membrane, durable in cold and hot weather. Technically, EPDM is an elastomer with very good properties against the passage of water and atmospheric agents, with high elasticity and resistance, which makes it a very suitable material for the waterproofing of all types of surfaces.

One of the biggest advantages is that it can be supplied in blankets of up to 900m2.

Yes, yes, up to 900m2 of roof can be waterproofed in one piece. This minimises the number of joints that have to be executed,thus reducing the probability that any of them can fail. It is also a great advantage when collecting the material, as it avoids having to handle the large number of rolls that is necessary with other systems such as bituminous sheets. On a single pallet you can get a large coverage of EPDM.

What Are The Advantages of Waterproofing?

  • Water absorption can be decreased.
  • Prevents the formation of cracks on the concrete floor.
  • The application is relatively easy.
  • It will increase the lifetime of a solid construction.
  • It prevents corrosion of reinforcement.
  • Prevents dampness inside the building.
  • Prevents seepages from the ceiling and walls.
  • Reduces the maintenance cost of the building.
  • The property value can be increased.
  • It protects the property as well as the people within.

What Are The Disadvantages of Waterproofing:

  • Bitumen-based products soften in hot weather due to solvent evaporation.
  • Polyurethane protective coating isn’t particularly versatile.
  • Polyurethane protective coating lowers the natural breathing capability of concrete.
  • The polyurethane protective coating has a limited useful life.
  • Impermeable floor coating permits water to form below the floor coating.
  • Cementitious waterproofing can result in cracking, and the inability to maintain the cracks can cause further leakage.

Waterproofing buildings is an integral part of construction. It is a durable and cost effective solution to reducing the inherent long term permeability of building materials and extends the life of the building; supporting and protecting clean and healthy living and working environments for us all.

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