There’s Something About Waterproofing…Demystifying the Basics

Waterproofing is as nuanced and as complex – at times – as the sites on which it is applied. There is no ‘one-size fits all’ solution, rather, each site presents its own unique challenges and the materials must be appropriate. In addition, correct application is key for success, and this entails preventing water damage and subsequent building damage as a result of any leaks.

Waterproofing, however, can be overwhelming to some builders and architects because it is quite complicated. Let’s walk through some digestible facts and concepts to make waterproofing just that little bit less confusing:

Layering waterproofing materials adds extra protection
Utilizing multiple waterproofing methods can be more effective than a single product material on some sites – however, it depends on the specific conditions. The following materials may comprise a simple system, or be combined to form something more complex with multiple elements:

  • Sheet membranes: They are often composed of high-density polyethylene (HDPE), PVC or TPO, and then seamed together in the field using adhesives or heat welding.
  • Fluid-applied waterproofing membranes: They can be made with a variety of different materials, and they are then applied to create a seamless layer of waterproofing protection.
  • Bentonite sheet waterproofing: Simply put, this method of waterproofing takes granular bentonite material and manufactures it in sheet form; it then swells when it comes in contact with water to prevent the its further passage.
  • Cementitious waterproofing: This material can be mixed and applied easily, and often used around wet areas in internal applications, like bathroom toilets, or in water treatment plants and tunnels.

There’s a big (BIG) difference between damp proofing and waterproofing. Understanding the difference between waterproofing and damp proofing makes it easier to determine the kind of protection that a building receives. Don’t know the difference? Here’s the quick version: Waterproofing protects against water and water vapor infiltration, while damp proofing is designed to prevent moisture from passing into interior spaces.

Concrete Network defines this further to explain, “Any concrete or masonry foundation walls that retain earth and enclose interior spaces and floors below grade shall be dampproofed from the top of the footing to the finished grade." Waterproofing is required "in areas where a high water table or other severe soil-water conditions are known to exist."

What do composite systems have to offer?
Sites that require multiple levels of waterproofing can have more complex conditions. In these scenarios, composite systems can be used will achieve several goals: They protect against water infiltration on a basic level by utilizing complementary waterproofing technologies, help overcome the challenges presented by modern-day construction methodologies, and help ensure a healthy building environment by protecting occupants from contaminants that might be present on the site.

When a building is subjected to hydrostatic or perched water conditions, the requirement for perfectly installed waterproofing increases exponentially. Water is very patient, and the consistent and steady force it exerts on waterproofing system weaknesses will likely result in water migrating into the structure.

To help combat these challenges, composite waterproofing systems are more effective as they combine several different types of waterproofing materials to leverage the positive attributes of each and to eliminate negative attributes, forming one collective system that is resistant to damage and contains fewer overall seams. These systems can accommodate a wide variety of different site conditions and even be tailored to resist contamination that is present on so many sites that are being redeveloped.

Where Does EPRO fit in?
EPRO provides total building envelope protection for any site conditions, at any location. For 30 years, we have developed extensive waterproofing and vapor mitigation systems for projects across the US and Canada. Understanding that site conditions and performance goals can vary from project to project, we provide options that allow design teams the ability to weigh the pros and cons of each material when selecting a system to meet their needs. With warranted waterproofing and contaminant barrier systems, EPRO aims to be the single-source provider for building projects from start to finish.

We would love to work with you on your next project – drop us a line and one of our dedicated area reps will be in touch!