Basement Damp Proofing

Damp-proofing The Outside Foundation Walls

A basement with flaking, chipping waterproof paint.

Most homes built after the 1950's have been treated with damp-proofing.

However, wet and damp, leaking basement walls remain a widespread problem across the United Kingdom.

Damp-proofing a foundation wall is a process that involves using a mixture (typically tar or asphalt-based) on the outside surface of foundation walls. These coatings are normally black in color.

The goal of damp-proofing is to prevent moisture from passing through the concrete walls into the interior space of your basement or crawl space.

Most modern homes have a damp-proof coating, which was installed to meet local building code requirements as the home was being built.

However, these coatings will often fail several years after the home has been constructed. And while they are easy to install as the home is being constructed, damp-proof coatings are difficult and expensive to install several years after the home was built.

In this section, we'll explain why Basement Systems UK does not recommend damp proofing your foundation to waterproof it. We'll also explain what we do suggest if you want dry, clean-looking basement walls.

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A basement wall covered in a white, flaky mineral salt known as efflorescence.

Damp-proofing mixtures are generally designed with either a tar or asphalt-based mixture.

Applying them is a tricky business. If they're not applied just right, the black coating will be visible along the soil line.

Problems With Damp-proofing

Damp-proofing with tar and asphalt-based mixtures is a limited treatment method that will eventually fail.

As early as two years after a home has been constructed, the foundation walls will begin to show signs of stress in the form of cracks and crevices.

When damp-proofing products cure and set, they will become rigid and brittle. Meanwhile, cracks will form as the concrete expands naturally with changing temperatures and moisture levels.

As the concrete expands and cracks, the damp-proof coating will be unable to stretch to cover the openings. This will cause the products to begin to crack and flake off the walls, allowing moisture to penetrate the walls. This process usually begins within just a few years of being applied!

Damp-proof products are also highly susceptible to extreme weather conditions. Heavy rain, cold, and acidic soil conditions will also speed up the breakdown of the coatings.

Waterproofing Vs. Damp-proofing

Damp-proofing is not intended to keep all water and moisture out of your home. Instead, its goal is to merely slow down the moisture infiltration into your home. In other words, some moisture will still enter your home through the walls.

Additionally, damp-proofing does not resist water well enough to hold back a head of water or to prevent oversaturation of the foundation from ground water, extreme humidity, or prolonged exposure to moisture.

If your goal is to dry your basement, this is not the solution you're looking for. Instead, you should explore options that involve waterproofing the basement.

A basement with bright blue waterproof paint that is heavily peeling and flaking off the walls.

To damp-proof an exterior foundation wall, it will first need to be exposed.

This means that all the dirt surrounding the home will need to be excavated; an expensive and time-consuming project.

Damp-proofing An Existing Home

After the home is built (when soil has been filled in around the outside of your foundation) installing a damp-proof coating around your home becomes a major challenge.

Before the coating can be applied, the entire exterior of your home will need to be excavated. Anything along those edges, including porches, patios, walkways, gardens, foliage, and other landscaping will need to be removed.

The piles of dirt that are excavated will be returned once the damp-proof coating has cured. Since the soil has been loosened during the excavation, it will begin to settle downwards in the months following the digging. You will need to regrade your soil in a year to prevent water from collecting in the dip that will form in the soil.

The damp-proofing application that will be applied will be identical to the one that previously failed to keep back moisture. In time, this one will also fail.

Is Damp-proofing Less Expensive Than Waterproofing?

Damp-proofing a foundation is a time-consuming, labor-intensive process that involves heavy equipment. Waterproofing a basement from the interior is much faster with most jobs being completed in a single day.

Because of this, damp-proofing will generally cost twice as much as simply waterproofing from the interior.

Create A Comfortable, Dry, Attractive Basement!

At Basement Systems UK, we have just what you need to address a wet or leaking basement. Our basement interior drainage systems and sump pumps can make your home a more comfortable, beautiful place, all while solving an important problem in your home.

Our free quotes include a personal consultation, an on-site inspection and measurement, and a written quote for pricing. Before our visit, we'll also send ahead a full-colour copy of our waterproofing book. Contact us today for your free quote!

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