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Waterproofing Methods: Modern and Conventional Waterproofing Techniques


– by Mr. Tapas Saha

Waterproofing chemicals have been used as one of the main structural components in buildings to protect the structures from the penetration of water (anti-seepage waterproofing), harmful effects of wetting or corrosive fluids since time immemorial. In this way, waterproofing chemicals ensure the normal use of buildings, installations, equipment and increases the structural reliability and durability. Often times in the construction industry innovative steps are taken in the architecture and design of structures to add impressive new lobbies and podiums, parking lots and gardens. In fact, contractors go all out to perfect the finishing of a structure. However, as soon as it comes to basics like waterproofing the structural integrity of the building, the same old conventional systems are used. Although they have been proven, time and again to lead to leakages and weakening of the building.

Waterproofing realtymythsUse of Conventional Waterproofing Materials: The Issues

There is a reason that standard waterproofing is not good enough any longer. In fact, buildings treated with materials like Brickbat Coba, Mud Phuska, Bituminous treatment, and Metallic sheet wrapping – also known as the standard waterproofing methods – tend to get cracks in them in a short period of time. The use of such standard material for waterproofing leads to regular leakage problems and expenditure on repairs. Additionally, breaking of newer layers of waterproofing to repair it weakens the structure further.

When it involves bathrooms and wet areas of the home like the kitchen, the use of conventional waterproofing methods only covers the floor and sunken spaces which lead to leakages. However, while the root of the problem is the waterproofing material, the use of unskilled labor can also lead to faulty waterproofing. Moreover, with hidden piping, more care must be taken and conventional waterproofing materials can cause further damage if not already done.

Moreover, another conventional method of waterproofing exterior walls is the use of exterior paints. But the problem here is that paints are 30-50 micron thick which are just not thick enough to help against the wind lashing rains that may damage the paint layer. Hence, over time, the paint cracks or peels – leading to further problems like damp patches and seepage, that is more often a problem in the monsoon season.

The New Waterproofing Products

Despite the many advantages of the new methods of waterproofing, people still tend to stick to old systems. Although this is because there is still relatively low awareness about the products and their many benefits, inadequate knowledge of the proper usage of these chemicals and the role they can play in maintaining our high-rises lead to their non-use.

Some of the new products for waterproofing include:

  1. Cementitious waterproofing
  2. Liquid Waterproofing Membrane
  3. Bituminous Membrane
  4. Bituminous Coating
  5. Polyurethane Liquid Membrane

That led to lesser leakages and higher chances of surviving for longer periods of time. For example, the most common applications of bituminous coatings (also called asphalt coating) include spaces that are beneath the screed wet. It is highly regarded as an excellent protective coating and waterproofing agent that is now commonly used on surfaces such as concrete foundations.

The Bituminous coating is made using bitumen-based materials however, it is generally regarded as an unsuitable layer for areas that might be exposed to the sunlight. Due to prolonged exposure to the sunlight, it becomes very brittle and fragile unless mixed with a more flexible material such as polyurethane or acrylic-based polymers.

The end result then increases the flexibility of the finished products that are always dependent on the solid content of the polymer added to the bitumen. Although mixing the final product works better than the previously used materials, constant innovation is always required in this field to create better, more efficient products that can be molded for higher efficiency in changing weather conditions.

*The author is DGM – Product Development at AIPL ZORRO PVT LTD.

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