How to Make a Concrete Surface Waterproof

Concrete is the most prevalent construction material in the world. And while it has countless benefits in terms of durability and versatility, it can be porous when left unattended. Therefore, if your home or building features any of the following concrete surfaces, consider these best practices for making your concrete watertight.

Concrete Foundation

When looking into waterproofing concrete walls, many people get waterproofing confused with damp proofing. Damp proofing is a process for keeping moisture from the soil from passively being absorbed. It usually involves applying some sort of protective coating to repel water.

While this can be an effective means of keeping water away from a concrete foundation, it is likely not enough in areas of heavy moisture. More comprehensive waterproofing measures will be required to fight flowing water and hydrostatic pressure. This will typically involve applying some sort of waterproof membrane to your foundation walls that directs flowing water down to a drainage mat and away from the structure via pipes.

Some important steps to take when waterproofing a concrete foundation include:

  • Clean the surface of the foundation to ensure that there is no visible debris clinging to the concrete
  • Fill large cracks with grout or other concrete sealant
  • Apply the waterproof membrane to the fully cured concrete wall. If the concrete is not cured, water vapor escaping from the concrete can prevent the membrane from bonding
  • Add a drainage mat to protect the foundation during backfill

Concrete Walls

Although the same process for waterproofing the foundation can be used for concrete walls, it may not be necessary unless you live in an area of particularly heavy precipitation. A quicker, more cost-effective method would be to apply a pmma waterproofing product to your above-grade walls. A multi-layer system keeps PMMA treated walls from absorbing water, chemicals, and any other deleterious substances are known to mar the appearance and structural integrity of concrete.

The best PMMA coatings are known for their fast cure times, needing less than an hour for each coat to be ready. In addition, PMMA is known for its elite adhesion to concrete surfaces and durability in a wide range of weather conditions, making it an ideal choice for buildings that will face sub-freezing temperatures. Finally, a PMMA coat can actually improve the appearance of exposed concrete walls, as it can be manufactured in a wide array of colors and designs for a decorative effect.

Concrete Garage Floors

Garage floors may get overlooked when it comes to waterproofing a home, as they are not directly exposed to moisture. However, they are introduced to water in unique ways, such as through water dripping off of cars or from snow melting off of boots. As most people do not have the same sense of urgency for cleaning their garage as they do interior elements of their home, this water can often be left standing with no recourse other than being absorbed by the floor.

To avoid the damage that will accompany this process, homeowners need to consider the best methods for waterproofing concrete garage floor surfaces. While there are a number of layered epoxy products that can be used for sealing concrete garage floors, the best option is likely a latex epoxy garage floor paint. This innovative product outperforms regular floor paint in a number of ways, offering elite durability that protects the garage floor from twisting or skidding to keep it waterproof for years to come.

Concrete Patio

Concrete patios should be protected with a high-quality masonry waterproofer that will not only resist water, but hold up in the face of dirt, extreme temperatures, and heavy foot traffic. In addition, it is always worthwhile to shade your concrete patio with a louvered pergola to keep the surface out of direct contact with moisture as much as possible.

Concrete Driveway

A concrete driveway is another surface that needs some special consideration. While a quality masonry sealant is a great way for keeping a concrete driveway from absorbing water, you also need to make sure that the driveway does not crack or buckle due to erosion of the substrate. As a result, it is a great idea to install a slot drain into the surface of your concrete driveway. This will help prevent surface water from running off of the driveway and washing away the surrounding areas, filtering water down and away from the home, and depositing it in a more desirable area.

The Best Ways to Waterproof Concrete Surfaces

Concrete is undoubtedly one of the best options for construction materials. However, it does have the tendency to be porous without some treatment. Therefore, applying a waterproof membrane to your concrete foundation, adding a PMMA coating to your concrete walls, using a latex epoxy paint for your concrete garage floors, treating your concrete patios with a high-quality masonry sealant, and adding a slot drain to your concrete driveway are a few of the best ways to protect your concrete surfaces from water damage.

Brian Jeffries is the content director for the Innovative Building Materials blog and a content writer for the building materials industry. He is focused on helping fellow homeowners, contractors, and architects discover materials and methods of construction that save money, improve energy efficiency, and increase property value.

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