Friday, February 22, 2013


Since our beginnings, we have sought shelter as protection from the elements. Yet, even today, after centuries of technological advances in materials and construction techniques, we are still confronted by nature’s elements contaminating our constructed shelters. This is not due to a lack of effective waterproofing systems and products.

Waterproofing problems continue to plague us due to the increasing complexity of shelter construction, a disregard for the most basic waterproofing principles, and an inability to coordinate interfacing between the multitude of construction systems involved in a single building.

Adequately controlling groundwater, rainwater, and surface water will prevent damage and avoid unnecessary repairs to building envelopes. In fact, water is the most destructive weathering element of concrete, masonry, and natural stone structures. Water continues to damage or completely destroy more buildings and structures than war or natural disasters. Water and moisture infiltration is also responsible for mold formation and the related health issues of building occupants.

Waterproofing techniques preserve a structure’s integrity and usefulness through an understanding of natural forces and their effect during life-cycling. Waterproofing also involves choosing proper designs and materials to counter the detrimental effects of these natural forces.

Site construction requires combining numerous building trades and systems into a building skin to prevent water infiltration. Our inability to tie together these various com- ponents effectively causes the majority of water and weather intrusion problems. Actual experience has shown that the majority of water intrusion problems occur within a relatively minute portion of a building’s total exposed surface area. An inability to control installation and details linking various building facade components that form the building’s exterior skin creates the multitude of problems confronting the design and construction industry.

While individual waterproofing materials and systems continue to improve, no one pays attention to improving the necessary and often critical detailing that is required to transition from one building facade component to the next. Furthermore, we seem to move further away from the superior results achieved by applying basic waterproofing principles, such as maximizing roof slopes, to achieve desired aesthetics instead.

There is no reason that aesthetics cannot be fully integrated with sound waterproofing guidelines.

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