All above-grade waterproof systems are vulnerable to a host of detrimental conditions due to their exposure to weathering elements and substrate performance under these conditions. Exposure of the entire above-grade building envelope requires resistance from many severe effects, including the following:

● Ultraviolet weathering
● Wind loading
● Structural loading due to snow or water
● Freeze–thaw cycles
● Thermal movement
● Differential movement
● Mildew and algae attack
● Chemical and pollution attack from chloride ions, sulfates, nitrates, and carbon dioxide Chemical and pollution attack is becoming ever more frequent and difficult to contend with. Chloride ions (salts) are extremely corrosive to the reinforcing steel present in all structures, whether it is structural steel, reinforcing steel, or building components such as shelf angles.

Even if steel is protected by encasement in concrete or is covered with a brick facade, water that penetrates these substrates carries chloride ions that attack the steel. Once steel begins to corrode it increases greatly in size, causing spalling of adjacent materials and structural cracking of substrates.

All geographic areas are subject to chloride ion exposure. In coastal areas, salt spray is concentrated and spread by wind conditions; in northern climates, road salts are used during winter months. Both increase chloride quantities available for corrosive effects on envelope components.

Acid rain now affects all regions of the world. When sulfates and nitrates present in the atmosphere are mixed with water, they create sulfuric and nitric acids (acid rain), which affect all building envelope components. Acids attack the calcium compounds of concrete and masonry surfaces, causing substrate deterioration. They also affect exposed metals on a structure such as flashing, shelf angles, and lintel beams.

Within masonry or concrete substrates, a process of destructive weathering called car- bonation occurs to unprotected, unwaterproofed surfaces. Carbonation is the deterioration of cementitious compounds found in masonry substrates when exposed to the atmospheric pollutant carbon dioxide (automobile exhaust).

Carbon dioxide mixes with water to form carbonic acid, which then penetrates a masonry or concrete substrate. This acid begins deteriorating cementitious compounds that form part of a substrate.

Carbonic acid also causes corrosion of embedded reinforcing steel such as shelf angles by changing the substrate alkalinity that surrounds this steel. Reinforcing steel, which is normally protected by the high alkalinity of concrete, begins to corrode when carbonic acid change lowers alkalinity while also deteriorating the cementitious materials.

Roofing systems will deteriorate because of algae attack. Waterproof coatings become brittle and fail due to ultraviolet weathering. Thermal movement will split or cause cracks in a building envelope. This requires that any waterproof material or component of the building envelope be resistant to all these elements, thus ensuring their effectiveness and, in turn, protecting a building during its life-cycling.

Finally, an envelope is also subject to building movement, both during and after construction. Building envelope components must withstand this movement; otherwise, designs must include allowances for movement or cracking within the waterproofing material.

Cracking of waterproofing systems occur because of structural settlement, structuralloading, vibration, shrinkage of materials, thermal movement, and differential movement.

To ensure successful life-cycling of a building envelope, allowances for movement must be made, including expansion and control joints, or materials must be chosen that can withstand expected movement.

All these exposure problems must be considered when choosing a system for water- proofing above-grade envelope portions. Above-grade waterproofing systems include the following horizontal and vertical applications:

● Vertical
● Clear repellents
● Cementitious coatings
● Elastomeric coatings
● Horizontal
● Deck coatings
● Clear deck sealers
● Protected membranes

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