WHAT ARE THE BEST PRODUCTS FOR WATERPROOFING ?
Next- generation membranes, high-performance protective water-based and solvent-free liquid products, applicable in the most extreme conditions and guaranteed to be long-lasting. Technical innovation that offers outstanding performance solutions for specific problems.
Waterproofing design is one of the fundamental steps that must be taken for both new build and refurbishment projects. An accurate definition of the most suitable waterproofing product or system for different types of buildings, or even parts of the building – basements, cellars, balconies, terraces, bathrooms, kitchens, etc. – is now possible thanks to high quality and high-performance innovative solutions, specifically designed to preserve and protect these different areas against the widest range of problems.
Factors that influence the choice of product or system to be used include the type of the building, its location and the temperature changes it must withstand during the year. An effective maintenance regime is also essential, particularly with flat roofs, and this is sometimes overlooked. Consideration must be given to the passage of time and the constant contact with the elements which can modify and weaken waterproofing properties if proper maintenance is not carried out.
A further important element to consider when designing a waterproofing system, is the issue of energy conservation. More and more designers are incorporating flat roof waterproofing as a component in building’s insulation system, thus combining energy savings and sustainability. This is possible thanks to reflective liquid waterproofing products, since reflectance considerably reduces heat absorption from the sun, making it possible to limit the use of air conditioning equipment during the hottest months of the year. When it comes to reflective liquid waterproofing products, in addition to the intrinsic properties of waterproofing, it is necessary to evaluate solutions that guarantee protection from sunlight over time, thus maintaining their characteristic snow-white colour that ensures maximum reflective power without rapidly greying and thus losing their reflective power.
Similarly, water ingress – the main target of waterproofing work – can be caused by different factors: it can be rising damp due to frequent rainfall, ingress caused by poor installation or a failing system, or gradual decline due to the constant presence of stagnant water…all of these possibilities should be analysed and dealt with using the right tools and products. There is no unique product for every need, but each problem has its own solution.
Let us start our analysis of waterproofing systems and products for the roof, certainly one of the fundamental zones of buildings for water ingress. The products to use for this purpose are bituminous membranes and liquid waterproofing products. The latter is a technical solution, that is characterized by the ease and speed of its application, as well as its high quality performance. Modern technology, however, goes one step further, providing professionals with complete waterproofing systems including special mortars that can be applied even on very humid surfaces and at extreme temperatures (e.g., from 0 to + 45°C), useful for restoring substrates. Their result will be a perfectly homogenous surface, ready for the application of the waterproofing product. And since the roof is the part of the building in direct contact with outside weather, the waterproofing system used must ensure maximum resistance to damaging factors such as freeze – thaw cycles, UV rays, and water ingress.
Should the decision be made to specify a liquid waterproofing system, water-based solutions can contribute positively towards environmental sustainability: these products do not contain solvents and are therefore not harmful to either man or the environment. Furthermore, they do not require primers for their use, as they are supplied ready-to-use and guarantee excellent performance and durability over time.
Balconies and terraces, like flat roofs, are certainly the parts of the building that are subject to weather degradation: rainfall, air humidity, changing temperatures, solar radiation, as well as frequent water stagnation can all cause problems. Furthermore, balconies and terraces are often subjected to frequent foot traffic and movement of objects, e.g., tables and chairs – additional aspects to be taken into consideration. Another feature to consider when choosing the most suitable waterproofing product is the type of finishing that will be applied. For example, if ceramic material is to be laid, it will be necessary to apply a double layer of high-quality bitumen-polymer membrane, with a cold flexibility of at least -10°C first, followed by a micro-drilled LDPE sliding layer and then a load-distributing layer. The latter will then have to be protected with a cement-based or liquid bitumen-polymer waterproofing agent that also acts as a bonding bridge for the ceramic flooring laying.
In the case of maintenance and if a coloured finish is desired, it is possible to opt for liquid waterproofing products that resist water stagnation and allow foot traffic, even only a few hours after laying. If high resistance to puncturing is required or continuous foot traffic is expected, it is better to specify the use of new generation waterproofing products that offer outstanding results even under extreme conditions. If any moisture is present within the substrate, it is necessary to select an appropriate wind-resistant, breathable waterproofing product. For the protection of balcony and terrace surfaces, it is advisable to use water-repellent, water-based solutions which provide an effective weather shield and protect the surface.
External moisture does not only affect horizontal surfaces. Outer walls are also in close contact with moisture in the air and suffer from the same temperature fluctuations as roof coverings. For external vertical walls it is advisable to use a waterproofing compound specially formulated for vertical applications. The most effective products will not sag or produce drips and will provide exceptional protection to combat effects of permanent moisture. Resistance to frost and freeze-thaw cycles as well as potential surface expansion are also important factors to consider.
All that remains is to examine is the lower part of the building, areas such as underground garages and cellars. Needless to say, waterproofing garages means facing particular challenges, due to the open-air vulnerability which is often targeted by rain and snow, UV rays and the frequent presence of water stagnation. Garage waterproofing involves the use of liquid waterproofing agents that guarantee high mechanical resistance and enhanced protection against abrasion – one of the primary causes of infiltration. Once waterproofed, horizontal surfaces and ramps should provide a consistent and reliable surface for trafficking. In such cases, the waterproofing product or system should be able to withstand freeze-thaw cycles over time and offer maximum resistance to wind-uplift.
When looking at the subject of waterproofing, it is immediately clear that the best waterproofing products are those designed and manufactured with the aim of solving specific problems. These solutions are easy to use and allow to buildings to return to use within a short period of time –producing positive results to the mutual satisfaction of both the installing company and its clients. In conclusion, we can say that only a correct waterproofing design, combined with exceptional products and workmanship, can answer the question of the title and provide long-lasting weatherproof protection.
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