Damp Proofing The Outside Foundation Walls

A basement with flaking, chipping waterproof paint.

Most homes built after the 1950's have been treated with damp proofing.

However, wet and damp, leaking basement walls remains a widespread problem across Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

Damp proofing a foundation wall is a process that involves using a mixture (typically tar- or asphalt-based) on the outside surface of foundation walls. These coatings are normally black in appearance.

The goal of damp proofing is to prevent moisture fro passing through the concrete walls into the interior space of your basement or crawl space.

Most modern homes have a damp-proof coating, which was installed to meet local building code requirements as the home was being constructed.

However, these coatings will often fail several years after the home has been constructed. And while they are easy to install as the home is being constructed, damp-proof coatings are difficult and expensive to install several years after the home was built.

In this section, we'll explain why Basement Systems does not recommend damp proofing your foundation to waterproof it. We'll also explain what we do suggest if you want dry, clean-looking basement walls.

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A basement wall covered in a white, flaky mineral salt known as efflorescence.

Damp-proofing mixtures are generally designed with either a tar- or asphalt-based mixture.

Applying them is a tricky business -- if they're not applied just right, the black coating will be visible along the soil line.

Problems With Damp Proofing

Damp proofing with tar- and asphalt-based mixtures is a limited treatment method that will eventually fail.

As early as two years after a home has been constructed, the foundation walls will begin to show signs of stress, in the form of cracks and crevices.

When damp-proofing products cure and set, they will become rigid and brittle. Meanwhile, cracks will form as the concrete expands naturally with changing temperatures and moisture levels.

As the concrete expands and cracks, the damp-proof coating will be unable to stretch to bridge the openings. This will cause the products to start to crack and flake off the walls, allowing moisture to penetrate the walls. This process usually begins within just a few years of being applied.

Damp-proof products are also highly susceptible to extreme weather conditions. Heavy rain, cold, and acidic soil conditions will also hasten the breakdown of the coatings.

Waterproofing Vs. Damp Proofing

Damp proofing is not intended to keep all water and moisture out of your home. Instead, its goal is to retard the moisture infiltration into your home. In other words, some moisture will still enter your home through the walls.

Additionally, damp proofing does not resist water well enough to hold back a head of water, or to prevent oversaturation of the foundation from ground water, extreme humidity, or prolonged exposure to moisture.

If your goal is to dry your basement, this is not the solution you're looking for. Instead, you should explore options that involve waterproofing the basement.

A basement with bright blue waterproof paint that is heavily peeling and flaking off the walls.

To damp proof an exterior foundation wall, it will first need to be exposed.

This means that all the dirt the home will need to be excavated -- an expensive and time-consuming project.

Damp Proofing An Existing Home

After the home is built (when soil has been filled in around the outside of your foundation) installing a damp-proof coating around your home becomes a major challenge.

Before the coating can be applied, the entire exterior of your home will need to be excavated. Anything along those edges, including porches, patios, walkways, gardens, foliage, and other landscaping will need to be removed.

The piles of dirt that are excavated will be returned once the damp-proof coating has cured. Since the soil has been loosened during the excavation, it will begin to settle downwards in the months following the digging. You will need to regrade your soil in a year to prevent water from collecting in the dip that will form in the soil.

The damp-proofing application that will be applied will be identical to the one that previously failed to keep back moisture. In time, this one will also fail.

Is Damp Proofing Less Expensive Than Waterproofing?

Damp proofing a foundation is a time-consuming, labor-intensive process that involves heavy equipment. Waterproofing a basement from the interior is much faster, with most jobs being completed in a single day.

Because of this, damp proofing will generally cost as much as twice as much as simply waterproofing from the interior.

A basement wall that's been upgraded with a plastic paneling that will keep it waterproof and attractive.

Turn your problem into an opportunity! Instead of digging out the outside walls, install a waterproof wall product on the inside.

Products like our ZenWall, displayed above, will keep back moisture and leave your basement walls looking better than ever.

Stopping Humidity From Basement Walls

It is much simpler to address the problem of moisture from your leaking basement walls from the interior -- where no excavation is necessary.

If your home is also leaking, an interior waterproofing system is highly recommended. This would be installed before any wall products.

At Basement Systems, we've developed six different basement wall products that are appropriate for basements with moisture issues and leaking walls.

Each of these wall products will hold back humidity, and can be tied into our drainage systems to direct water leaking from the walls to a sump pump.

Along with addressing the moisture issues in your basement, our walls are also able to improve the appearance and energy efficiency of your home.

Our wall products attach mechanically to your foundation walls, installing in a day, or perhaps two, by a crew of our basement experts.

Learn more about our basement wall products.

Create A Comfortable, Dry, Attractive Basement!

At Basement Systems, we have just what you need to address wet, leaking, and ugly basement walls. Our basement wall products can make your home a more comfortable, beautiful place, all while solving an important problem in your home.

We offer free basement wall repair quotes throughout Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. To schedule a free, no-obligation appointment, call or e-mail us today!

Our free quotes include a personal consultation, an on-site inspection and measurement, and a written quote for pricing. Before our visit, we'll also send ahead a full-color copy of our waterproofing book. Contact us today for your free quote!