Understanding the commercial waterproofing process

Most of us think our commercial buildings are safe and sturdy until we (and other people) start experiencing breathing problems or start seeing signs or rot, fungi alongside wet basement walls and pools of water inside the building.

Every building needs to be completely waterproof to be habitable, comfortable and long-lasting. Since waterproofing is a critical job, we have contractors who specialize in this role.

Like most people, however, you must have asked yourself:
“What happens when a commercial building is being waterproofed?”
“Is it not supposed to be waterproof in the first place?”If you call an expert waterproofing contractor in Miami, there are certain things they will do to ensure your building is waterproof.

Let’s begin.

The problem with a poorly waterproofed building
Concrete is not enough to protect your building from water. The building is propped up by minerals and chemicals; when they mix with water, the resulting reaction can lead to spalls and cracks in the concrete.
As it rains and water slowly seeps into the building, there are certain common consequences that result. They include the following:

• Damaged to timbers
• Increase in mold and other fungi
• Damaged carpets
• Damaged plasterboard ceilings (they also collapse)
• Corrosion of metal, resulting in concrete cancer and more structural problems
• High repair costs

Of course, we always advise any commercial building owner to consider utilizing professional techniques to waterproof their buildings during and after the construction process.

The primary process (during construction)
A very critical element used to waterproof a building is an impervious membrane. This has to be installed in the high moisture levels, like kitchens, fountains, lobbies, and in the below-grade areas, such as tunnels, basements, vaults and foundation walls. A contractor can install these membranes on either the “positive” or “negative” side of the building. Since the former is the more popular option, and it’s the one that is usually more effective, let’s discuss it a little more.

The positive side
This means that the contractor has to create a waterproof barrier on the side with applied hydrostatic pressure to prevent water from passing through the wall. For instance, the barrier can be placed on the outside surface closest to the soil for a foundation. If addressing a fountain, the barrier will be inside (since the water is inside).

If working on below-grade areas, the earth can be backed so that the membrane is installed right after the foundation is set. If your construction is taking place in an urban setting, however, this may not work.
Thankfully, the membrane can be placed on the shoring face before the foundation is cast. When the concrete is poured, it will fuse with the wall while curing.

What is used?
To waterproof your building properly, there are many options that are considered:
A sheet system, fluid-applied material or hybrid systems can be used. This includes rubberized asphalts and thermoplastics. A fluid-applied membrane is very similar to the ones you’ll see being used in roofing. An expert will brush or roll on in liquid form before curing into a monolithic membrane. As for the hybrid system, a fluid membrane and a fabric material are mixed together to reinforce the membrane for a stronger barrier.
Alternatively, bentonite clay can be used. This is a volcanic ash-derivative that is usually applied in many forms, including sheet, panel or spray. It creates a sturdy clay barrier.

Addressing weaknesses
Perhaps decades or years after this process has been completed, your building may start showing signs of water inflow. This can happen faster if you did not receive expert roof coating services on time.
If your building starts letting water in and you report the issue to us, we will locate and isolate all the problem areas and immediately start the rectification process. In this case, we may employ liquid-based solutions, cement-based solutions or bitumen-based solutions.

Cement-based solution
Since this is usually the simplest method to apply, it is most commonly used to correct cracks on walls, floors, terraces and other areas. When applied, the cement dries and plugs the space created by the cracking. Unfortunately, many of our experts have noted that the fact that cement dries hard makes it unable to expand and contract based on the temperature fluctuations. This means that over time, it may become ineffective, and you may face the same problem again.

Torch on membranes
Although this solution is usually labor-intensive, we’ve noticed that is very effective at keeping water outside a building years after its construction. Torch on membranes are made using a unique combination of bitumen and polymers. After marking the application area, the mixture is rolled out with a little overlap on the former roll. It is heated with a propane torch, and the bitumen melts and sticks to the surface. This process ensures the seams melt together to create a waterproof seal. Since bitumen is very elastic, it is able to contract and expand without melting or cracking, providing a lot of tolerance for a wide temperature range.

Liquid-based solution
Our experts might consider using this method based on their assessment, as it’s generally a highly dependable solution. What we do here is apply the liquid, which transforms into an elastic coating. This substance effectively sets into the structure directly and offers the necessary flexibility. The fact that this substance is designed to provide UV resistance, and that it usually flows into hard-to-reach areas makes it a great solution. In case you’re wondering, a good example of this substance is polyurethane. It is highly versatile and suitable for flat roof materials, like cement mortar, concrete and terrazzo.

After the holes and cracks are sealed, we will thereafter apply a fresh coat of paint to conceal all the dents and scrapes to turn your Miami building into a more attractive, comfortable and professional-looking place.
Generally, you should not wait for the leaking to become a serious problem. Contact the professionals to protect your building and your business today.