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The Importance of Masonry Waterproofing in Climate-Prone Areas

Masonry is a strong and durable building material that seems impervious to the elements. However, wet wintry weather can cause damage to bricks and mortar that can shorten their lifespan.

One of the most important moisture management details on a masonry structure is the weep. A poorly designed weep can create a moisture problem that will last.

Temperature Control

Masonry waterproofing prevents moisture penetration, which can damage brick walls. Without proper moisture barriers, masonry walls are susceptible to algae growth, hazardous mildew, and deteriorating mortar. Waterproofing also eliminates efflorescence, the white powdery substance that can form on the surface of masonry or brick walls and indicate the presence of moisture.

Waterproofing also reduces frost damage to porous masonry materials. Frost action can result in hairline cracks and degradation of the masonry wall. Studies have shown that incorporating integral water repellents into masonry products before construction can significantly reduce the degradation of calcium silicate brick by frost.

Several types of masonry waterproofing treatments include clear masonry coatings and penetrant sprays. Clear treatments are often called “damp-proof paints” because they create an impervious moisture barrier. They do not allow masonry to breathe and may change the color of the brick. Penetrant sprays penetrate the brick’s face, lining the pores for lasting water resistance.

Moisture Control

In areas with heavy rainfall, masonry structures are often required by building codes or standard construction practices to be waterproofed. Keeping water out of masonry can help extend its life and durability, whether it’s a concrete floor or a brick wall.

Because of the material’s naturally porous characteristics, masonry walls deteriorate more quickly when exposed to rainwater. Water enters the pores of brick ruins and mortar. It causes surface staining, especially with efflorescence (white, powdery crystalline salts), which can be difficult to remove from brick surfaces without damaging the material.

Breathable waterproofing masonry creams prevent surface staining and deterioration while lining the pores of masonry and allowing moisture to escape naturally. This helps to avoid damp problems such as brick shrinkage, surface staining, cracking, and spalling. Research has also shown that breathable membranes can reduce the concentration of culturable fungi in the walls of buildings, which can help protect indoor health.

Humidity Control

Masonry walls and ceilings are subject to moisture ingress from the outdoor environment. Water within living spaces can cause several issues, including damage to wall coverings, structural timbers, and masonry chimneys. Water penetration from rainfall or snow can also affect the integrity of the masonry itself, causing severe cracking and spalling.

This can then lead to the deterioration of bricks and stains on masonry chimneys, as well as rusting of metal aspects of the fireplace. The deterioration of the chimney itself can then cause serious damage to the house’s structure.

Keeping indoor humidity levels in the ideal sweet spot between 40% and 50% helps reduce the spread of bacteria, germs, and biological organisms that can cause or worsen respiratory conditions. It can also help prevent 

Energy Efficiency

Energy costs are a significant expense for many commercial buildings. By making your building more efficient, you can reduce energy costs by using less energy to heat and cool the space. This also cuts down on environmental gasses that contribute to the greenhouse effect.

Untreated masonry is an effective conductor of hot and cold temperatures, which leads to high utility bills. By waterproofing your brick structure, you can improve energy efficiency by keeping the interior of the building insulated and stopping air from conducting through it.

Non-waterproofed masonry is susceptible to moisture infiltration from rain and wind-driven rainfall (WDR). Water absorbed by the masonry can lead to moisture enrichment, ineffective insulation, freeze-thaw damage, biodeterioration and indoor discomfort. Waterproofing the masonry with a silicone-based product creates an invisible barrier against moisture penetration and enables the structure to breathe. This eliminates the gritty texture that can develop in walls and other masonry surfaces, preventing dampness from damaging underlying sheathing materials.