Waterproofing a basement can be a big job or a simple one, depending on how much water is getting in. A basement that regularly has standing water requires the help of professionals. However, basements that just have a damp feel or the walls are wet without actual standing water can easily be handled by the average homeowner. Here is what you need to know before you start working on the walls.
It Starts Outside
There’s no doubt that proper sealing doesn’t start with paint and chemicals. It begins with dealing with the foundation outside the house. Patrol the entire area around your home. Look carefully at the ground as it meets the house. Don’t neglect to check areas because landscaping is in the way. Move the landscaping as needed to check every area. The dirt should consistently be graded away from the house, allowing water to shed out into the yard and not against your foundation wall. Any areas of improper grading must be corrected.
What is the Best?
The best basement wall sealer is the one that will work with your needs. That may sound lame, but it actually isn’t when you stop to think about it. How wet the basement gets will dictate what kind of basement sealer you should invest in. If your basement regularly has several inches of standing water, you may need to invest in professional work that is done from the outside of the home. However, basements that are slightly damp will benefit from an affordable and effective sealer. Here are a few of the options you can consider.
Touted as the only interior sealer that will even keep basements with standing water dry, this product is a great one to try before calling in the backhoes. It is a multi-step system involving the use of PermaFlex, a LRB (Liquid Rubber Base) and special TAV (Thickening Activator).
After preparing the walls and floor by scrubbing away any loose concrete or grout, two coats of PermaFlex are applied. Rough surfaces like cinder block walls will require three coats of PermaFlex. The LRB is then mixed with the TAV to patch any cracks, holes, seams, joints or other rough area. A final topcoat of PermaFlex is applied to complete the process.
Available at Home Depot, this one of the best waterproofing paint choices and is appropriate for a generally damp basement that does not have standing water. It will provide waterproofing up to ten pounds of hydrostatic pressure. Two coats are recommended, and you should wait four hours between applying coats.
Another paint-on treatment, DryLok offers a product that can withstand up to twelve pounds of hydrostatic pressure, or the equivalent of a 26 foot wall of water. Two coats are recommended.
Appropriate for us with water pressure below 20 PSI, DAMPLOCK provides more protection from water penetrating walls. Specifically designed for the walls of your basement, it is easily applied with a roller or brush. The manufacturer does recommend checking the weather before applying. The work should only be done when the weather will stay dry for at least 24 hours.
Designed to keep out water and radon gas, there are several products available for private, home use. RadonSeal provides the only sealer products that come with a lifetime guarantee that water will not come back in. The spray-on chemical actually penetrates up to four inches into the concrete where it expands and cures as a mineral. The equivalent of adding concrete into the walls, without messy injections, this system is appropriate for basements with seeping walls and musty odors. This permanent treatment will never have to be touched up and it will not be pushed back out by external water pressure.
Ventilation and Safety
All waterproofing systems involving paint-on or spray-on chemicals will have odors that can cause dizziness or illness. You must ensure that the room is ventilated. Windows should be opened for fresh air. Place windows in some of the fans blowing air out to help remove the fumes. Masks are also encouraged for safety as well as goggles and protective gloves.
Apply a Wall Sealer
Applying a concrete wall sealer is highly recommended before finishing any basement. While not absolutely necessary in basements that are known to stay dry, it is a simple thing that will provide you with peace-of-mind. Treating the interior walls will help eliminate musty odors in the basement and is appropriate for basements with a generally damp feel to them.
If your basement has actual water seepage, it is vital that you invest in a quality wall sealer. Follow the manufacturer’s directions exactly. Quality wall sealers should usually be applied over unpainted walls or floor. The concrete should also be cleaned beforehand to remove all dirt and loose debris.
Finally, if you are dealing with large amounts of water in the basement, you should be prepared for the fact that you may need to call in the professionals. They can dig out around the foundation and seal the walls from the outside for a permanent cure. They can also install special systems around the inside perimeter of the basement to keep water drained away. While you may not want to spend the money on these services, it may be necessary to keep the basement dry.
These are the top water proofing products on the market. They are relatively easy to use and will allow you to rest easy, knowing that the basement will stay dry. Before investing in the materials needed to finish this living space, invest in a product that will keep the walls dry and musty odors at bay.