Waterproofing in Construction
Mastering Waterproofing in Construction
What is waterproofing? Put simply, it is the process of keeping water in or out of structures to avoid loss or to minimize water damage. Roof waterproofing, basement or below grade waterproofing, waterproofing systems in multistorey car parks are examples of where water must be kept out. On the other hand, water in tanks or similar structures for wastewater management in industrial plants are examples where liquids must be retained. Waterproofing also contributes to sustainable construction because it increases the service life of structures by preventing water damage to concrete from freeze-thaw, alkali-aggregate reactions, sulphate attack, de-icer salt scaling and carbonation. Avoiding repairs or even demolition lowers the environmental impact through reduced material consumption.
Many types of membranes are used in waterproofing, and there is no winners here - all are suitable depending on the conditions and intended use. Firstly, there are liquid membranes, capable of forming a fully bonded, seamless waterproofing layer that avoids welds and seams which typically represent the weaker spots in any waterproofing system. When installed professionally, the versatility of liquid membranes makes them suitable for a wide range of structures, from roofs to cellars, including car parks, and from industrial plants to infrastructure such as bridges, dams or water treatment plants. Then, there are prefabricated membranes based on materials such as bitumen, PVC or EPDM.. By selecting the right waterproofing and protection products, we can also minimize the environmental impact of the construction project by reducing CO2 emissions in the process and along the whole service life of the structure.
1. Types of technologies for waterproofing
We have mentioned the different types of waterproofing membrane but what technologies do they rely on to give them the features that we require? To begin with, we should understand that the technologies and solutions we apply must fulfill the requirements of the project including structure, concrete quality, surface quality, whether it is a new job or refurbishment. The common technologies are listed:
- Xolutec(R) - our unique technology developed for improved durability, to solve the problems of demanding environments.
- Rigid coatings
- Flexible and Elastic coatings
Among these technologies, the application process of PUA membranes requires the material to be hot sprayed, allowing an extremely short curing time of only a few seconds. Once cured, they show very high crack bridging properties without mesh. In addition, Epoxy coatings are very common in the market and are available either with or without mesh. Although they show good chemical resistance, they do tend to have slow curing time and are sensitive to humidity during application. Cementitious coatings, however, could be used on humid substrates but show low chemical resistance. Rigid coatings show good resistance to negative pressure, which is something flexible coatings lack. And lastly, while flexible coatings have the aforementioned disadvantage, they do boast crack bridging properties like the PUA membranes.
1.1 Read more about waterproofing technologies in our blog:
2. Car Park Waterproofing
As a specialist in seamless traffic systems, we offer tailor-made solutions for most car park applications. Our MasterSeal Traffic systems are not only outstandingly well-suited to meet functional requirements but also allow designers considerable creative leeway by choosing from a variety of colors. The requirements for car park decking are highly diverse depending on the area of application. The roof level of multi-storey car parks is often not sheltered and is permanently exposed to the elements where the decks are exposed to exhaust fumes, rain, brake fluid, de-icing salts and extreme temperature variations. Car park decks underground need to be protected from penetrating soil-moisture. In between the car park concrete structures must withstand severe loads from both moving and parked vehicles. A solid concrete slab may seem extremely durable or indestructible but even the most solid car park structure needs protection against these harsh conditions. Long-lasting protection prevents degradation and severe concrete damage and increase the durability and safety of the structure.
To secure long term service we recommend regular technical inspections to prevent problems before they arise. Regular repair and maintenance keep structures functional and safe for years to come.
2.1 Car park deck waterproofing solutions
Car park surfaces face extreme mechanical, chemical, and dynamic loads. MasterSeal Traffic systems have been specially developed for parking structures for new buildings or refurbishments. The systems consist of several liquid applied layers with each system-layer offering specific properties to withstand the intended stresses and meet the requirements of any given project ensuring long-term durability and low maintenance.
The membrane is at the heart of the system as it must ensure protection against water penetration, even on moving substrates. The membrane combines good mechanical resistance with elasticity. This combination, along with high elongation and a reliable crack-bridging performance over the lifecycle of the structure gives the system its durability.
2.2 MasterSeal Traffic car park waterproofing systems
Most top deck of multi-story car parks are exposed to the elements all year. For the long-term protection of the concrete substrate, surfaces must be coated with systems that are resistant to chemical and mechanical loads, ultraviolet radiation, rain, snow and ice as well as extreme temperature variations.
Our solvent free high-elastomeric polyurethane and polyurea membranes are crack-bridging, and can be spray applied for easy application and cure times are short for almost instant protection and return to service. A wide range of topcoat colors opens the door to a variety of individual design possibilities and offer additional high level of mechanical resistance to surface wear.
Intermediate decks are subjected to continuous mechanical stress from traffic movement. The surface is also under attack from oil, petrol and other aggressive substances such as coolant and brake fluid. We provide a complete range of tried and tested systems which have been designed to withstand these conditions. Whether you need a coating with pronounced crack-bridging properties or a conventional coating, the system can be adapted to the individual needs of the structure. The availability of many colors means that each deck can be color-coded with the anti-slip properties required for traffic, parking and walking areas also being precisely installed.
Ramps connect the levels and are subject to extreme mechanical loads. The high traffic levels and the gripping of the moving wheels significantly increases shear which wears the deck surface away. In addition, ramps and spiral ramps are well-known accident black spots. It is especially important to use an enhanced anti-slip surface here.
While structures above ground level need to be protected against rain water penetrating from above, parking decks at or below ground level need protection against moisture penetrating the structure from below as a result of rising damp or capillary action. The dynamic nature of open-sided car park structures can also be significantly reduced. In these cases, it is important to combine surface protection systems with high-performance primers with special chemistry to resist moisture and lay the foundation for a durable coating.
Our repair mortars are specifically designed not only to meet the demanding requirements of EN 1504-3 (the European standard for concrete repair) but also to offer excellent application properties: easy-to-apply mortars for hand-application on vertical and overhead areas, systems for spray application, and flowable mortars for pourable applications.
2.3 Read more about car park waterproofing technologies in our blog:
2.4 Our waterproofing and protection solutions for car park structures
MasterSeal Traffic systems cover together with the Master Builders Solutions repair and protection range the requirements of any given car park project. Don't forget to check out our local portfolio!
3. Roof Waterproofing – one solution for all roof types!
All buildings need protection against deterioration through the effects of natural elements and weathering. Roofs have a decisive role to play in the durability of the structure as they are the first line of defense against water ingress which makes them one of the most critical parts of a structure. Leaking roofs are often the most visible and commonly experienced failures in a building affecting the functionality of the entire structure.
3.1 What is the best waterproofing for roofs?
MasterSeal liquid roofing systems form a fully bonded, seamless waterproofing membrane. Welds and seams are typically the weaker points of any waterproofing system. Liquid systems have a clear advantage over conventional waterproofing sheeting, especially on roofs with complicated geometries. Liquid systems enable easy detailing by applying the membrane around the details quickly without the need for seams or prefabricated mounded parts. Under normal conditions, the systems can be applied without disrupting business activities. The fast installation and the quick hardening of the membrane are features that bring benefits for all parties.
Our liquid waterproofing systems work on all types of roofs. Our primer toolbox lets MasterSeal Roof systems be applied on most surfaces and, in many cases, even leaking roofs can be repaired without removing the old waterproofing layer. This offers clear time and cost savings, including a reduction in the cost of disposing of the old roofing material.
To secure a long service life, we recommend regular visual inspections. At least once a year and always after extreme weather or similar incidents. Discovering and repairing problems as they arise will keep structures functional and safe for longer.
3.2 The MasterSeal liquid systems for roof waterproofing
The MasterSeal Roof waterproofing hand-applied and hot-sprayed systems consist of multiple layers. The clever composition of these layers contributes to the performance and the durability of the system. The systems are applied, fully bonded to most substrates including concrete, steel, cement screed, glass, reinforced polyester and timber.
MasterSeal P primers: Ensure the adhesion of the waterproofing system to all substrates. Fully bonded membrane systems prevent water circulation between the layers even if there is a leak, helping with detection, location and repair.
MasterSeal M membranes: Once cured, MasterSeal membranes are highly elastic with excellent crack bridging properties, which is necessary to prevent water leakage through cracks in substrates. Membranes can be one or two components and can be spray or hand applied.
MasterSeal TC topcoats: Protect the membrane against weather and UV radiation. Topcoats may be optional but always contribute to improved durability and aesthetic appearance of the finished application.
3.3 Green Roofs
A green or living roof is partially or completely covered with vegetation and a growing medium, which is planted over a waterproofing system that may also include additional elements such as drainage and or irrigation systems.
MasterSeal Roof liquid applied systems create continuous, seamless and fully bonded membranes that are easily adaptable to any roof size and shape and increase the safety and the durability whilst decreasing the installation and maintenance costs of green roofs.
Full adhesion deters root penetration, avoids wind uplift during construction and in rare cases with superior leak location detection. Mechanical resistance reduces the risk of damage during the construction phase and the service life of the roof. And finally, the chemical resistance of the membranes ensures durability if exposed to fertilizers or other chemicals used in gardening activities.
3.4 Read more about roof waterproofing in our blog:
3.5 Our waterproofing and protecting solutions for all roofs
MasterSeal Roofing systems cover together with the Master Builders Solutions repair and protection range the requirements of any given roof project. Don't forget to check out our local portfolio!
4. Basement / Below Grade Waterproofing
A further important topic is below grade waterproofing, where we will concentrate on basement waterproofing. As suggested by the name, below grade waterproofing refers to the process of applying coatings or membranes to the walls of a house or building below ground level in order to prevent water ingress. The importance of waterproofing has already been mentioned, but why basements, why below grade structures? For one thing, good waterproofing serves as a protective barrier between the concrete structure and the ground water, which is especially important in areas where the water table is high because water can contain chemicals that could lead to corrosion and eventually high maintenance costs. Another reason is that below grade structures face a variety of challenges including temperature variations, underground gases, earth movement, pressure from the weight of the building itself and fungal or bacterial attack.
To keep basements or below grade spaces dry, the best option is always to waterproof the positive side (i.e. the side which is in contact with soil) of the basement walls. An example is our pre-applied FPO waterproofing membrane MasterSeal 754 which is highly effective on below ground concrete structures. Consisting of highly flexible polyolefin membrane and a designed non-woven fleece, it provides a durable mechanical bond and saves both time and labor during the application process. If positive-side waterproofing cannot be carried out, especially in remedial jobs, negative-side (i.e. from the inside) waterproofing can be applied. This is not ideal as this method leaves the concrete walls and floors exposed to penetration by humidity and water but can solve the humidity problem on the inside of the below grade room.
4.1 Concrete protection against Radon
In addition to preventing water from penetrating or damaging concrete, we should also take Radon gas into account. After smoking, Radon is the second most common cause of lung cancer in the general population. Being colorless, odorless, and tasteless, Randon typically moves up through the ground into buildings through cracks, pores and other holes in the foundation. It tends to remain in those houses or buildings where we spend long periods of time like schools or offices. Therefore, its mitigation by the application of waterproofing membranes is especially vital for our health and well-being as well as that of the building themselves. Research has shown that our products offer effective protection again both water and Radon. Find out more about this topic here or do not hesitate to contact our colleague for further information.
4.2 Read more about waterproofing below grade in our blog:
4.3 Our waterproofing systems for below grade constructions
Don't forget to check out our local portfolio!
5. Water Management
5.1 Waterproofing clean water reservoirs and tanks
Water management industry is a major topic that covers a wide range of sub-topics related to the use and treatment of water including clean water, wastewater, dams, pipes, channels and aqueducts, power and even industrial plants. It is common knowledge that water is the source of all life and ensuring its retention and maintaining the quality of drinking water and has been a priority since the beginning of humanity. Today the most used materials for water tanks are reinforced concrete or prestressed concrete. However, since the contamination of water can be easily caused by bacteria, viruses, algae, gas intrusion and so on it is of vital importance to utilize proper waterproofing technologies and pay particular attention to quality control to mitigate negative effects especially for drinking water. In addition, there are also strict legal requirements in relation to the storage of drinking water, that we must take into account when choosing waterproofing solutions for potable water facilities. This means that mandatory tests and approvals must be insisted on before applying waterproofing solutions.
5.2 Wastewater treatment
The treatment of wastewater also faces some unique challenges. It might surprise you to learn that our environmental awareness takes its toll on wastewater treatment facilities because reduced water consumption leads to a higher concentration of contaminants, which, in turn, accelerates the corrosion of concrete. Apart from traditional coal tar epoxy coatings which are cost-effective and relatively easy to apply, other technologies and products are also emerging to help overcome these new challenges. To help you plan your project and select the right solutions, check out our digital tool below to get your customized specification report, datasheets, BIM objects, and everything you need!
Our experts have also managed to develop an innovative, reliable and highly efficient concrete waterproofing and protection system – MasterSeal 7000 CR – which provides a better waterproofing experience. Combining resistance to chemical and mechanical impact with effective crack-bridging properties in wastewater systems, MasterSeal 7000 CR reduces the risk of unexpected interruption-of-service and significantly extends maintenance cycles. Its long-term protective effect has also been tested by the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental Safety, and Energy Technology over a five-year period. We can proudly say that MasterSeal 7000 CR has not only been used in European cities such as Poznan, Poland, but also in Asia including the water management facilities at Shanghai Chemical Industry Park, China’s first industrial area specializing in petrochemicals and fine chemistry.
5.3 Dams, Channels, Hydropower plants and other water related structures
Apart from drinking water and wastewater management, the waterproofing of dams, channels, rails, roads and other marine structures is equally important. Used for flood control, water supply, irrigation, navigation and hydropower generation, dams can bring significant benefits to our society. In fact, hydroelectric power accounts for more than 40% of renewable energy generated in Europe! However, the problem is that most European dams were built in the 1960s and the 1970s and have an average life expectancy of 50 years or more. To avoid a decline in their effectiveness and potential threats to the environment as well as human safety, many will need to be refurbished soon.
A success story related to dam refurbishment is the waterproofing of a hydroelectric power plant in Madeira, Portugal. To ensure the uninterrupted operation of the hydropower plant, the hydroelectric reservoir of 70,450 cubic meters had to be protected against leakage and corrosion. The solution provided by us, not only met the requirements for a durable waterproofing solution, but also supported the utility’s commitment to sustainability.
5.4 Read more about water management in our blog:
5.5 Our waterproofing systems for water management facilities
Don't forget to check out our local portfolio!
6. Protecting Concrete Infrastructure
Every driver has most probably experienced it – traffic jams resulting from road maintenance or even demolition of bridges due to unsafe properties. Dramatic accidents, like the collapse of a pedestrian bridge in the US in 2021, prove that there is an urgent need to refurbish crumbling infrastructure worldwide. Nevertheless, there is no need to panic. Through innovative admixture technologies and diligent monitoring, the service life of the structure can be increased and maintenance costs during the life cycle can be minimized. For further information, please feel free to visit our solutions pages for bridges, rail and roads as well as marine structures.
The safety of structures and the deterioration of the concrete from which they are made raises concern in our society, especially for those structures which are over 50 years old. If you look around concrete structures are almost everywhere. Whether residential or commercial buildings, roads, bridges or dams, concrete is a vital element of our built environment and of our lives.
Most of these structures were built in the 60’s and 70’s. Since then, they have been subjected to loads which they may not have been designed for as well as to multiple environmental factors which can contribute to the degradation of the concrete. Today concrete deterioration is a huge challenge. It concerns our safety and our environment. Every minute that an structure is not in operation causes huge costs and a many challenges.
A long and reliable service life of a structure requires regular on-site inspections, maintenance and technically coordinated protection measures. Demolition or re-cycling may be an option but this comes at great cost, in energy, resources and effort. More durable structures are always the more sustainable option.
Causes of premature failure of repairs:
6.1 Read more about waterproofing and protection of infrastructures in our blog:
6.2 Waterproofing for bridge decks
Bridges endure constant exposure to weather, salts, changing temperatures and physical wear. Therefore, unprotected or incorrectly protected concrete structures easily corrode and weaken. Refurbishment of such damage inevitably leads to higher (societal) costs because of the repair itself, interrupted traffic and increased safety measures. A good reason to ensure that the structures are correctly protected from the day that they are completed.
We offer traditional techniques for concrete refurbishment alongside modern technologies such as carbon Fiber reinforced polymers and corrosion inhibitors. Such intervention can give structures a new lease of life ensuring safety, ongoing operation and sustainability. Preventing and reducing corrosion, repairing concrete and cracks, our solutions are formulated to be able to create or restore the bridge to its former strength and improve durability, and aesthetics.
6.3 Our waterproofing and protection systems for bridges
The bridge decks, the joints, the reinforced concrete structures all need the right protection to increase the durability of the structure. Don't forget to check out our local portfolio!
7. Industrial Plants - solutions for structures exposed to a demanding environment
Various systems are available to protect and waterproof concrete structures. Choosing the right system can have an enormous effect on the time required for conducting maintenance and the frequency with which it needs to be carried out. Abrasion, cracks and chemical attacks reduce the service life of concrete structures and increase the frequency of maintenance and repair cycles. As we already know, concrete damage is extremely costly and can even take a facility out of action entirely. For these reasons, choosing the right waterproofing coating for concrete structures is essential. Making the right decision greatly reduces the need for maintenance and avoids the risks of unplanned downtime. Long term performance also depends on the performance features of the solution like crack bridging ability, high mechanical resistance and substrate adhesion along with the product application features of moisture tolerance, cure time and non-sagging on vertical surfaces.
7.1 Biogas digesters and anaerobic digestion
Mechanical and chemical stress impact and leave their mark on the concrete structures and tanks of biogas plants challenging the smooth running of the operation. Biogas is produced from various biomass sources through biochemical processes such as anaerobic digestion. The liquid biomass and the gas that are processed in the biogas digester can be extremely aggressive to concrete. Among the many chemicals is a high concentration of organic acids and hydrogen sulfide. In these aggressive environments for the concrete structure to perform its function and for it to be safe, choosing the right waterproofing and concrete protection solution is a crucial prerequisite.
7.2 8 factors to consider choosing the right waterproofing solution for biogas digesters
- Chemical resistance
- Elastic or crack-bridging characteristics
- Adhesion to concrete
- Temperature resistance
- Impermeability to CO2 and to CH4
- Gas impermeability against methane (leakages…)
- Water tightness against + and – pressure
- Mechanical resistance
Our waterproofing membrane MasterSeal 7000 CR has been specifically designed to address such extreme industrial conditions. MasterSeal 7000 CR is highly resistant to abrasion and biogenic sulfuric acid corrosion and is ideal to withstand the severe conditions that are present in biogas digesters. Its dynamic and static crack-bridging abilities protect concrete structures from cracks prolonging the structure service life. MasterSeal 7000 CR is a unique and reliable solution for both new-build or repair projects. It is not only ideal for use in biogas tanks but also for waterproofing and protecting feedstock storage areas.
7.3 Read more about waterproofing biogas digesters and tanks in our blog:
7.4 Our solutions for waterproofing biogas digesters and tanks
Don't forget to check out our local portfolio!
7.5 Waterproofing of secondary containment structures
The protection of environmental containment and retention basins is often governed by legally prescribed measures with aim of reliably preventing hazardous waste or chemicals from leaking tanks entering the environment. The basins are usually made of concrete and must guarantee the highest sealing security. Even the smallest leak can have serious consequences for humans and the environment. For this reason, it is even more important to regularly check the surfaces of these basins for their sealing function and to repair them immediately. But this is precisely what makes the matter complicated because the choice of surface treatment depends on the construction of the basin, its intended use, the respective chemical substances and the regulations of the legislator. In addition, unfavorable climatic conditions can delay structural restoration work and cause additional costs.
7.6 5 factors to consider choosing a chemical-resistant solution for waterproofing secondary containment structures
- Crack-bridging: With high chemical resistance, crack bridging capabilities generally decrease. Nevertheless, our membranes combine high chemical resistance with elasticity that prevents leakages from substrate movement.
- Temperature resistance: Potential maximum spill temperature must be determined for the optimal selection of the lining.
- Traffic requirements: Different solutions are available to meet the needs of different types and levels of traffic.
- Application method: The type of substrate, access to the site and other details will all influence whether spray or hand application is the best method.
- Chemical resistance: To ensure optimum protection, the chosen system needs to offer maximum resistance against the substances you plan to store for at least 72 hours. Nevertheless, a longer durability of the membrane in contact with the chemicals reduces the need of repairs in case of occasional spillages.
7.7 Read more about waterproofing secondary containment tanks in our blog:
7.8 Our solutions for chemical-resistant waterproofing of secondary containment tanks
Don't forget to check out our local portfolio!
7.9 Waterproofing onshore and land-based fish farming concrete tanks
Understanding the fish farming business is important to be able to provide the right solution. Our experts are familiar with the high hygiene and quality standards for surfaces in the food sector, as well as the stresses caused by mechanical, climatic or chemical influences. The demands of the fish farm industry are extreme, and the many requirements together must create a natural environment for the cultivation of healthy fish. Our certified waterproofing solution for concrete fish farm tanks ensures first and foremost safe and efficient operations by waterproofing and protecting the concrete structures against leaks and degradation. The spray-applied polyurea waterproofing system MasterSeal 689 creating a seamless and smooth surface which does not damage or hurt the fish. The surface is also certified for contact with drinking water ensuring that it does not contaminate the water.
Our range of durable, proven and certified solutions also covers solutions for roofs and functional floors, loading areas and other parts of the industrial plant. Our waterproofing and protective systems keeps professionals on the safe side: Unnecessary risks are avoided, downtimes are minimized, and the highest requirements are fulfilled.
7.10 Our solution for waterproofing fish farm concrete tanks, floors, roofs and loading areas
Don't forget to check out our local portfolio!
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