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    Way Ahead: Modern versus conventional waterproofing techniques

    Dr. Sanjay BahadurDr. Sanjay Bahadur
    Global CEO, Construction Chemical Division
    Pidilite Industries
    We Indians normally go by the adage of ‘old is gold’ and while that may hold true in some instances, it certainly is not true for old, archaic systems of waterproofing. Very often we find that a lot of innovative steps are taken in the architecture and design of a building, with impressive lobbies podiums, parking and gardens to add to the grandeur of a structure. Contractors go all out to perfect the finishing of a structure. But when it comes to basics like waterproofing of areas like the terrace or bathrooms or exterior walls, the same old conventional systems are used even though they have been proven, time and again to lead to leakages and ultimately weakening of the structure.

    Home truths about conventional waterproofing methods

    There is a reason that conventional methods of waterproofing don’t work in the Indian heat. Our summers are super-hot. It is also known that thermal expansion and contraction will cause cracks in the concrete and also in materials like Brickbat Coba, Mud Phuska, and Lime terracing. These conventional systems of waterproofing are inelastic and thus, they are bound to get cracks in them over a period of time. Besides, very often the manpower used for the laying of these materials is unskilled. In the case of terrace areas, use of such conventional methods of waterproofing means regular seepage and leakage issues and regular expenditure on repairs. In addition, breaking of the old layer of waterproofing to repair it, also weakens the slab.

    When it comes to bathrooms and other wet areas such as kitchens, the waterproofing is only done on the floor and sunken areas of the bathroom and the full splash area is not covered, leaving greater chances of seepage and leakage. Unskilled labour can also be an issue in faulty waterproofing. Moreover, with concealed piping, care needs to be taken that the pipes are grouted properly to prevent leakages.

    Terrace waterproofing application

    The usual method of waterproofing exterior walls is the use of exterior paints. However, paints are 30-50 micron thick and are not thick enough to resist the wind lashing rains that can damage the paint film. Thus, over time, the paint tends to crack or peel, leading to problems like damp patches and seepage, especially in the monsoon.

    New Age Savior

    Recognizing the adverse effects of thermal expansion which compromise conventional methods, new waterproofing products have been developed that are elastic in nature, wear well and ensure a leak-free existence for the structure.

    The modern ways of waterproofing are liquid brush applied solutions which can be bitumen-based, acrylic-based, PU-based, etc, and pre-formed membranes which are loosely laid or torched or self-adhesive membranes. Depending on the type of waterproofing required Dr. Fixit has bitumen-based, acrylic-based, Polyurethane-based solutions and can provide specific products for individual requirements. Damaged terraces need not be completely broken and redone. Repair is possible by using such products like Dr. Fixit Newcoat 3 coating brush applied solution.

    For exterior walls, the DF Raincoat coating is about 110-120 micron thick, twice the size of normal exterior paints, and tough enough to withstand the wind lashing rains. DF Raincoat is elastomeric and flexible in nature that accommodates thermal stresses and bridges hairline cracks that lead to seepages. It is tough and does not crack or peel off and therefore resists water penetration effectively. The ideal way to waterproof the exterior walls is that the existing cement paint is removed with wire brushing as far as possible, then washed to remove loose dirt/dust, and then two finish coats of Dr. Fixit DF Raincoat be applied over Dr. Fixit Primeseal primer.

    application Newcoat

    When it comes to bathrooms, one of the best possible solutions would be Dr. Fixit Bathseal Kit, which is a multi-product kit for 100% leak-free bathroom waterproofing with a life expectancy of 15 years. The company has even introduced a Mobil App and an interactive website that enable a pre-booked tech chat.

    There are numerous advantages to polymeric conservation and waterproofing techniques, which include the speed and ease of application coupled with long-term durability compared with conventional techniques. In addition to this, these solutions have speed on their side. Most construction sites are always short of labour. Faster application process reduces labour time which helps in cost-effectiveness for the builder as well. This is a particular advantage of Dr Fixit’s Blueseal, a unique spray applied polyurethane waterproofing system with no joints, that offers two and half times better insulation with one-tenth of manpower as compared to brickbat coba. What’s more, the cost of waterproofing, taking into the account the best of specifications, will not amount to more than Rs.5 to 10 per sq.ft of the total cost of construction.

    Knowledge is Power

    Despite the many advantages of the new methods and products of waterproofing, one still finds a tendency to stick to the old systems. One of the main reasons is that there is still relatively low awareness about the benefits of construction chemicals, inadequate knowledge of the proper usage of these chemicals and the role they can play in maintaining our high-rises. About 85% of contractors and builders are not aware of the key advantages of using such construction chemicals and have limited knowledge on their proper application.

    Dr Fixit not only creates the right materials but also provides site trials and demos, application methods and training applicators and site audits. When it comes to waterproofing, one needs to think of the long-term and the future. New products need to be adopted for their many benefits which prove to be the most efficient and even most economical in the long run.

    NBM&CW April 2017

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