Knowledge and Technology Management for
Waterproofing Using Construction Chemicals

Er. P. Srinivasa Reddy, Chief Executive Officer, Rehab Technologies &

E. Jagannadha Rao, Consultant, Rehab Technologies, Hyderabad.

"Great leaders do not do great things, but execute simple things brilliantly" - Peter Drucker Management Guru

What we build brick-by-brick, may get destroyed by drop-by-drop seepage of water. To avoid premature deterioration of the buildings and other concrete infrastructure facilities, a scientific approach towards waterproofing is essential to avoid leakages and seepages. This calls for knowledge and technology management for designing efficient waterproofing treatments, selection of site-specific materials and methodologies for execution. This paper presents context pertinent conceptual and procedural guidance in the field of usage of construction chemicals for post construction activities such as maintenance, waterproofing, repair, rehabilitation, retrofitting, and so on, on large-scale implementation. This paper deals with vital topics like technology issues, ideas and initiatives pertaining to this field.

Civil engineering is known as mother of all engineering branches. Construction practices and building material sciences is a highly matured technology, world over. Hence, even a layman is able to understand and execute complex construction projects. However, the other side of civil engineering that is post construction activities, which is commonly referred as maintenance and repairs, is a field where continuously incremental improvements are happening. Yet times even radical and breakthrough technologies are been adopted successfully. Hence, knowledge and technology is highly dynamic and volatile in this field.

Knowledge and Technology Management (KTM) is a concept highly useful for forward-looking concrete professionals who increasingly need more specialized knowledge and stateof- the-art technologies in the core and wider concrete maintenance and repair process:
  • To raise confidence in waterproofing technology.
  • To avoid hit-or-miss methods (often used in repair projects).
  • To avoid premature failure of maintenance and repair schemes.
  • To achieve longevity of concrete structures.
  • To assess the suitability of materials and methods for a given situation.
Setting up standards through benchmarking high quality precision for repairing, protecting concrete in industrial and infrastructure projects, with knowledge and technology management as key driver and enablers. Any deficiency and distress caused due to deterioration, corrosion, leakages, seepages, cracks, and so on, leads to the serious malfunctioning in terms of capacity and health of the structures. Thus, the strength and condition of the industrial, institutional, and national vital infrastructure concrete facilities are to be safe guarded. Deteriorated buildings can effectively be repaired and rehabilitated to enhance their performance by usage of modern materials, broadly known as construction chemicals. Annually, lot of money is spent right across the globe on protecting and maintaining new as well as existing concrete structures to enhance the durable life by appropriate treatments and modern methods.

Holistic approach consists of tasks like inspection, assessment, condition survey, residual life analysis followed by the implementation of the best possible treatment. Concrete maintenance and repair, as a specialized field is gaining more and more significance, than never before. This is even relevance, in present scenario, due to the consequences of the aging of the housing, institutional, and infrastructure related to concrete structures.

A Strategic Need

Concrete maintenance and repair is a relatively young and fast growing field with dynamic advancements of knowledge and technology. It is necessary for the engineers involved in the maintenance and repair works to become aware of the various intricacy issues involved in this multi-disciplinary engineering, which is interlinked to the nation’s progress. This is very critical, due to the newness of the technologies, creates interest for the adoption and diffusion and eliminates the confusion prevailing among the decision-makers.

"How are we going to prepare the nation to meet the challenges of the next century, to meet the challenges of the latest technology, as it comes?....Development has to mean absorption of the most modern techniques at the most basic levels in our society...."-Shri Rajiv Gandhi Former Prime Minister

Indian Industry Scenario

In the wake of policy of liberalization, privatization and globalization, there has been a tremendous influx and exchange of knowledge and technology in several fields of civil engineering. Technology is the most non-linear tool that can affect the most fundamental changes. The proper exploitation of technology strongly influences economic competitiveness. Thus, usage of new methods and materials is no longer a matter of choice, but a matter of necessity.

Significance of Waterproofing

Waterproofing is a major challenge to the civil engineers in several situations. Poor waterproofing causes inconvenience to the occupants. Ineffective / absence of waterproofing reduces the durability of structures by way of corrosion of reinforcement.

Waterproofing or Damp proofing?

Many a times, we come across the dilemma whether damp proofing to be adopted or waterproofing materials to be used or both to be implemented or both these are one and the same. Here comes the knowledge of the specifications data mine.

As per ASTM D 1079, Waterproofing is defined as "Treatment of surface or structure to prevent the passage of water under hydrostatic pressure.” Whereas, Damp proofing is defined as “Treatment of surface or structure to resist the passage of water in the absence of the hydrostatic pressure."

Hence, these are not only two different words with two different meanings, but altogether two different technologies for similar purpose.

Current Scenario

The waterproofing industry in India has undergone a sea change in the past decade. Several players entered the market with both imported and indigenous technologies. Unfortunately some offer a “quick fix” low quality solutions with tall claims, which will not perform as estimated. But in reality, quality conscious customers are on a lookout for a “Total Solution Provider” for long lasting results. Hence, many waterproofing manufacturers and service players are intending to serve these quality clients, which necessary needs knowledge and technology to match the explicit and implicit needs related to waterproofing of concrete structures, such as buildings.

Quality Conscious or Knowledge?

Typically as the waterproofing and construction chemical industry in India is upgrading rapidly in a very relatively short period from no treatment to mortars using sand and cement, to bituminous coatings, felts and to innovative coatings and membranes as knowledge has grown. Traditionally, specifications for waterproofing central around waterproofing systems such as brickbat coba, bituminous coatings, felts etc. The conventional waterproofing systems are slowly becoming outdated due to their inherent disadvantages and membrane waterproofing coatings, are gaining popularity. In the recent times, waterproofing specifications are being reworked and modifications are being incorporated to replace the old systems with the modern materials, broadly known as construction chemicals.

Materials/ Systems for Waterproofing

Waterproofing of roof slabs, basements, floors, terrace gardens, sunken slabs etc. needs different materials and systems. Waterproofing like any other aspect of the construction engineering need to be understood, analyzed and designed for a suitable system on a case to case basis, before implementation through experienced professional applicators.

Presently, wide range of waterproofing technologies available, such as:
  • Lime terrace
  • Brick bar coba / Surkey
  • Cement sand screeds
  • Cement paints
  • Tar based cold and hot applied coatings
  • Tar felts
  • Polyurethane coatings
  • Multilayer membranes
  • Silane Siloxane based sealers
  • Silicon based water repellents
  • Neoprene based coatings
  • Polymer modified cementitious coatings
  • Spray applied membranes
  • Foam waterproofing
  • E l a s t o m e r i c membranes
  • Polymer modified cementitious systems
  • Bitumen / Neoprene / Polyurethane systems

Application Techniques

The waterproofing materials and systems are expected to be installed or applied by using one of these methods:
  • Brush applied
  • Roller applied
  • Spray applied
  • Impregnation
  • Spreading, laying, and bonding

Performance Selection

Each of these systems and materials, when applied by employing one of the above techniques, the performance of the waterproofing is expected to be one or combination of these, depending on the requirements.
  • Protects concrete from the intrusion of liquids thru’ cracks / joints
  • Excellent adhesion and water resistance
  • High flexibility and elongation – crack arresting
  • Minimizes liquid absorption by concrete
  • Typical applications – Below and above grade waterproofing, traffic decks...
Many times due to lack of awareness of knowledge and technological advances and choices around us, will end up using inferior methods and materials, leading to premature failure of the treatments. Selection of right technology is essential to avoid this. Hence, knowledge plays a key role while making decisions about waterproofing in mega projects, by either over or under specifying than the necessary and wasting the valuable resources of the nation.

Value System in Waterproofing

Stake holders in construction industry consists, end user of the facilities, owner / operator of the asset, designer – consultant / engineer, major civil contractor, subcontractor – labour / materials / tools, product distributor, and building materials manufacturer.

Building materials manufacturers, especially construction chemical manufacturers, in the case of waterproofing and repairs are the torch bearers of the technology in construction industry. They exist at the very bottom of the value chain, contributing significantly converting knowledge in to commercially viable technology to suit the industry need. Yet times they drive the industry. Thus, enabling the growth of the industry. Is it in the right direction, is a mystery.

Role of Knowledge and Technology Management

In recent years, there has been a surge of interest in managing knowledge, created by people to address a specific given problem. Usage of appropriate chemical based treatment for waterproofing in a multi-million projects, do need knowledge management initiatives. In critical and highly complex situations project authorities, need more than technology experts. Essentially, Six forms of Knowledge, enables to take the most logically correct decision.
  1. Context Knowledge—Stems from understanding the circumstances and underlying Systems.
  2. Experience—having tacit information about how things are done around here.
  3. Content Knowledge—having deep level understanding about processes and subject.
  4. Applied Skill—being able to do things to a high level of quality.
  5. Insight—being able to use creative imagination and reason to make connections, create ideas and suggest new ways forward.
  6. People Knowledge—an awareness of who can do what, and how well they can do it.
A critical and challenging engineering project such as waterproofing using construction chemicals must state its strategies and objectives. The knowledge requirements have to be identified to meet these goals. The difference between the requirements and what current levels are referred to knowledge gap. If properly done, has potential to form tie-up for complementary capabilities.

Waterproofing Technology is continuously progressing. In this context several important concepts are illustrated which are of use to technology planners and forecasters in this filed. Waterproofing Technology, per say is all the knowledge, products, tools, methods and systems employed in the Creating of a leak proof structure. Sustaining success depends on the skill in choosing technology based engineering decisions. Technologies are of several types, such as: New technology, Emerging technology, High technology, Low technology, Medium technology, Appropriate technology, creative technology, breakthrough technology, and so on.

Strategic Directions to Waterproofing Technology

The performance of a technology has a recognized pattern over time that if properly understood, can be of great use in planning. Technology requires deep understanding of the life cycle of the technology, products, process, and system. A technology’s improvement of performance follows the S– curve. When a technology performance parameter (on y axis) is plotted against time (on x axis), the resultant resembles an S – shaped diagram, called S- curve. Any technology progresses through a three stage technology life cycle (TLC). The first stage is the new invention period, also known as embryonic stage. The second stage is technology improvement period, also known as the growth period. The third stage is mature – technology period. The technology becomes vulnerable to substitution or obsolescence when new or better – performing technology emerges. S-cure of technology is a powerful model in technology forecasting.

Technology Push Vs. Market Pull

Technology opens new vistas. Technology is also often developed to meet a market need or demand. Technology push leads to scientific discoveries, applied knowledge, recognized needs, intellectual capital. On the other hand market pull creates market demand, proliferation of application areas, recognized needs, opportunities for increased quality, productivity, and so on. Ideally integrating technology push and market pull to stimulate innovation.


In recent past, usage of construction chemicals for waterproofing had increased, as the construction industry had grown on a sustainable basis. There is a sudden shift from conventional rigid waterproofing technologies, which predominantly consists of a single material viz. bituminous coatings and felts to elastomeric waterproofing, and so on, coatings which are a combination of several materials to achieve major performance advantages on a long term basis. Now its time to develop indigenous skills, knowledge, processes, rather than inviting and importing the low technologies. Construction chemical manufacturers should promote technologies suitable to our national economy i.e affordability and environment i.e weather and climatic conditions. Non Invented Here (NIH) technologies unfortunately are highly appreciated, encouraged, recommended, and implemented by waterproofing industry stake holders.

"It is the knowledge society that will transform India into a developed nation." - Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam President of India

Here an attempt is made to introduce the knowledge and technology management concepts to bring out the intricacies associated with contemporary waterproofing systems using construction chemicals. Hope the mind set will change where new dynamic ideas are encouraged and implemented.

Authors Profiles Er. P Srinivasa Reddy is a civil engineering graduate, associated with the Construction Industry for more than fifteen years, and is Chief Executive Officer of Rehab Technologies, currently consultant in the area of civil engineering materials & its applications, repair and rehabilitation of concrete structures.

E Jagannadha Rao is a graduate in Applied Sciences from Andhra University, Post-Graduate Diploma in Systems Management, trained in Six Sigma and a Certified Software quality professional.

He possesses about 18 years of International and National level IT industry experience in the United States and Saudi Arabia. Currently, associated as Consultant with Rehab Technologies for conceptualizing and implementation of highly knowledge and technology intensive consulting assignments in the field of civil engineering.


Our sincere acknowledgments are due to Dr. Atul Sen, Head, Knowledge Management Center, Defense Research and Development Laboratory, Hyderabad. Dr. Sen had trained, encouraged and supported us to learn and understand KTM concepts and permitted to use some of his presentation material in this paper.

We also acknowledge all our clients and business associates, who had provided opportunity to offer our consulting services in the area of implementing new technologies to enhance performance of their concrete structures.

NBMCW April 2006