Can you waterproof a building?

Every commercial building in existence has a constant battle against water. Whole industries revolve around keeping moisture away from concrete, steel, and stone. We owe much of our business to water.

So is it possible to waterproof a building? Absolutely.

The building envelope

Every building has the “building envelope”—the boundary between the outside and inside environments. Different structures have more or less defined envelopes. An old barn, for example, might have a very simple (and porous) envelope. On the other hand, a new skyscraper has a multilayered, complex envelope.

That building envelope is all that stands between the building’s interior structure and water damage.

A great building envelope has several systems that work together to keep water out and channel it away.

How a commercial envelope works

Waterproofing a commercial building means working in layers. First, you have the base layer: your roof, walls, and foundation.

The original structure has to be well constructed, with no gaps for water to find its way in. Then extra membranes and coatings are added. No matter how solid the concrete slabs of a commercial basement look, they’re under immense hydrostatic pressure, and concrete is porous; that basement needs help.

Once the structure is tight and coatings and membranes have been added, it’s time to think about the exterior—the part that will be exposed to the elements. Sometimes, it may be as simple as the coating on the exterior walls. In other cases, like EIFS or brick veneer, there may be extra layers. Any veneers added, from the extruded insulation of EIFS to the traditional brick, will require drainage systems in place to avoid condensation or buildup of water.

Other systems like guttering divert water away from the foundation and roof; standing water can weaken surfaces and allow water to get a foothold where it wouldn’t otherwise. Even though the guttering isn’t “waterproofing,” it’s critical to keeping a building waterproof.

The parts of waterproofing a building

So now you know: a building can be waterproofed. But it’s more complex than building something, painting it, putting a roof on it, and calling it a day. It takes multiple systems working in tandem to keep water out. Need a hand waterproofing your building? Contact JK Industries for a free, no-obligation consultation.