Damp, mould, stains and flaky plaster in basements are a homeowner’s worst nightmare. We’ve mentioned numerous times that weather events and groundwater, where not controlled properly, are the main cause of damp. Of course, it doesn’t just affect the walls, but the whole structure, including flooring, on the basement level or even on the ground floor.
The phenomenon that’s so often underestimated is so-called “rising damp”, which occurs when water under the ground enters walls as a result of direct contact and is pushed upwards by capillary action, allowing the moisture to rise around ten centimetres or more. The moisture can even climb metres up the wall by “latching on” to molecules of a different kind, in this case those of the actual walls. The damage caused by the abnormal increase in moisture inside walls is immediately visible on the walls of ground-floor rooms or basements.
What effects the water’s capillary action has
The effect of capillary absorption manifests in the form of:
- static damage to the building, which is weakened and becomes less safe
- worsening occupant comfort as a result of unhealthy, smelly rooms
- cosmetic damage, with the appearance of stains and peeling plaster
- higher heating costs due to the lower surface temperatures of internal walls
- a capillary action that causes water to rise through walls, bringing with it salts from the ground that, once they crystallize as a result of the evaporation process, swell and cause paint and plaster to peel: white stains forming around cracks are known as salt efflorescence.
The effects are less visible when the surface affected is flooring, with symptoms like swelling, salt efflorescence, mould or changes in the colour of grout often only appearing later on.
All these issues derive from the misguided choice of materials, or poorly designed and executed work, often compounded by the fact that the foundations’ waterproofing is damaged or even non-existent. This is not an issue linked to weather events, rather it stems from the presence of groundwater.
How TeMa Building Solutions can help
Both rising damp and efflorescence issues can be prevented with the use of suitable materials. TeMa Building Solutions offers an extensive range of studded membranes and drainage geocomposites to remove water before it comes into contact with the structure and to provide waterproofing with reliable, lasting protection.
Our engineers are here to help you choose the right specific product for your next project.
Don’t smile at the obvious: a swimming pool is one of the most humid environments you can find, especially the changing rooms, where there are shower rooms and often inadequate aeration.
Vapour, water drops on the walls and permanently wet floors are the problems we find, but the unknown arises when humidity also penetrates the walls. And that’s when invisible damage starts to affect the structure.
Clearly, the most obvious consequence of humidity is the appearance of stains and moulds which, as we all know, are not healthy for people or for the structure, but fortunately they are a clear sign that something is wrong.
When swimming pools are open to the public, and therefore very busy, all designers know that it’s important to prevent any signs of deterioration in the toilet and shower area. Basically, this is the area where user’s sensitivities are aroused, and so it’s important to look for the most suitable materials and finishes, using hardwearing elements capable of resisting over time. In addition, the products used must be completely waterproof and resistant to humid environments.
If not properly considered right from the design stage, there’s a real risk of encountering problems with damp, tiles coming off and walls that flake off very quickly.
Moreover, the problem is worsened by the temperature difference between inside and outside during the coldest periods.
The solution from TeMa Interior Solutions
We are specialised in damp-proofing and waterproofing at large construction sites, and now also in interior solutions. We have therefore developed the right product to be vapour- and water-resistant. For example, Water Panel, the XPS (extruded expanded polystyrene) panel bonded with waterproof facers on both sides, to which cement-based glue can be directly applied for laying tiles or other claddings that design now has to offer.
The advantage of this product is that it’s ready to use, i.e. quick and easy to assemble while ensuring maximum performance and customisation. Being lightweight is a huge advantage on-site, as well as the fact that it can be cut without creating dust. In addition, it’s ideal for a variety of applications, as it’s available in a wide range of thicknesses from 6 mm to 50 mm.
Available accessories include:
- an adhesive for fixing;
- T-Corner I/E for waterproofing corners;
- T-Bandel for joining panels;
- T-Fix for applying to gaps between panels;
- T-Wall Collar for waterproofing the outlet areas of installations.
Nowadays, certain solutions allow you to create perfectly liveable and comfortable basements.
Of course, existing little-used basements can also be renovated, but you need to take some constructive measures to ensure that the building is in good condition and the environment is healthy.
So let’s see what we need to focus on.
Damp and moisture seepage
Basements are in direct contact with the ground, both the floor and the vertical walls.
Rainwater or ground moisture can penetrate concrete, leading to marks and mould that may cause the wall to peel. The aesthetic damage is as serious as the structural damage: mould is anything but healthy!
It therefore becomes necessary to provide a separation barrier between the structure and the ground that performs the function of damp-proofing, i.e. controlling moisture in the absence of hydrostatic pressure (click here to read more).
TeMa Building Solutions suggests T-Bentostop, in the F and F XL versions, a geocomposite, which attaches to concrete and consists of natural sodium bentonite with a waterproofing function, and T-Kone, the HDPE studded membrane available in several versions.
Groundwater or dispersed water may flow in the ground, even near structures, therefore increasing the load on walls. So, it is essential to drain water and prevent it from entering by reducing the hydrostatic pressure on surfaces: T-Kone G Drain, T-Net Drain studded membranes and the drainage geocomposites in the T-Mix Drain range perform this function while keeping walls dry.
Mechanical protection of waterproofing
The vertical walls of basement rooms have to withstand heavy loads exerted by the ground. It is therefore essential to provide systems to protect the waterproof layer in order to guarantee the safety and long life of the building.
The T-Kone, T-Kone Star and TMD (also in the Plus version) range are studded membranes specifically designed for foundations and underground structures: their high load-bearing capacity makes them ideal for such applications.
To keep masonry dry and allow constant and substantial air circulation, studded membranes can be installed with the studs facing inwards. In this way, their raised shape creates aeration channels that allow the wall to literally “breathe”.
Ideas for renovating your basement
It has been estimated that the value of your property increases by about a third if you have a well-planned basement. An extra room is always very useful and its intended use may vary greatly.
You can opt for a studio for working from home, a spacious laundry room for hanging up your washing, a playroom for your children, a relaxation area, a rehearsal room for talented home musicians, or even a free space for hosting friends, a wine cellar for preserving the best bottles with a tasting area, a gym or a personal home cinema.
Damp-proofing and waterproofing are terms we often encounter in the building industry and they refer to a specific function. In product presentation and technical documentation, the two terms are often equated, leading to confusion, also due to “cross-translations” from English into other languages.
Important differences distinguish these two terms. Whether you are planning a new construction or a renovation, it is better to know the meanings in order to ensure optimal construction that also allows, when envisaged, comfortable living on basement floors.
In this article, we can try to better understand the difference between the two terms.
What does “damp-proofing” mean?
Damp-proofing is the function of a material that can slow down or prevent, on a surface, the absorption of moisture (i.e. in the absence of hydrostatic pressure). The main purpose is therefore to slow down moisture seepage, but it does not prevent the flow of water to the interior.
These materials also often have the additional important function of creating a barrier between the ground and the surfaces to protect the waterproofing layer, increasing its safety and durability over the years.
What does “waterproofing” mean?
Waterproofing means the ability of the system to be totally resistant to water in the ground, which exerts hydrostatic pressure. Such as groundwater, for example.
TeMa Building Solutions always guarantees a range of products and has all the solutions you need.
For the damp-proofing function we have T-Kone, the HDPE studded membrane for foundations and underground structures, and its accessories including washers and nails for installation (T-Plug + Nails), whereas for the waterproofing function we have T-Bentostop F and T-Bentostop F XL: waterproofing bentonite geocomposites that self-attach to concrete for foundations in that material.
Research conducted in the building market has found that most construction disputes are due to damage caused by water and damp seeping into retaining structures.
In order to avoid inconveniences of this magnitude that are discovered in the course of time, designers and installers undertake to protect foundations. TeMa has therefore developed products and systems that protect waterproofing during backfilling operations, thus guaranteeing the stability of intervention work over time. For practical purposes, we propose two types of fairly common intervention works in civil engineering by showing you how two of our studded membranes work.
Retaining walls are intervention works that have the main purpose of retaining slopes or soil embankments during works such as the construction of roads below ground level. Various types of wall can be built: in masonry or reinforced concrete, or using precast concrete elements.
Whichever solution is used, you always need to consider and comply with specific hydrogeological features: TeMa laboratories offer a range of membranes that meet such requirements, whereas technicians and installers can assist in choosing the best solution to use.
Mechanical protection of waterproofing
For the mechanical protection of waterproofing you can choose T-Kone, which also performs a damp-proofing and drainage function. Damp proofing creates a physical barrier between the structure and damp soil and avoids any possible damage to the waterproofing membrane, both during onsite operations and soil settlement.
The T-Kone family is part of a range of bare HDPE studded membranes (such as T-Kone S). Alternatively, these membranes can be bonded with a geotextile such as T-Kone G Drain or with a geotextile and a damp-proofing element such as T-Kone G Drain Plus.
Diaphragms and berlin walls
Suppose we need to work in an urban context doing underground intervention work. First of all, we must guarantee the stability of the structures surrounding the area to be excavated.
Diaphragms and berlin walls are used in situations where it is impossible to create excavation walls with an appropriate slope to prevent landslides or structural subsidence. In the form of steel/ reinforced concrete piles or walls, they are driven deep into the ground and coupled with TeMa membranes, which provide damp-proofing, mechanical protection or drainage functions.
Damp-proofing, mechanical protection or drainage functions
For this purpose, products such as Q-Drain can be used, which have a polypropylene monofilament drainage core bonded with one or two non-woven geotextiles, also made of polypropylene. These filter water and adapt to the conformation of the ground, thus guaranteeing stability.
These are just some of the membranes we are able to supply. Find out which one is best for you and assess the best solution with our team of experts. TeMa will assist you throughout each phase of the design process.
To discover TeMa products, visit the website.