If you have a basement or cellar under your home, you could be sitting on lots of square meters of unused living space. At a time when house prices are booming, the temptation to make the most of your existing home – rather than selling up and finding somewhere bigger – is strong.
Expanding your home will allow you to make your home larger and could also increase the value of your property if you decide to sell up further down the line. Basements can be converted into spare bedrooms, home offices, gyms and even home cinemas.
One of the common problems many potential basement converters have to face is water ingress. The key to creating new, usable rooms in your cellar or basement lies in dealing with damp and moisture problems first. While tanking won’t protect your basement from flooding, it can help to prevent moisture ingress from the surrounding ground.
Tanking is the most effective way to waterproof a basement or cellar, but it isn’t something that should be attempted on your own. Tanking goes in before the flooring and finishing touches, so if something goes wrong, you won’t know until it’s too late. And it can be an expensive mistake to put right. This is why it is best left to the professionals.
What is tanking?
Tanking involves applying a waterproof sealant to the walls and floors of your basement before replastering and redecorating. It is usually undertaken by a damp specialist, which gives your reassurance that the work will be completed to a high standard.
Tanking can be done internally or externally, but internal tanking is often less disruptive. External tanking is more likely during the construction of a new building, while internal tanking is commonly used for conversions.
When is tanking recommended?
Tanking is recommended whenever there is a risk of water ingress in your basement or cellar caused by rising damp, leaking drains or groundwater. If you can see visible signs of dampness on the surfaces of walls and floors – such as white salt deposits, mould growth, peeling paintwork and unpleasant odours – your specialist will recommend tanking.
You’ll need to complete this before any further renovation work takes place, as it will provide a secure base for any new flooring, furniture or fittings that you fit.
How does tanking work?
Tanking is an extensive process and takes several days to complete. It starts with the walls and floors of your basement being cleaned and degreased using specialist cleaners. Then all plaster, paintwork and other finishes are removed, as these will not be waterproof.
Once the walls and floors have been completely stripped back to their original stone or brickwork, a cement-based tanking compound is applied. This compound has special water-repelling properties that will keep moisture away from your basement’s surfaces.
Once the tanking compound has been applied, it is usually painted over with waterproof paint before the plasterer and decorator move in.
Tanking can be expensive – but if you want to make the most of your basement or cellar without having to worry about water ingress, then it is certainly worth investing in. Once completed properly, tanking should last for many years. So even though the upfront cost may be high, it could save you money and hassle further down the line.
With the right professional help, tanking can quickly and effectively transform your damp, miserable basement into a bright, dry living space that you’ll enjoy spending time in.
Once your basement has been successfully tanked by a specialist, you can start thinking about the decoration and furnishing that will transform it into a usable room. Many people choose to install wetroom-style bathrooms or shower rooms in their basements, as this can be easier to achieve than with other rooms.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that without adequate ventilation, moisture can still build up in your newly tanked basement – so you should consider investing in extractor fans and dehumidifiers.
Moisture control is always more difficult in basement spaces as the walls can often be colder and more exposed to damp. This means that the tanking work needs to be done to an exceptionally high standard and the ventilation and dehumidification systems need to be well maintained. But if you invest in a good quality basement conversion, your new living space should remain dry and comfortable for many years.
What happens if tanking fails?
Tanking should be a reliable solution to water ingress in basements and cellars – but it’s not always fail-proof. If tanking fails, it can lead to serious structural damage that is both costly and time-consuming to repair. It’s therefore essential that you use a reputable damp specialist for the job and ensure that all the work is done correctly the first time around. If you have any doubts about your specialist’s experience or abilities, don’t hesitate to ask for references from their previous clients.
If you do encounter problems down the line, contact your specialist as soon as possible so they can assess the situation and recommend a suitable course of action. In some cases, they may be able to rectify the issue without causing too much disruption in your home.
What is the alternative to tanking?
If tanking isn’t suitable for your space, you might be able to address the issue with damp-proof courses. This is a chemical method of keeping out damp which creates an impermeable moisture barrier in the brickwork. However, this is not often recommended for basement spaces.
It’s also important to remember that ventilation is essential for any successful cellar conversion. Without adequate airflow, moisture can still accumulate and cause problems further down the line. So make sure you install adequate extraction fans and air vents before undertaking any other renovation work.
In summary, tanking is the most reliable way to protect your basement or cellar from water ingress and unpleasant odours – but it’s important to consider the cost of tanking versus the potential increase in the value of your property.