Your basement could be a useful area of your home, allowing you to unlock previously unused space and create new living areas. Basements are commonly used as extra lounges, guest suites, cinemas, gyms and offices. But before you can start thinking about your basement transformation, you need to make sure the space is protected against water ingress.
How to waterproof a basement
Waterproofing a basement is best left to the professionals. While there are DIY methods you can try, the chances of error are very high. When it comes to converting a basement into a livable space, you want to feel confident in your waterproofing measures before you start putting money into the decor and furnishings.
Why do basements need to be waterproofed?
The outer walls of your home are likely to be treated with a damp-proof course, but basements and cellar spaces are different. This method is suitable for protecting cavity walls, but not for protecting spaces that are subject to hydrostatic pressure.
What is hydrostatic pressure?
Hydrostatic pressure occurs when there is groundwater in the earth surrounding a property. The weight of the earth forces the water into areas of lower pressure, which will typically be the space inside your basement. The water is forced through tiny pores in the walls and floor of your basement, leading to moisture buildup.
What is the best method for basement waterproofing?
The best method for basement waterproofing will depend on the space and external factors, including any measures that are already in place.
There are two common ways to waterproof a basement.
With this method, a high-viscosity slurry is spread all over the floor and walls of your basement. This cures into a waterproofing layer that will not allow moisture through. This method will allow moisture into the external structure of your home, but not through into the living space. This method can be highly effective, but any shifts in the foundations can cause cracks in the waterproofing barrier.
Flooring and rendering can be applied directly on top once the slurry has cured. This can be a fast and effective way to achieve a watertight basement space.
The second method involves installing waterproof membranes over the floors and walls of your basement. With this method, channels are created under the membranes to direct water between the stud work.
This method allows water through the external structure but blocks it from getting into the living space. The moisture is commonly directed into channels and then pumped out of the home.
Which method is right for your home?
Both methods are highly effective for creating a watertight basement that is ready for conversion. Factors that will impact the method chosen will likely include the type of structure you have in your basement at present. Concrete walls and floors will typically be treated with a waterproofing slurry. For earth floor basements or unfinished basements, the tanking method might be more effective.
You will need to consult with a professional to determine the best course of action. They will test the moisture levels in your basement to help you decide which method is right for your home.
Can I waterproof my basement myself?
While you certainly can purchase the items you need to waterproof your basement and try the DIY route, we wouldn’t recommend it. This is because there is a high risk that something could go wrong if you aren’t confident and knowledgeable about the materials.
You will need to know how to identify areas of weakness and potential areas where moisture might be getting in. You’ll also need to know how to address larger gaps and breaches in your basement.
Tanking and waterproofing are also very messy methods, and you might not have the protective equipment you need. Overall, it would be more expensive to buy the materials yourself and invest in the protective equipment you need rather than simply hiring a company to manage this for you.
What are the benefits of basement waterproofing?
Even if you feel like your basement is quite dry, there is still the risk that this could be seasonal, and by the winter you could be facing a damp and musty space. Some damp problems only arise once you start using the space, so you could spend a lot of money converting the basement into a usable space, only to discover that you have a widespread damp problem.
With basement waterproofing and tanking, you can feel confident that the space is dry and protected. This will allow you to move forward with renovation plans with complete confidence. So, whether you are unsure about your basement’s waterproofing history, or if you know that the waterproofing methods have failed, you could benefit from making this part of your home watertight again.