The task of taking care of a basement is a hard one. Basements are often poorly insulated and ventilated. These two can cause condensation, which not only dampens the floor but also creates a mold outbreak. Therefore, knowing how to waterproof the basement floor can save you a ton of cash if you do it right.
Waterproofing your basement not only creates a dry extra space in your home but also protects your family’s health by preventing mold outgrowth.
This is why proper drainage and good waterproofing are recipes for good home construction.
For Cement Floors
The concrete and waterproof paint method is effective for older buildings with a cement block or rock foundation—with leaks from basement floors and walls.
It is tempting as a homeowner to think that your concrete basement floor does not need waterproofing. This is quite false. Your concrete flooring is very vulnerable to water damage. Water usually seeps into the house through the wall and flows into the basement. And if your basement flooring is made of concrete, this water begins to erode the concrete.
Hiring an expert to waterproof the basement is expensive. If you cannot afford a professional and you are considering DIY, simply get yourself a bag of cement, waterproof paint, a bucket, and a pastry bag. To waterproof your concrete basement, just follow these steps:
1. Prepare the floor of the basement
Before waterproofing the basement floor, you have to prepare the floor. This means sweeping the floor and removing dirt. Doing this will make the painting process easier—your paint sets well and voids are avoided. Then check for holes and cracks on the floor. Use a wire brush to brush the cracks for loose concrete. Then you can use a dry/wet vacuum to remove loose concrete. Also, chipping the cracked areas with large holes may be necessary.
2. Repair basement drainage
Check for basement pipe leakage. Hydraulic cement or polyurethane caulk can be used to plug these gaps. If your sump pump is broken, you may need the services of a plumber.
3. Patching the cracks
You can’t have proper waterproofing without patching the concrete. You must check the basement floor for cracks. Of course, water will easily enter any crack, so you have to patch them. Follow the instructions on the bag of concrete to determine the mix ratio of cement and water. Before starting, it is recommended that you wear work gloves.
Stir the mix until the consistency of the concrete resembles the thickness of oatmeal. Then gauge the cracks and holes to determine how much concrete to use. Note that the holes can be quite small so you have to patch them cautiously. Don’t waste your concrete and don’t waste your money.
The next process involves filling the holes and cracks with cement and smoothing the area with a trowel. After mixing the concrete, put it in a pastry bag to fill the holes and cracks. As the concrete is overflowing, spread it with a trowel. By spreading the concrete, you are filling the holes and cracks while anchoring it to the basement floor. When the concrete dries, consider sanding until it’s smooth.
4. Add concrete to the edges
For old buildings, there is a high likelihood for the edges of the concrete basement floor to detach from the walls. With your pastry bag, start applying concrete along the edges of the flooring. After the concrete dries, use a silicone tape to tape the seams, then apply concrete to that area.
5. Painting the floor
After the cement dries, the last step is to paint the basement floor with waterproof paint.
To begin, read the paint’s container for safety instructions and usage. Also, opening the basement windows for ventilation is important. After mixing the paint and pouring it onto a paint tray, use a paintbrush to paint the basement. Then you can apply a second coat or even the paint on the floor with a roller.
For Brick Floors
Brick basement flooring, often found in older homes, has a rustic, solid feel and looks quite stylish. However, brick is very vulnerable to water damage, especially in areas with high water tables or areas prone to runoff moisture damage.
Condensation is another problem with brick basements.
When the air is warm and full of water, water accumulates on the flooring. While a dehumidifier can stop this problem, waterproofing the floor means taking extra precautions.
Note that waterproofing the interior surface side of a brick basement floor is not enough to stop water damage. Water can still leak through the unsealed sides and bottom of the brick. This can trap water and even worsen the problem.
Effective waterproofing means you have to remove the bricks and lay the vapor barrier.
To waterproof your brick basement floor, follow these steps:
1. Crack the grout lines
You can only remove the basement brick flooring when you are certain a vapor barrier wasn’t installed beneath the brick during construction.
To remove the brick, use a grout saw to weaken the grout lines (thin mortar between the bricks) around each brick. A rubber mallet and a screwdriver can help break the grout line too.
2. Take out the bricks
After removing the grout, insert a putty knife into the space to loosen the brick. Then gently insert a pry bar into the gap to lift each brick out. Don’t damage the edges or surface of the bricks if you are planning to reuse them.
3. Install vapor barrier or dry gravel
The surface underneath the brick will determine your next course of action.
For concrete surfaces, begin by directly installing a vapor barrier on the slab.
If it is packed soil beneath, use dry gravel as your natural vapor barrier (two inches of gravel, at least).
4. Excavate soil to prevent the subsequent reduction of room height
Only do this if you have the permission of a professional engineer so you won’t damage your building’s foundation.
5. Use polystyrene board and poly sheet
To create an even surface over the gravel, use a polystyrene board (one-inch thick) and tape the joints. Next, install a 5 mm poly sheet to the board surface. Use a seam sealing tape to tape those joints too. This way, you are creating a vapor barrier.
6. Use concrete
After installing your vapor barrier, pour a thin slab of self-leveling concrete on it. This creates a smooth placement surface for each brick. Then you can start installing your bricks.
Understand that any form of wetness on your basement floor will ruin your basement.
Proper protection is ensured by waterproofing. Even if you are planning to lay down vinyl, carpet or any other material on your basement floor, waterproofing is still vital.
Protecting your basement against condensation is quite tricky. So the smartest thing you can do is to waterproof your basement at the time of construction. But if your basement has not been waterproofed, you can still do something about it now.