Solving damp issues in older properties has long been a puzzle for those who have to maintain them. Penetrating damp, especially, is a difficult problem to solve. There is a need with older buildings to maintain vapour permeability in walls and, although there is a wealth of waterproof coatings and render options available, there are very few truly effective waterproofing treatments that allow a wall to “breathe”.
The Construction of Older Buildings
Modern buildings are usually constructed with an eye to keeping damp and moisture out. This is achieved using impervious materials, cavity walls and relatively air-tight design methods. As a result, most ventilation in modern buildings is highly controlled via the opening of windows and the use of extractor units; very little water vapour is transmitted via the actual building materials.
In the past, buildings were mostly built using solid brick or stone walls, held together with weaker and more porous mortars than those used today. This means that, in old buildings, air movement and moisture transfer often happens far more freely than in modern buildings. The building materials used, along with less air-tight design in general, create an environment where the free movement of moisture is the norm. Read this presentation by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings to learn more.
The Need to Breathe
Dampness is not necessarily a problem for the condition of older structures because a certain amount of moisture in older building materials is commonly expected. The nature of more traditional construction methods ensures that it will be able to evaporate and move freely as vapour.
However, in periods of extreme weather or where a constantly warm and dry interior environment is desired, dealing with dampness in old buildings becomes tricky. Most forms of physical damp-proofing such as renders, weatherproof paints, cement based pointing and dense plasters are likely to cause a significant drop in the vapour permeability of the wall.
Whilst this may lead to a temporarily dry environment internally, any moisture that is already present in the wall or entering the wall from another source is going to be restricted from evaporating as easily as it would have before and may track elsewhere or become trapped. If this happens, the likelihood of masonry and timber decay or damage is significantly increased.
A Modern Solution to an Old Problem
Stormdry Masonry Protection Cream is an ideal way to stop penetrating damp from affecting an older building without increasing the risk of trapped moisture and material decay. It is a paintable cream based on proven silane/siloxane technology that lines the pores of masonry, bricks and mortar; making the wall resistant to water penetration.
Stormdry differs from other damp-proofing products in that it is highly breathable, it doesn’t change the appearance of the surface to which it is applied and it lasts for up to 30 years.
Stormdry lines and bonds with the pores in brickwork, masonry and mortar. Unlike other waterproofers, liquid water is blocked but water vapour is able to pass through. This means that although the interior is protected from severe weather and penetrating damp, any residual moisture or water vapour is able escape. The wall is protected but still able to “breathe” 90% as freely, as shown here in our laboratory report.
In addition to this breathability, a Stormdry treated wall is warmer in wet weather compared to an untreated wall, due to it being kept dry, which can further encourage evaporation whilst resisting the entry of new water. This is not the case with an untreated wall.
Preservation of Building Character
Aside from structural concerns, the owner of an older building must also put a considerable amount of thought into whether any modifications to their property will change its integral character. Buildings built prior to the Second World War, and older, tend to have more individual design quirks than modern buildings, which is often a fundamental part of their appeal.
Stormdry leaves no visible or textural change to the surface it is applied to. Other water proofers can leave a residue or sheen to the surface of a wall. Once Stormdry has fully cured, the only difference between a treated and an untreated wall is that the Stormdry treated wall is water resistant. This means an older building can be preserved without changing its appearance or character.
Small 30ml sample tubes of Stormdry can be provided on request, allowing you to test compatibility with your specific building materials. A Stormdry Masonry Test Kit is also available for purchase.
30 Years of Effectiveness
Because of its unique cream formulation, Stormdry can penetrate into walls more deeply than liquid waterproofers. This allows for a greater level protection and makes for a more long lasting treatment than was previously available. With a treatment life expectancy of up to 30 years, a wall treated with Stormdry will benefit from years of trouble free, breathable protection.
Most common liquid waterproofers are only designed to last two to three years, meaning the chance of premature failure and unexpected material damage during extreme weather is more likely. A deep penetrating treatment of Stormdry ensures a building can withstand year after year of rain, frost and adverse weather, safe in the knowledge of assured and breathable performance.
For Instances of Salt Contamination
It is important, before carrying out any form of damp-proofing or waterproofing, to let an expert thoroughly assess the condition of the structure and consider the secondary effects of any method being used. If a building has been, or still is, suffering from rising damp then the wall may be contaminated with salts. The same is true for certain buildings close to the sea.
If an unacceptable level of salt has built up in a wall then water resistant coatings may not be the correct way to protect it. An independent surveyor will be able to confirm the presence and volume of salts in a wall and, if necessary, provide alternative treatment recommendations. We always advise seeking expert help before any works occur.
Safeguard Europe is a manufacturer and supplier of specialist damp-proofing and waterproofing products. Stormdry is produced by Safeguard Europe and has been put through rigorous laboratory testing and extensive field testing.
We always look to collaborate with property owners or contractors, on both technical and practical basis, to makes sure that the solutions we provide are fully appropriate. We understand that every building is different and we are happy to provide technical specifications for individual projects.
For an example of Stormdry being used on listed buildings, we have two separate case studies already on our website, Denne House and Telscombe Manor. If you’d like to discuss specific requirements or technical issues for your property, our qualified staff are available on 01403 210 204. E-mail enquiries can also be submitted via the contact form on the right hand side of the page.