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Is Waterproofing Paint a Good Basement Waterproofing Material?

Aug 3, 2012 • By Matthew Stock.

Is Waterproofing Paint a Good Basement Waterproofing Material?


In a recent article, we talked about hydraulic cement and how, even though a poor basement waterproofing material, it seems to be the go-to product for many do-it-yourselfers.   When it comes to ineffective weapons against water in your basement, hydraulic cement’s bewildering popularity is matched only by one other commonly available “waterproofing” product that lines the shelves of your neighborhood home center.

You guessed it – waterproofing paint.

I mentioned in that article that we get lots of questions from homeowners who really, really want a bucket of hydraulic cement to solve their water problem.  When we tell them that it won’t, the usual follow-up question is, “Well, what about waterproofing paint?”  I hate to keep saying no to people, but they just leave me no choice.

Why Waterproofing Paint Won’t Keep Water Out of your Basement

It’s Just Paint — Waterproofing paint is just, well, paint.  Although there are some brands that are based on an epoxy sealer, most so-called waterproofing paints are just thicker versions of paint you might use on your shutters or kitchen walls.  Paint does have many great uses and characteristics – it protects wood and other vulnerable surfaces and adds color and texture.  It does have limited capabilities to seal objects against exterior dampness, but there’s a big difference between moisture in the form of falling rain or snow and the kind that infiltrates your basement. 

Continued Seepage Causes Failure — Applying a coat or coats of waterproofing paint to the inside of your basement walls will do nothing to stop the continued seepage of water, such as through cracks or porous masonry.  The paint film may hold back water for a short time but continued pressure and seepage will eventually form water bubbles under the paint, lift if off the wall surface and cause it to fail.

Also, as long as the coat of paint holds up, it traps moisture inside the foundation wall.  This promotes further deterioration of the concrete or mortar, rusts rebar and generally contributes to bigger problems down the road.

Doesn’t Repair Cracks and Leaks — Even the makers and other advocates for waterproofing paint will tell you that any sources of water should be repaired before applying the product.  This sounds reasonable but, if you think about it, why would you want to put on waterproofing paint if you’ve already permanently repaired the problem?  I suppose that if you wanted to paint your basement walls to brighten the place up you could use waterproofing paint but it’s tedious and time-consuming to apply.

Hard to Apply – Applying waterproofing paint is a lot of work for very little return.  First you have to remove any loose concrete, dirt and mineral deposits with a wire brush, then vacuum residue from the wall surfaces.  After that, it is recommended that you fill cracks and leaks with a product from the same manufacturer.  Then, finally, you start painting.  The first coat must be applied with a brush and worked into all crevices and openings in the wall to ensure complete coverage.  After that, second, third and subsequent coats may be applied with a roller.

Makes me tired just writing about it.

Look, I know that everybody’s trying to save a buck these days but it’s easy to throw money away in pursuit of a quick fix.  Rather than waste your time and money on waterproofing paint, why not get some free advice from a professional?  U.S. Waterproofing has waterproofed more than 300,000 homes in the Chicagoland area, all without a drop of waterproofing paint.  Think we might know something?

Tags: diy basement waterproofing, basement waterproofing materials, waterproofing paint

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