Liquid v Cementitious in Cooler Conditions

Which waterproofing membrane should you choose in winter?

The cooler months present many challenges for waterproofing. Many of you may say that your clients don't realize that, they just want you to get over there and do the job whatever the conditions are. But you cannot battle with the Gods, and so when the weather starts to become colder and damper and wetter, you are restricted in what you can use.

And this also impacts the surfaces that we bond to or what we go over. When you've got a cool ambient condition, that is always going to play a part in the way membranes will cure and form. Surface temperature is even more important.

And when you read data sheets, it refers to surface temperature. So if it says that you can put a product on a surface at 10 degrees, you might have ambient conditions that are 10, but the surface overnight could be 0 and that could have actual ice or freeze thaw conditions in there.

And if you've got a damp surface, because the cold conditions with dew, etc. will create dampness in the surface, they're going to prevent the application of a liquid membrane onto that substrate.

So the risks that you've got when you're putting liquid membranes onto those sort of surfaces is that you've got prolonged drying and curing times. That's number one. So even when the surface is dry enough or the right temperature, the cool ambient conditions are going to prolong the curing time.

They can also cause blistering in membranes. And a lot of people think that happens in the summertime when you get the sun out on the membrane, but it also happens in winter where you do get those rays of sunshine coming out and you've got a damp substrate because you've got vapours and moisture in the concrete slab or the screed trying to evaporate.

It prevents the membrane film from developing. All membranes are developed, and without going through a chemistry lesson here, they have a curing phase and that's where the film is formed. And the temperature has a lot to do with that. In really hot conditions it can fry the product, or really cold conditions it can have the opposite effect but the membrane film doesn't develop.

And then what happens is you walk away from the job, you think you've done the job well, and the product will just go to mush.

The other part is you see cracking in membrane. A lot of the times, your client might ring you up and say, "I've seen a crack in the membrane film. What's going on here?" It's actually the cold that can impact membrane film forming, and you get that crazing effect and then you get a surface cracking. And that actually does create an issue.

When you're confronted with those cold conditions, you've got increased risks of softening, re-emulsification because the film hasn't formed because it takes longer, morning dew, etc. It's going to impact the membrane film.

Cementitious membranes. I don't know why this country, we deem cementitious systems as a lower quality and that is not the case. Europe has been built on cementitious systems. High quality cementitious systems, stuff that we don't even see in this country because the standards are so much stricter over there with that. But high performance can handle all the conditions you confront it with and great durability.

Cementitious waterproofing systems provide a great alternative to the one component liquid products in the cold and cooler conditions.

Cementitious products will cure through hydration. Cement hydrates and so it absorbs the water in the system and that's how it dries, and it functions. If you've got a two component where you've got a powder product that's got a polymer in there, that polymer will slow that down, but still that's the chemical process. It's through hydration.

And so if you've had experiences with cement-based systems in the warm conditions, it's not the case when it's in the cooler conditions. And you actually find it's quite the opposite. It gives you a greater working time, and it's a product that can give you a lot of advantages in those cooler conditions because you've got increased workability.

Superior Curing
You've got superior curing abilities because the fact is it will cure through the hydration process. In very cold conditions it will still be a little slower, but it won't be as slow as a one part liquid membrane, because the cement-based product, where the cement has to hydrate, and it will take the water out of the system to dry.

Damp Surfaces
And the other big one is its ability to be applied over a damp surface. And for the fact that it doesn't blister. That's a big advantage. Because cement-based systems have a more durable feel about them, and when they dry and their film's forming, very rare you'll get a blistered membrane with a cement-based product, whereas you would with a really highly flexible one component product on a damp screed.


And the other piece is you've got great resilience very early on. And so what I like about cement-based products particularly when they're exposed outside, if you get rain, you get dew, the fact is that those exposures to moisture or any sort of water content early on in the piece has very little effect on the cement-based system as it would on some of the one component products on the marketplace like a water-based polyurethane, HBR, or acrylic.

And the other piece is its durability. It's a phenomenal durable product, cement-based systems for things like tiling applications. A lot of people use our products like our C-1P in underground applications because the fact is it has great workability in those returning mould situations where you just get dampness, shade, and no warmth on there. It will dry. And when you actually come up above the soil line if you're going to textural paint over it, there are no issues with it in terms of compatibility with paints or textures, and that's a big advantage.

Refer to the data sheet, because all the information is in there. But don't go in with a closed mind about cementitious systems being a no-go situation or a lower quality option. They are in fact a high quality option.