Learning how to seal a concrete balcony can save you from dealing with some serious home repairs. Concrete left unsealed is prone to moisture damage, cracks and failure, all of which can lead to major homeowner headaches.
When it comes to protecting your home, you might already know the importance of waterproofing your outdoor deck. Waterproofing decks protect the surface from water damage, including mould and dry rot. Something that you might not think about as much is waterproofing a balcony. Read on to find out the scoop on whether or not your balcony needs to be waterproofed.
The fact of the matter is that if you want to keep your home safe and the people you love safe, then getting your balcony waterproofed is essential. This is especially true if your balcony is wood-framed as these balconies experience a higher rate of failure than others. Wood-framed balconies can experience leaks, visible damages as well as invisible damages. These invisible damages include structural damages from dry rot. Dry rot affects the integrity of the wood from the inside out. One way to spot dry rot is to press down on a piece of wood with your foot or hand. If the wood feels spongy and does not feel like a usual hard surface, this is a good indicator that dry rot is present.
If your balcony has a concrete structure, it doesn’t quite mean that you’re off the hook. Concrete structures need to be waterproofed as well. Waterproofing the concrete means that you’ll be giving the concrete an added level of protection. Waterproofing concrete also prevents cracks from forming, prevents mould and mildew and protects from UV rays. This is especially important as most balconies receive high amounts of direct UV rays. Another thing to consider is that when you waterproof your balcony, you’ll be saving money in the long run. Repairing a deck that has water damage will almost always be significantly more expensive than simply getting it waterproofed in the first place. If you have a balcony, be sure to talk to a professional about waterproofing.
Check out Hitch Property Constructions for a wide range of balcony repairs.
What to do before waterproofing a balcony or a terrace
In order to waterproof a balcony or a terrace, first of all, it’s necessary to evaluate the existing conditions of the area to be treated because, depending on the state of conservation of the balcony or terrace on which you want to intervene, there are different solutions and different steps to follow, more or less invasive to restore or to do a new waterproofing system.
The first thing to evaluate is the state of the existing flooring, that is the visible layer, which is also the easiest to investigate regarding its state of conservation. This evaluation can be carried out, for example, by checking if the volumes of the joints are consistent or missing because in most cases it’s from the joints that the water starts to infiltrate and therefore the waterproofing effect of the finish is missing.
Consequently, the water will begin to deteriorate the whole pack, with serious damage to the elements. In parallel, it’s possible to check the status of the elements of the flooring even if these are for outdoor and therefore waterproofing, any cracks or breakages of the same provide access to water creating infiltration points.
Why Your Balcony Needs to Be Sealed
Concrete is pretty tough looking, particularly when new. This smooth, rock-like substance appears to be strong and fairly indestructible. In reality, however, concrete is porous, which means that it can absorb liquid.
This may not sound like a big problem until you begin to consider the fact that rain, snow and ice are all liquids your balcony will be subject to. Add in some spilled wine on an evening out enjoying the view from your balcony, and you’ve got quite a mess on your hands.
Over time, the rain and snow your balcony absorbs will weaken the concrete structurally. Cracks will begin to appear in the surface, allowing even more moisture to seep in. When this water freezes, it expands, potentially breaking your balcony and making it unsafe for use.
Sealing cement or concrete with an impregnating sealer stops this moisture absorption. The result is a balcony that is stain resistant, moisture resistant, easier to clean and less prone to cracks and damage.
Types of Concrete Sealant
There are many types of concrete sealant on the market today, some with a silicone base and others with a water base. Both have their pros and cons to consider before purchasing.
Silicone Based Sealers
Silicone-based sealers are more expensive than water-based sealers, but they hold up longer and need to be reapplied less frequently. A sudden, unexpected rain shower the day after you seal your balcony with a silicone-based sealer is nothing to fear the way it is with water-based sealers. Silicone sealers do contain high levels of VOCs; however, giving them a strong odour.
Water-based sealers are easier to apply than silicone-based sealers because they can be cleaned up easily in case of spills. While still wet and curing, the sealer can be broken down and washed away by more water, so an accidental spill to the ground below won’t be such a large problem. Water-based sealers need to be applied more frequently than silicone sealers, as often as twice a year in rough climates, but they do have lower VOCs, which is better for the environment.
Waterproofing your balcony
In a flat or apartment, the balcony is often the only place where you can enjoy the outdoors. But even if you have a house with a garden, a balcony is often a delightful addition where one can retreat quietly or enjoy the view. A balcony is often made from reinforced concrete. In order to prevent it from being unsightly, or the suspension getting damaged, it is wise to waterproof your concrete balcony. In this article, we look at the structure of a balcony, the effect of moisture on the structure and appearance, and we present you with the solution for a waterproof balcony.
The construction of a balcony
Balconies can be constructed in many different ways. Sometimes the balcony is literally a stacking of balconies below it, or it is placed in columns, but often the balcony hangs from the house. That can be done via beams that have been pulled through the construction of the house, or with anchors which are attached to the facade. The floor of a balcony will often be of reinforced concrete as well. Reinforced concrete is a concrete structure where concrete is poured around a frame of steel wires. Thanks to this reinforcement, the construction is much stronger than concrete without reinforcing, and it prevents the concrete floor from sagging, damaging or even collapsing.
The impact of moisture on your balcony
Concrete – a mixture of cement, sand, gravel and water – has pores and is not completely waterproof by itself. Especially when small damages create holes, water will be able to penetrate it. With a balcony in which reinforced concrete is used, and also other metal is incorporated in the support structure, the probability exists that at any point in time the metal gets exposed to water and oxygen, and starts to rust. The rusting metal expands and will push the concrete and the construction apart. This process is called concrete decay and can be identified by different things.
Ugly rust spots in the concrete are the least of the problem, far worse is pieces of concrete letting loose, which endangers people underneath the balcony. And eventually, the construction itself can collapse, with disastrous consequences. In 2009, for example, the combination of concrete decay and some rusted metal anchors caused the collapse of massive brick facade panels in The Hague (in the Netherlands). In this particular case, there was only material damage, but if the same thing happened with a balcony or gallery with people on it, it would be a disaster.
Waterproofing a balcony
Often, the concrete of the balcony is covered with a sealing or protective layer. If that is the case, it is important this layer remains in good condition and receives maintenance when necessary. However, if there are parts of the concrete which come in direct contact with the outside air, or when solely concrete is used, then it is useful to make the concrete waterproof. Permacon is the ultimate solution for this. Permacon makes concrete completely and permanently waterproof and stops rising damp. Permacon thereby prevents the formation of concrete decay and also keeps your balcony free from algae and fungi.
Permacon is an especially effective product. Concrete always has pores, and often small cracks and other openings. Permacon ensures that each pore or opening in the moisture exchange area – which is a layer of about 2 centimetres measured from the surface – is saturated with an insoluble gel. Normally moisture can reside in these gaps, but the solid gel that Permacon creates is not liquid and remains fixed in its place. This way, all rising damps or absorption of moisture is being stopped. The gel also fixes harmful substances such as chlorides, sulphates and other contaminants inside the concrete. Stronger and impenetrable concrete is the result.
Our Permacon is a colourless and environmentally friendly water-based liquid that can be easily applied by any do-it-yourselfer. For larger areas, such as an entire balcony floor, you can apply it with a low-pressure spray, while for smaller surfaces and parts you can use a brush. The final result is even more impressive if you have your concrete balcony floor finished with a water-repellent coating like Oppercon. For waterproofing concrete floors, however, this is not necessary, it is already guaranteed with Permacon.
Looking for balcony repairs Melbourne? Look no further. Hitch Property Constructions has you covered.
Waterproofing a tiled balcony
When not properly waterproofed a tiled balcony can lead to a multitude of problems, especially a balcony sited above other rooms in a property. Water damage from balconies can cause extensive water damage to interiors and result in damp, peeling paint and other structural problems that can be expensive to fix.
Where leaks or water damage has already started to occur, either due to lack of waterproofing or as a result of waterproofing failure, there are two courses of action to consider.
Before resorting to the second, a more expensive option, you might want to try and resolve waterproofing issues by applying products onto the existing tiled area. Bear in mind, however, that this step assumes that the substrate or concrete base is in sound condition. Where obvious damage is visible to the substrate, such as cracks or erosion, applying products over the surface to resolve leaks will result in failure, since damage to the substrate or concrete slabs must be repaired prior to waterproofing.
The second option is to remove the tiles in order to apply or reapply to waterproof. A project of this nature is best left to a professional contractor, and it is in your interests to obtain three quotations from local contractors and ask for references on previous jobs undertaken.
Since every balcony is different in design, this article takes a general look at the topic of waterproofing a tiled balcony using a variety of products that are applied onto the existing tiled surface.
All waterproofing jobs, no matter what the design of a balcony, need to fully address water drainage points, as well as wall and floor joints. Inspect the balcony for signs of failure. Common signs to look out for are:
- Insufficient drainage
- Cracked or missing grout
- Cracks or damage to the substrate
- Failed or missing waterproofing membrane
- Signs of efflorescence
Efflorescence is caused by an accumulation of salts that builds up on top or around the edges of balconies. Since efflorescence cannot form without water, visible efflorescence is a sign that water is pooling or not draining properly.
A waterproofing membrane can be installed around the perimeter of a tiled area to provide a waterproof barrier effectively. Follow the recommended application instructions to ensure a successful installation.
Penetrating water repellent
Applied as a sealer over the grout, a penetrating sealer blocks water penetration. When replacing cracked or missing grout applies a penetrating water repellent product to ensure adequate waterproofing. Any external tiling should be treated with penetrating water repellent and re-application applied as part of a regular maintenance programme.
Damp or waterproofing treatment
Where paint has started to bubble or peel due to damp, you will find damp or waterproofing treatments that can be applied. Follow the manufacturer’s recommended guidelines for application.
An exterior balcony that is open to the elements should allow for adequate water run-off or drainage to ensure that pooling or water build-up does not occur.
Where possible, drainage should be integrated into the existing downpipes of the property to reduce the risk of water damage, or a downpipe fitted to allow water removal. Too many properties are incorrectly fitted with a pipe or open drain that allows water flow from the balcony only for that water to run down exterior walls. This method of drainage can cause extensive damage to property walls.
You will find a variety of waterproofing options at your local Builders Warehouse or hardware store, each designed for a specific purpose. If in any doubt as to the correct product to use for your application, ask for advice from the manufacturer/supplier or sales staff.
How to avoid leaks on the balcony or terrace
Always pay attention to choose the correct size of the joints and the material with which make them according to the type of flooring you want to apply on your balcony or terrace.
For example floors with generously sized tiles have been used more and more often, so that the joints must be proportioned to that, so the friction does not create subsequent cracks in the flooring and risks of infiltration.
Another element to pay particular attention to are the thresholds, namely the connection between balcony or terrace and the window-door that links it inside the house; it’s a good rule that these are at least 1 inch higher than the walkway of the balcony even if more and more often, for aesthetic reasons, are made at the same level of the floor, so the rainwater disposal function is only given to the slope of the package.
With regard to the treatment of details such as wall-floor corners, expansion joints or drains, special preformed elements are usually created to be used with the various waterproofing systems proposed and may be butyl tapes, gauze or strips that provide additional waterproofing in those points where the risk of leaks is always greater due to their particular complexity of geometric conformation.
Hitch Property Constructions has a wide range of the Melbourne balcony repairs right here.
Characteristics of the ideal product to waterproof a balcony or terrace
The ideal system for waterproofing a balcony or a terrace must provide a waterproofing layer that is elastic and extremely tough while ensuring extraordinary adhesion to the cement bond that will be used for applying the flooring. It will be simple to apply as the components specifically studied to treat the details (such as wall to floor corners and drains).
The technical documentation of these systems must have characteristics that comply with the regulations in force for its intended use.
In the realization of waterproofing systems for balconies or terraces, it’s important the ability to know how to evaluate and consequently choose the waterproofing system best suited to the existing situation regardless of whether it’s new construction or the adjustment of a pre-existing situation; it’s, therefore, necessary realize it to perfection, paying particular attention to all types of details and to the accurate treatment of them, which in most cases represent the critical points from which water leaks occur causing the subsequent problems.