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Waterproofing is a means of extending the durability, beauty and usefulness of an object or structure by making it waterproof or water-resistant so that water will have little to no detrimental effect on its usefulness and purpose. Alternatively, waterproofing may be applied to enable an object to contain fluids without seepage or leaking into the surrounding area.
Many people immediately think of roofs and exterior walls when it comes to any mention of waterproofing, but its applications extend well beyond buildings and other construction projects. Waterproofing is primarily aimed at keeping water and damp out of buildings and to prevent leaks, thereby keeping the interiors comfortable and dry and to maintain the structural integrity of the buildings. Damp proofing is another aspect of waterproofing, and outer structural walls are built with a damp-proof course which is aimed at preventing rising damp and the growth of mould on walls. By contrast, waterproofing such as plastic pond or pool liners serves to keep water within specific areas such as man-made ponds and swimming pools and prevents leakage into the surrounding areas.
The usual sloping roofs of buildings and construction projects are necessarily able to withstand the onslaught and run-off of water, and this is achieved through materials such as thick plastic sheeting laid underneath the roof tiles or aluminium sheeting, as well as flashing which is used around areas such as chimneys, skylights, dormer windows and heat extraction devices which are mounted in the roof. In buildings with flat roofs, specific processes are used to ensure that water has an escape route and that the roof has a waterproof covering which will be impervious to wet conditions. See Uptasker for a list of roofing or building contractors who specialise in these areas.
Balconies in blocks of flats must be waterproofed, so that each balcony presents a leak-proof roof to the balcony below.
Because fixing a leaking tiled balcony is an expensive, time-consuming and inconvenient process, such waterproofing should ideally be properly carried out when the building is constructed, but even so, over time all materials degrade and problems can occur. If you experience problems in this regard, call in a waterproofing specialist immediately who can guarantee a long-term fix.
Outdoor structures and furniture made out of wood or porous materials are waterproofed to prevent rotting through the application of sealants and varnishes which repel water. Metal items which are prone to rust are waterproofed through the use of specific paints and treatments which protect them from water and oxidation and thus extend their usefulness and beauty. These protective treatments need to be reapplied every couple of years or so to provide maximum protection on a long-term basis in extreme weather conditions.
Waterproofing extends to motor vehicles as well. Flatbed trucks, open bakkies without canopies and even open trailers are sometimes coated with a liquid rubber waterproof product which cures to a tough flexible membrane that protects them from rust and also shields against scratches and superficial dents, whilst also adding a layer of protection for more fragile goods during transport.
The choice of contractor you appoint depends on the problem you are experiencing. It is probably fair to estimate that the majority of waterproofing needs are related to roofs or walls, and for such problems there is a wide selection of contractors open to you. Word of mouth referrals are always best as a first choice, but if this is not possible then check newspapers, home improvement magazines, or online for advertisements placed by contractors. If following this route, be sure to check the reviews from previous customers. Uptasker is a valuable resource when looking for reputable contractors in your area, together with online reviews and testimonials. Do not discount the value of reviews, as these will give you a clear indication of the contractor’s ability to resolve the problem and work within agreed budget and time constraints.
Whilst you may be able to easily sort out some of the smaller and niggly waterproofing tasks yourself with off-the-shelf products which are perfectly adequate for the purpose, the larger and more complex jobs need the skill of a competent and experienced specialist. Tackling jobs which are too large and complex for you as an amateur will ultimately result in more expensive and extensive repairs. In such cases, call the specialists and relax in the knowledge that they will have the problem resolved quickly and without further worries. For more tips, see our waterproofing articles.