Tiled balconies can cause a host of problems to your home if not waterproofed properly, particularly if they sit over important rooms in the house. For starters, the water run-off can result in water damage to the home's interior, characterised by damp walls, peeling paint and other structural problems that are costly to repair. This article discusses commonly asked questions about balcony waterproofing where water damage has begun.
What are common signs of water damage?
The most important part of balcony waterproofing design is how water drainage points are set up. In addition, the floor-to-wall joints must be properly treated to avoid damage. You can tell that your balcony has some water damage if you notice any of these:
- Gaps, crumbling or cracking in the grout between tiles
- Erosion or cracks in the substrate/concrete base
- Insufficient water drainage i.e. water pooling in certain portions of the balcony
- Missing or damaged waterproofing membranes
- Efflorescence – This occurs because of the buildup of salts around the edges and on top of balconies, and it can only happen in the presence of water; if you notice it, there's probably water pooling somewhere on your balcony.
How can a water-damaged balcony be waterproofed?
Waterproofing the balcony at the time of construction is best, but if you're looking to waterproof after noticing some water damage, you have a few options.
Using waterproofing products is the cheaper option and is ideal where you have a sound concrete base or substrate. A waterproofing contractor can give a better assessment of your balcony's condition. If your substrate has already eroded or cracked, merely using waterproofing products on the surface won't resolve the leaks. You must first repair the concrete base/substrate before waterproofing. Once repaired, the following treatments are recommended.
Waterproofing membrane – This should be applied around the tiled area's perimeter in order to act as a water barrier. Some products come with instructions you can follow to do the job yourself.
Water repellent – This is a penetrating sealer applied on grout to prevent water penetration through the grout. Water repellent can be applied when repairing gaps or cracks in your grout. Repellent should also be applied as part of regular home maintenance, particularly in external tiled spaces. If the grout is crumbling, it is best to remove it completely before reapplying with repellent.
Complete reworking – This should be done if your substrate/concrete base has damage. It involves complete removal of your tile-work in order to reapply waterproofing after repairs. Such projects should only be done by professionals.