Dr. Sanjay Bahadur, Global CEO, Construction Chemical Division, Pidilite Industries Ltd.
In heavy monsoons, would you be caught wearing a torn canvas jacket? Of course not, what a ridiculous question! You would wear a raincoat. So why not extend the same logic to the building structures you work on?
It is common for contractors to have clients repeatedly cribbing about leakage, even after waterproofing has been done a year before. It is also common knowledge that conventional methods of waterproofing like Brickbat Coba, Mud Phuska and Lime terracing for protecting building structures from leakage barely hold up for one season of rains.
So why are we still using them to waterproof crucial areas like the terrace? Why use only paints as a method of waterproofing for your exterior walls? These methods are bound to fail given the hot and humid weather and heavy monsoons in cities like Mumbai. Exposure to extreme heat and water can take its toll on a structure. It is observed that, in general, water seeps through external walls within the very first five years of a building’s completion. Seepage is also caused by high wind speeds that all high-rise buildings are exposed to. In fact, even the best skyscrapers in the plushest residential complexes have a leakage grouse. And all because of lack of proper waterproofing and preventive external wall care.
The focus of construction technology, therefore, should be to protect structures from the onslaught of water and heat. Leakage is not just cosmetic or a nuisance factor; it can lead to corrosion of beams, which can damage the concrete in a structure. Building envelopes must be adequately designed and constructed to prevent ingress of water. In fact, there are now also available excellent waterproofing solutions that also help in thermal insulation, which result in better energy conservation for a structure with a 25-year long warranty! Not to mention, zero client complaints.
Need of the hour
Very often, the superficial and cosmetic aspects of the building are given greater importance while the critical areas like gaps in between walls, wall coatings, tiling on the terrace etc. take a backseat. At times, gaps in walls can result in serious leakage through external walls. This can damage expensive internal paints and finishing too. According to experts, either cement or general exterior acrylic paint is not sufficient protection for your building. For effective waterproofing of external walls, the coating material should function as a strong impermeable layer around the structure. Hence, one must opt for a high quality acrylic emulsion polymer, which is uniquely combined with weather durable pigments, graded fine fillers and additives, and can act as a barrier to water and carbon dioxide gas; but is permeable to water vapor.
There are unique waterproofing products like Dr. Fixit Raincoat – a high performance acrylic elastomeric coating for external walls, and Dr. Fixit Newcoat Ezee, which can bear heat, humidity and rainfall, and form a layer around the construction of external walls as well as terraces. These products also bridge existing cracks, maintain flexibility and strength over a broad temperature range, resisting dirt pick up and fungal/algal growth. Dr. Fixit Raincoat comes in more than 700 shades (wall paint is not required at all) and is suitable for all types of exterior surfaces—cement and asbestos sheets alike. All in all, they are a cost-effective alternative to regular acrylic decorative paints.
One finds many old buildings which are in a seriously dilapidated state caused by persistent leakage due to cracks in the structure. Some of the old buildings are even heritage structures which demand that they be protected, and any repairs and waterproofing be conducted in a way that does not compromise the integrity and character of the structure. The old/heritage buildings of stone and brick masonry should be protected with a water repellent such as a siliconate-based coating, which is transparent, does not change the original colour of the building, non-staining, and prevents ingress of moisture into the masonry surfaces. It also prevents the efflorescence and growth of fungus on external surfaces, and is very suitable for protection of such masonry buildings.
The smart way
Once there is a willingness to accept new technology and products, one also needs the technical know-how to find the right product and its correct application. Towards this end, Dr. Fixit has introduced a Mobil App and an interactive website that enable a pre-booked tech chat. Most of the contractors we work with are happy to put their questions and waterproofing challenges on chat and have their doubts cleared by experts. This has become a useful resource for contractors working in difficult areas and with persistent leakage problems.
Dr. Fixit has also launched applicator support to educate and train the man-force responsible for building the structure. Further, a team of dedicated technical experts provides site inspection and timely solution and recommendation reports. Dr. Fixit has trained applicators, under the TOP initiative, and they are the ambassadors for good waterproofing workmanship. A TOP applicator denotes quality and reliable service for customers. These trained applicators also visit sites and do waterproofing themselves.