(Pro Tip: NO.)
You may have heard the term “crystalline waterproofing,” also referred to as “integral waterproofing.” Concrete is naturally porous. Like death and taxes, it’s a fact of life — your concrete is going to absorb water, waterborne contaminants, and chemicals. The good news is, you have a defensive move. Whenever you need to defend your concrete from these normal intruders, and whenever positive-side sheet membrane waterproofing doesn’t cut it, that’s when crystalline waterproofing taps sheet membrane on the shoulder and says “It’s my turn to dance with this beautiful concrete.”
Are there new innovations and improvements in cementitious waterproofing? We have answers. Let’s dive in.
What is Crystalline Waterproofing?
Crystalline waterproofing is a no-VOCs (volatile organic compounds) system for protecting your concrete from any water or water-borne materials. (Click here for a handy VOC Compliance Map.). This unique chemistry of hydrophobic (water repellent) admixture turns polar water molecules into non-polar molecules and then forms spherical molecules to block the micro-capillary pores. This creates the waterproofing protection. Lab tests have shown them so durable they withstand up to 200 psi, or 460 feet of hydrostatic pressure. As you may have surmised, no-VOCs cementitious solutions are more likely to be LEED qualifying, and to help you determine this, bookmark our convenient LEED Credit Calculator. (Source: Understanding Integral Waterproofing | WATERPROOF! Magazine – waterproofmag.com)
Crystalline waterproofing occurs when calcium hydroxide, free lime and moisture in the concrete react with your non-soluble crystalline product of choice. The crystalline admixture reacts to fill the micro-cracks, pores and capillaries with insoluble, needle-like crystals that can self-seal hairline cracks up to 0.5mm (or 0.02 inches) and seal-heal for years beyond the date of your original construction.
With crystalline waterproofing, your concrete is protected from water and water-borne chemicals, even if your concrete is exposed to high hydrostatic pressure. As any form of water attempts to penetrate your concrete, the self-sealing new crystals form to grow and seal it off. This gives any building incredible protection from water.
How is Crystalline Waterproofing Applied?
There are two ways contractors apply crystalline waterproofing systems – either through surface application or by integral waterproofing admixtures (the crystalline product is already added to the concrete mix). It can be used for negative and positive waterproofing as a brush-on or spray-applied slurry.
Limitations of Crystalline Waterproofing
For all of their chemically reactive advantages, all crystalline waterproofing admixtures have limitations. Some of these include:
- It should not be used in structures in the area where constant movement occurs.
- they will not span cracks larger than half a millimeter. Joints, penetrations, and transitions need careful attention when applying crystalline waterproofing products.
- In some construction projects, contractors may still need to incorporate a robust drainage system solution to prevent water from building up throughout the life of the building.
The 7 Old-Style Crystalline Problems We Have Resolved
W. R. MEADOWS recently purchased GEMITE, the Canada-based construction chemicals innovator who created our Cem-Kote CW Plus and Cem-Kote Flex ST products. (See our press release.) These products have 7 distinct time-saving, money-saving and protection advantages over traditional crystalline waterproofing products, including:
- Next-Day New Concrete Application – Cem-Kote CW Plus has extremely fast activation and becomes effective at stopping water in a few days vs. a few weeks (the norm for old-style crystalline waterproofing). It can be applied the very next day after placing concrete.
- Unique Crystalline-Membrane Combo – Cem-Kote CW Plus combines crystalline waterproofing with a tough membrane waterproofing for fast activation. It can be used for negative and positive waterproofing, as a brush or spray-applied slurry.
- Seals Larger Substrate Moving Cracks – Larger substrate cracks are waterproofed overnight by combining the Cem-Kote CW Plus system with Reinforcing Fabric HD embedded in a layer of Cem-Kote Flex ST. This allows the waterproofing application to proceed the next day. Old-style crystalline materials can only seal non-moving, hairline cracks, and are unable to seal larger cracks that are moving due to temperature change and structural loading (filling & emptying tanks). The “cut-and-fill method” used by conventional crystalline supplies is time-consuming, costly, and requires more time to develop the crystalline action to properly function.
- Equally Effective on Old Concrete Structures – When old concrete is starved of free silicate from the membrane waterproofing mechanism carbonation, Cem-Kote CW Plus is still as effective as it is on new concrete.
- Longer Open Time and Easier Application – Cem-Kote CW Plus resolves the issue other crystalline products have with the short “working time” after mixing and the higher ambient temperature that further shorten the set times, which creates a very trying application.
- Cost Savings – Cem-Kote CW Plus provides easier applications, longer open times and simpler, faster crack treatments, resulting in lower application costs.
- Bonus: Customer Satisfaction – Resolving the issues that have plagued contractors for years with old-style crystalline waterproofing products has resulted in happier contractors, building owners, specifiers, and architects.
To find out more about W. R. MEADOWS new construction project capabilities because of our GEMITE acquisition, please click here. To learn more about our Cem-Kote CW Plus and Cem-Kote Flex ST & Reinforcing Fabric HD, call us at (800)-342-5976 or visit wrmeadows.com.
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