A Guide from W. R. MEADOWS, INC.
Retaining walls are an important aspect of any construction project that involves a significant change in elevation. They are designed to hold back soil or other materials, preventing erosion and protecting the foundation of a building or structure. They are commonly used to create level areas for building, and are crucial in managing the flow of water and preventing damage. However, retaining walls are also susceptible to water intrusion, which can lead to cracking, deterioration, and ultimately, failure.
To prevent water damage and ensure the longevity of your retaining wall, it’s crucial to incorporate waterproofing measures into your design. In this blog post, we’ll cover some of the best practices and products for waterproofing a retaining wall.
The Importance of Waterproofing Retaining Walls
Waterproofing retaining walls is crucial for several reasons:
- Structural Integrity: Water can seep through the soil and infiltrate retaining walls, causing damage over time. Waterproofing helps maintain the wall’s structural integrity and ensures that it remains stable and functional.
- Preventing Water Damage: Without proper waterproofing, water can seep through retaining walls, causing erosion, and potentially damaging nearby structures, such as homes or buildings. Waterproofing prevents this water damage and protects your property.
- Mold and Mildew Prevention: Water infiltration can lead to the growth of mold and mildew, which can cause health issues and damage to structures. Waterproofing helps to prevent this growth, keeping your retaining wall and surrounding area safe and healthy.
After assessing these factors, you can choose the most appropriate waterproofing method for your retaining wall. Some common waterproofing methods include:
- Sheet Membrane Waterproofing: Sheet membranes are pre-formed waterproofing sheets that are adhered to the retaining wall. They provide a durable, water-tight barrier that is easy to install to provide continuity on the wall. This type of waterproofing is ideal for long term protection of the occupied space and the substrate.
- Liquid Membrane Waterproofing: Liquid membrane waterproofing involves applying a liquid coating to the surface of the retaining wall, creating a seamless, watertight barrier. They are flexible and can be applied to a variety of surfaces. Liquid applied waterproofing is dependent upon the applicator and as a result, they should be fully trained in the installation of these types of materials.
- Cementitious Waterproofing: Cementitious waterproofing involves the application of a cement-based mixture, as a slurry, to the retaining wall, forming a durable, water-resistant barrier. This method is relatively easy to apply and can be quite effective in waterproofing retaining walls. It is particularly well-suited for concrete retaining walls and can be used in conjunction with other waterproofing methods for added protection; however, it may not be as flexible as other methods, making it more susceptible to cracking over time.
- Drainage Systems: Installing proper drainage systems, such as weep holes, perforated pipes, or drainage mats, can help to manage water infiltration and reduce the hydrostatic pressure on the retaining wall. These systems are to be used in conjunction with other waterproofing methods to provide an effective waterproofing system.
- Integral Waterproofing: Integral waterproofing involves adding a waterproofing agent to the concrete mix used to build the retaining wall.
- Bentonite Clay Waterproofing: Bentonite clay is a natural material that swells when wet, creating a watertight barrier. This method is environmentally friendly and provides excellent waterproofing. However, it can be more difficult to apply and may not be suitable for all types of retaining walls.
Remember, it’s crucial to consult with a professional waterproofing contractor or engineer to ensure the chosen method is suitable for your specific site conditions and retaining wall type. Proper waterproofing will help prolong the life of your retaining wall and protect your investment.
W. R. MEADOWS, INC. offers a range of waterproofing products for retaining walls, including MEL-ROL® self-adhered waterproofing membrane, MEL-ROL LM, HYDRALASTIC® 836, CEM-KOTE line of products, and MEL-DRAIN® drainage products.
- MEL-ROL LM
- MEL-DRAIN TOTAL-DRAIN
- MEADOW-PATCH T1
- MEADOW-PATCH SMOOTH-GRADE
- HYDRALASTIC 836
To find out more about W. R. MEADOWS building envelope solutions, including our various Waterproofing Systems, please click here.
We get a lot of questions about how you waterproof an elevator pit, so our Canada technical representative Gary Tench,…
Concrete blocks have been used for many years as the alternative to a poured concrete foundation wall. Since concrete blocks…