Damp proofing for high-rise buildings

Dampness in high-rise structures is a common issue, particularly in coastal areas and regions with high humidity levels. As a property owner or facility manager, it is essential to know and understand the sources of dampness and the solutions to prevent it. Dampness can lead to significant structural damage, health hazards, and loss of rental income. In this article, we will explore the specialized damp proofing techniques suitable for high-rise structures.

What causes dampness in high-rise structures?

High-rise structures are prone to various sources of dampness, some of which include:

  • Condensation: This happens when warm moist air comes into contact with cold surfaces leading to the formation of water droplets.

  • Rainwater penetration: Leaks can occur due to poorly installed or damaged windows, roofs, or facades.

  • Rising damp: When moisture rises through walls and floors due to capillary action, it causes efflorescence, rot, and other related problems.

  • Plumbing leaks: Faulty pipes and fittings can cause water to leak into walls and floors, leading to dampness and mold growth.

  • Groundwater seepage: Buildings located below the water table level can experience dampness due to water seeping through the foundation walls and floors.

Specialized damp proofing techniques

Various specialized damp proofing techniques can be used to protect high-rise structures from dampness. Here are some of the most effective techniques:

Waterproofing coatings

Waterproofing coatings are designed to prevent moisture from penetrating concrete and masonry surfaces. These coatings are applied in liquid form and provide a seamless barrier against water and other elements. The most common types of waterproofing coatings include:

  • Cementitious coatings: Composed of cement, polymers, and other additives, cementitious coatings are suitable for both below and above-grade surfaces.

  • Silicone coatings: These coatings provide superior UV resistance and flexibility and can be used on various substrates such as metal, concrete, and masonry.

  • Acrylic coatings: Acrylic coatings are water-based and are easy to apply. They are ideal for flat roof surfaces.

  • Polyurethane coatings: Polyurethane coatings are oil-based and provide excellent resistance to chemical and abrasion.

Cavity wall insulation

Cavity wall insulation is a specialized technique used to prevent rising damp by filling the gap between the inner and outer brickwork with insulation material. The insulation material serves as a thermal barrier that prevents warm air from coming into contact with cold surfaces, reducing the risk of condensation.


Tanking is a technique used to create a waterproof barrier on the interior surfaces of the basement or below-grade areas. A waterproof membrane is applied to the walls and floors, creating a tank-like structure that prevents water from seeping through. Tanking is ideal for buildings located below the water table level, where groundwater seepage is a common issue.

Damp proof courses (DPC)

A damp-proof course is a barrier that prevents moisture from rising from the ground through walls and into the building. The barrier is usually installed in the walls at the base of the building and can be made of various materials such as plastic, rubber, or bitumen felt.

Drainage systems

Drainage systems such as French drains and sump pumps are used to collect and remove excess water from high-rise structures. French drains are trenches filled with gravel that collects and redirects water away from the building. Sump pumps, on the other hand, are installed in basements and below-grade areas, and they pump out excess water to the exterior.


  1. How do I know if my building has dampness issues?

There are various signs of dampness in buildings, including a musty smell, discolored walls, peeling wallpaper, mold growth, and a high relative humidity level.

  1. Can dampness lead to structural damage?

Yes, dampness can lead to significant structural damage, including concrete spalling, corroded reinforcement, and rotting wood.

  1. Is dampness a health hazard?

Yes, dampness can lead to various health hazards, including respiratory problems and allergies.

  1. How long does it take to damp-proof a building?

The time it takes to damp-proof a building depends on the size and complexity of the building and the damp proofing technique used. However, most projects take between two to four weeks to complete.


Dampness is a common problem in high-rise structures, and it can lead to significant damage if not addressed promptly. Specialized damp proofing techniques such as waterproofing coatings, cavity wall insulation, tanking, DPC, and drainage systems are effective in preventing dampness and its associated problems. Property owners and facility managers should seek the Services of qualified and experienced contractors to undertake damp-proofing projects. By using the right techniques, you can protect your high-rise structure from dampness and prolong its lifespan.

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