Installing Waterproofing for Masonry Walls


Waterproofing is an essential step in protecting masonry walls from moisture and potential damage. Whether you are a Homeowner or a professional Contractor, understanding the various installation methods for waterproofing masonry walls is crucial. In this article, we will delve into the different techniques and provide you with valuable insights to ensure the long-term durability and integrity of your masonry walls.

Importance of Waterproofing Masonry Walls

Before we dive into the installation methods, let’s first understand why waterproofing masonry walls is of utmost importance. Masonry walls, such as brick or concrete structures, are susceptible to water infiltration, which can lead to various issues, including:

  1. Moisture damage: Water penetration through masonry walls can cause deterioration, leading to cracks, spalling, efflorescence, and weakening of the structure over time.
  2. Mold and mildew growth: Excessive moisture can create a conducive environment for mold and mildew to thrive, posing health risks and affecting indoor air quality.
  3. Energy inefficiency: Water infiltration can compromise the insulation properties of masonry walls, resulting in increased energy consumption for heating and cooling purposes.
  4. Interior damage: Uncontrolled water leakage can damage interior finishes, compromise electrical systems, and result in costly Repairs.

With the understanding of the repercussions of water ingress, let’s explore the installation methods for waterproofing masonry walls.

Installation Methods

1. Surface Treatments

Surface treatments involve the application of a waterproof coating or sealer directly onto the masonry wall’s surface. These coatings act as a barrier, preventing water penetration. The most common types of surface treatments include:

  • Silicone-based sealers: These sealers penetrate the masonry surface and form a protective waterproof layer from within. They are often used for below-grade waterproofing applications.
  • Acrylic-based coatings: Acrylic sealants offer excellent waterproofing capabilities while allowing the masonry wall to breathe. They come in various colors and finishes, enhancing the aesthetics of the structure.
  • Elastomeric coatings: Elastomeric coatings are flexible and can accommodate structural movements without compromising their waterproofing abilities. They are often used for building facades and exterior walls.

Surface treatments are relatively easy to apply and are suitable for both new construction and renovations. However, they require periodic Maintenance and reapplication to ensure continuous protection.

2. Integral Waterproofing

Integral waterproofing involves incorporating a waterproofing admixture into the masonry wall during the mixing process. The admixture chemically reacts with the concrete or mortar, creating a hydrophobic barrier throughout the structure. This method offers several advantages:

  • Seamless protection: Integral waterproofing provides uniform protection throughout the masonry wall, minimizing the risk of water infiltration at potential weak points.
  • Long-lasting performance: The waterproofing admixture becomes an integral part of the structure, ensuring long-term durability and reducing maintenance requirements.
  • Improved concrete properties: Along with providing waterproofing, integral admixtures can enhance the strength, workability, and durability of the concrete or mortar.

It is important to note that integral waterproofing is most effective when incorporated during the initial construction phase. Retroactively applying this method to existing masonry walls can be challenging and less efficient.

3. External Waterproofing Membranes

External waterproofing membranes involve the application of a waterproof barrier on the exterior of the masonry wall. These membranes are typically composed of bituminous or synthetic materials and are available in various forms, including:

  • Sheet membranes: These membranes come in large sheets that are adhered to the masonry wall using an adhesive or torching technique.
  • Liquid-applied membranes: Liquid membranes are applied directly onto the masonry surface using a sprayer, roller, or brush. They cure to form a flexible, continuous waterproof layer.

External waterproofing membranes provide excellent protection against water infiltration, as they create a physical barrier between the masonry and the external environment. They are commonly used for below-grade applications, such as foundations and basements, and can withstand high hydrostatic pressure.


  1. Can I waterproof existing masonry walls?
    Yes, it is possible to waterproof existing masonry walls using surface treatments or external waterproofing membranes. However, the effectiveness may vary, and it is recommended to consult a professional for accurate assessment and recommendations.

  2. How long does waterproofing masonry walls last?
    The lifespan of waterproofing systems depends on various factors, including the quality of materials used, installation technique, exposure to weather conditions, and maintenance. On average, well-installed waterproofing can last between 10 to 30 years.

  3. Can I perform waterproofing myself, or should I hire a professional?
    While some surface treatment applications can be performed by homeowners, it is advisable to hire a professional contractor for more complex waterproofing methods. Professionals have the expertise, tools, and knowledge to ensure proper installation and long-lasting results.


Properly waterproofing masonry walls is crucial in preventing water ingress, protecting the structural integrity, and ensuring the longevity of these structures. By familiarizing yourself with the various installation methods, such as surface treatments, integral waterproofing, and external waterproofing membranes, you can make informed decisions and take appropriate actions to safeguard your masonry walls. Remember to consult professionals when needed and maintain regular inspections and maintenance to preserve the effectiveness of the waterproofing systems.

Cape Town Waterproofing

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