Overcoming Obstacles in Large-Scale Waterproofing Projects

October 1, 2010

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Setting up an effective waterproofing deck coating system for facilities of immense dimensions is often a formidable task. The sheer size brings many challenges that need to be met because of the massive structural elements.

Here are some of the problems, issues and challenges involved in waterproofing large structures:

1. Coverage

The scope of a waterproofing deck coating project for, say, the recent Beijing Olympic Games, is nothing less than vast. The entire area needs waterproofing for roofs, basements, floors and decks. Keeping the area of a large facility safe from water penetration requires extensive skills, techniques, and a large volume of coating not normally encountered in standard-sized projects.

2. Coatings Selection

Although the process of selecting the best waterproofing deck coating products for large structures is no different from paint selection for regular-sized buildings, the project size undeniably introduces complications in the selection process. The barrier system will need appropriate coatings that suit the building’s function and the environmental conditions surrounding the building. The exception is that the coatings will be needed in large quantities to cover larger surface areas.

3. Ease of Installation

A large-scale waterproofing deck coating project needs above-average resources in its implementation. More manpower is needed. The quantities of tools and equipment increase with the size of the project area. And of course, the paint volume is large. All of this because the project has to follow a time schedule, which is the only variable that may not increase despite the scope of the project. For these unique requirements, every resource should be of top quality — from paint, tools, and personnel — to deliver an error-free and on-time project. Skilled applicators should be onsite, high-performing tools should be used, and coating products should be easy to store, mix, apply, cure and dispose of, so as not to disrupt the project’s timeline.

4. Comprehensive Testing

The daunting scope of the waterproofing deck coating project can be a liability if coating effectiveness is not achieved. Coatings can fail due to a poor selection process, improper preparation, or bad application. This could have been prevented if diligent and comprehensive test for leakage has been conducted for the project. Leakage evaluation can be difficult to implement in large-scale projects, but it has to be done despite the enormity of the task, to ensure waterproofing success.

5. Integration with Existing Systems

Size introduces complexity, particularly in integrating the waterproofing deck coating system with the facilities’ other vital engineering systems. Coating applicators must work their way around piping and plumbing systems, HVAC systems, and other complex systems integral to facility operations. The larger area amplifies the logistical complexity of systems integration. Facility owners deal with the complexity at the initial building planning and design stage, wherein the waterproofing system is installed right at the start of construction, to lessen the chances of membrane failure.

Large structures are often considered a triumph in human engineering. The size is impressive, but very little is known about the collective amount of effort that went behind making the building so. Particularly in waterproofing deck coating application for immense structures, everything is magnified — from the skills and size of the crew, to the quantity of materials and coatings needed to coat the surface areas, to the quality of waterproofing deck coating products that need to withstand major loads and traffic for a long period of time.

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