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design right

Weatherproofing
concrete block
walls
A waterproof coating is essential to maintain the weathertightness
of single skin concrete block walls since concrete masonry, and
particularly the mortar joints, have little resistance to water
penetration.
By Alide Elkink, Freelance Technical Writer

S
ingle-skin concrete masonry construc­ Plastering systems Plastering offers a wide selection of surface
tion is not covered as an Acceptable Concrete blockwork may be finished with a finishes ranging from very fine, almost smooth
Solution in the compliance document solid plaster finish or a proprietary plaster finishes to quite rough textured finishes.
E2/AS1. However, NZS 4229:1999 finish which will need to be consented as an Whichever system is used, a waterproof coating
Concrete masonry buildings not requiring specific Alternative Solution. Options include: such as an acrylic paint must be applied, as
engineering design requires that construction ❚❚ an acrylic plaster cement-based plaster systems are not water­
is in accordance with Building Code clause ❚❚ a polymer-modified cement-based plaster proof in their own right (see Table 1).
E2 External moisture to prevent damage to ❚❚ a mineral plaster
building components through the absorption or ❚❚ an insulating plaster system. EIFS (exterior insulation and finishing
transmission of moisture through the walls. Solid plaster is typically applied in two or system)
three coats with a finished thickness between An EIFS system offers another option for
Waterproofing options 14–22 mm. Requirements for solid plastering finishing concrete block walls. These systems
NZS 4229 describes how masonry walls can are given in NZS 4251. consist of rigid polystyrene sheets fixed to the
be waterproofed using an alkali-resistant, water- Proprietary plaster systems may range exterior face of the concrete blockwork by:
based dispersion coating system between in thickness from 6–18 mm depending on ❚❚ trowelled-on plaster base coat
180–250 microns thick applied in two or three whether they are light-weight, polymer-modified ❚❚ proprietary adhesive
coats. Typically, this means an acrylic paint systems or insulating plaster systems containing ❚❚ polypropylene fasteners inserted into
finish to the exterior face of the wall to give polystyrene bead. They should be applied predrilled holes in the concrete masonry
compliance with clauses E2.3.2 and E2.3.3. according to the manufacturer’s specifications. ❚❚ a combination of all three fixing types above.
High-build acrylic or elastomeric coatings are
similar to ordinary paint finishes but have the Table 1: Summary of requirements for concrete masonry plaster finishes.
ability to bridge gaps and cracks in the surface
System Total No. of plaster Substrate coating Waterproof
and have more flexibility to resist movement. thickness coats coating required
They have a greater finished film thickness,
Solid plaster 14–22 mm 2 or 3 Cement slurry or scratch Yes
excellent adhesion and resistance to UV and
coat to masonry to even
weathering, but are less vapour-permeable
out porosity and provide
than an ordinary acrylic house paint. They are a bonding layer
typically applied to blockwork in three coats at
Proprietary 6­–18 mm Varies according Bond coat, e.g. cement Yes
90 microns per dry coat.
plaster to system slurry over masonry face
There are clear weatherproofing options
systems to provide bonding layer
available, but these must be consented as
an Alternative Solution. Always consult the EIFS 40–60 mm Varies according System plaster base coat Yes
manufacturer and confirm the ability of the (according to to system or proprietary adhesive
polystyrene to fix polystyrene to the
coating to meet the performance requirements
sheet masonry or mechanical
of the New Zealand Building Code, in particular thickness) fixings
for durability and weatherproofing.

BUILD 118 June/July 2010 25


Proprietary uPVC trims are installed to openings Before windows and doors are installed, a
and the bottom edge of the EIFS system should weatherproofing system must be applied
finish 50 mm below the lowest mortar course. around all openings and critical junctions in the
A proprietary, reinforced, modified-cement blockwork (see Figure 1).
plaster coat, typically 4–7 mm thick, is applied Coatings may include:
to the polystyrene sheet. Plastering should be ❚❚ alkali-resistant, water-based dispersion
carried out within 3 weeks of the polystyrene coatings
rebated jamb
installation and any surface contamination ❚❚ bitumen emulsions
including oxidation that has occurred must be ❚❚ proprietary cementitious waterproof coatings.
removed before applying the plaster. As with Their compatibility with other coatings and
other plastering systems, the plaster coat must applied
finishes must be confirmed, as it is essential
be finished with a waterproof coating such as weatherproof that subsequent coatings will adhere to the
system
acrylic paint. prepared opening – this applies in particular
An EIFS system provides thermal insulation with the bitumen-based waterproofing systems.
to the concrete block construction, which also Cementitious weatherproof coatings must have
provides thermal mass for heat storage to the concrete masonry their performance verified before use.
sill block
building interior. Application is typically by brush, roller or
Figure 1: Weatherproofing membrane to opening. spraying in three coats to provide a thickness
Surface preparation between 180–250 microns. Before applying the
Before plastering, installing an EIFS system or waterproof membrane, the concrete must again
simply painting concrete block walls, the masonry Weatherproofing around openings be free of dirt and other contaminants, and the
must have a moisture content of no more Preparation of all openings is needed in addition moisture content should be below 70% relative
than 70% relative humidity and be clean and to applying the weatherproofing coating to humidity.
free of loose material, dirt and efflorescence. the external face of concrete blockwork.

26 BUILD 118 June/July 2010