Is Basement Waterproofing Paint Effective?

waterproofing paint

If you have a leaky basement, you’ve probably made quite a few trips to your local home improvement store in search of a solution. And there in the paint isle you came across waterproofing paint. You recall reading something positive about it in a forum, so it must be worth trying, right? Sorry, but 9 times out of 10 this won’t help with your problem. Let our Baltimore waterproofing experts explain why.

What is Basement Waterproofing Paint?

Any type of waterproofing paint is just that—paint! The only thing different about it is that it’s thicker than your regular wall paint and doesn’t allow moisture to go through. Waterproofing paint is specifically designed to be used on the interior of concrete and masonry structures, such as garages and basements. In order to fully cover these porous surfaces, you may have to work the first coat in with a brush and then roll 1-2 additional coats. This can be a rather tedious process, especially if you have a large space to work with.

Why Waterproofing Paints Don’t Work

Don’t get us wrong, there are situations when waterproofing paint can make a noticeable difference in your basement in terms of how dry it feels and how good it looks. However, many homeowners use waterproofing paint as an all-in-one solution for their basement leaks, and that’s not how this paint works. In fact, sometimes you can do more harm than good by applying waterproofing paint under the wrong circumstances.

Consider this. The moisture in your basement comes from the outside and seeps through your porous concrete walls. Sealing the interior walls with waterproofing paint will stop the moisture from entering the basement and evaporating into the air. However, it won’t stop it from coming in from the outside. Moisture will keep accumulating inside the concrete and may eventually cause the paint to bubble and peel. In some cases, the moisture may get pushed up until it finds wood or other porous surfaces it can penetrate, which may lead to rot in your main floor joists.

In short, if you don’t fix the entry point of the moisture first, waterproofing paint won’t do you any good.

Waterproofing Paint vs. Waterproofing Coatings

Besides the interior waterproofing paint, you may have also come across waterproofing coatings. These are coatings applied (often sprayed) to the outside of the foundation. Nowadays they come standard on most newly built homes, but if you own an older home, it’s possible no coatings were applied or they deteriorated with age.

Modern waterproofing coatings are based on polymers instead of asphalt and tar like in the old days. This polymer composition makes coatings more durable and allows them to stand up better to the soil pH and changing outside temperatures. Polymer coatings are often applied after a process called parging, which helps make sure the foundation walls are free of cracks, voids and are level. These methods will actually fix your basement problem and you may not need any interior paints after that.

What to Do About Stains and Mold

Some homeowners prefer not to finish basement walls. But this doesn’t mean that the walls can’t be made more attractive. If you inherited a messy, moldy or stained basement from the previous homeowner, there are a few products you could use to make it look cleaner and neater. Try a mold-resistant paint or a stain-block primer for the walls. Both should allow the walls to breathe, give them a nice, even color and inhibit any future mold growth.

Have other questions about interior or exterior basement wall coatings? Give our Maryland basement waterproofing experts a call!