Prevent Damage from Interior Water Leaks and Keep Them Out of Sight and Out of Mind

To commercial and residential building owners, water damage from interior leaks is an out of sight, out of mind problem until they see evidence such as a water spot on a ceiling. For the flooring contractor that failed to seal openings in flooring material around plumbing fixtures, for example, the damage is also out of sight and out of mind—until they hear from an angry building owner with an immediate callback demand.

The costs of such damage are significant. But, as H.B. Fuller Construction Products Product Manager John Anderson explains, they’re easily preventable with use of a TEC® HydraFlex™ liquid-applied waterproofing and crack isolation membrane.

The costs are staggering

A look at the costs of repairing the damage, on both the individual case level and in the aggregate, quickly thrusts this problem into sight and mind, too. Often, insurance will not cover these costs without a policy rider.

The volume of water and time, i.e., how long the leak existed prior to discovery, are major cost variables. The costs tend to multiply over time as physical damage worsens and mold or air quality problems develop.

The flooring contractor will eventually feel the impact of lower profit margins in many ways including callbacks on completed projects, delays in getting new projects started, and reputational damage.

Major advantages over sheet membranes

Using sheet waterproofing membranes is one method for protecting tile substrate against damage from interior water ingress. These membranes consist of plastic or elastomeric sheets that require bonding to the substrate before tile installation occurs. Some sheets have adhesive backing and others require separate adhesives or cement mortar for bonding to the substrate. Their use invariably involves considerable labor, time and cost because the contractor has to handle several components—membrane, preformed corners, bonding mortar, primer and sealant—and cut the sheets to the right size.

Anderson points out that, unlike with sheet membranes, the contractor doesn’t have to use primers or contend with sealing overlapping sheet seams when applying HydraFlex™. The product is composed of liquid rubber emulsion polymers that form a thin, monolithic, flexible, load-bearing, waterproof layer under the tile surface that protects the substrate from positive hydrostatic pressure. The layer cures to a tough, seamless film that resists softening at high temperatures and brittleness at low temperatures.

In its cured state, HydraFlex™ provides high water resistance and low moisture vapor permeability—dramatically increasing the durability and life of any interior or exterior tile installation that’s subject to water exposure and positive hydrostatic pressure. Mold and mildew resistant, HydraFlex™ particularly suits wet installations such as pools, showers, fountains and spas that must withstand repeated exposure to moisture.

Compared to standard liquid-applied waterproofing membranes, though, HydraFlex™ doesn’t merely meet ANSI A118.10, American National Standard Specifications for Load Bearing, Bonded, Waterproof Membranes for Thin-set Ceramic Tile and Dimension Stone Installation—it exceeds the specifications. As a result, HydraFlex™ is a high-performance waterproofing membrane that provides significant additional benefits.

High performance: greater protection and functionality

HydraFlex™ offers contractors and building owners greater protection and functionality than standard liquid-applied waterproofing membranes in the following ways:

  • Applied by roller, trowel or spray, HydraFlex™ offers excellent adhesion to a wide range of surfaces including concrete, masonry, plywood, gypsum, ceramic, steel, existing Vinyl Composition Tile (VCT) and various plastics.
  • Thanks to its high cohesive strength, HydraFlex™ doesn’t require mesh installation during application.
  • It has the highest available wet bonding strength to cement mortar. ANSI A118.10 seven-day water immersion testing reveals a typical difference of roughly 25 percent to 40 percent.
  • The contractor can apply HydraFlex™ over new or ‘green’ concrete—as little as three days old. In contrast, a standard membrane typically needs concrete to be in place for 28 days.
  • Another measure of its fast-track properties is the fact that the contractor can apply HydraFlex™ on concrete with up to 90 percent relative humidity, due to its high alkalinity resistance. The typical concrete RH limit for standard membranes is 75 percent to 85 percent.
  • Also, the product rapidly achieves a fully dry state, as indicated by a dark purple appearance. HydraFlex™ is ready for ASTM D5957, Standard Guide for Flood Testing Horizontal Waterproofing Installations as soon as two hours and up to 12 hours after the second coat dries, depending upon temperature, relative humidity, substrate porosity and air movement. Many standard waterproofing membranes require a minimum of four hours to a maximum of 72 hours of second-coat drying before they can undergo this test.
  • HydraFlex™ is International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO)-approved.
  • The sustainable low-VOC product can earn projects LEED®

High-performance crack isolation, too

With their elongation properties, most waterproofing membranes also provide protection from in-plane cracks telegraphing to the tile as specified in ANSI A118.12. HydraFlex™ outperforms its standard waterproofing membrane peers as a crack isolation membrane, too:

  • With up to 1,000 percent elongation, HydraFlex™ provides up to 60 percent greater elasticity than standard liquid-applied membranes, enabling it to bridge 1/4-inch cracks and saw-cut concrete control joints. In contrast, standard membranes’ crack-bridging capability is limited to 1/8-inch.
  • Although two coats are needed for waterproofing applications, its relatively high elasticity enables HydraFlex™ to isolate 1/4-inch cracks with a single coat at 50 mils wet. By comparison, standard membranes require two coats for 1/8-inch crack isolation. By using less material and time, the contractor saves the owner money.

Strong warranty protection

Its high-performance properties enable HydraFlex™ to offer contractors and building owners longer limited warranties for waterproofing and crack isolation than standard membranes typically offer. HydraFlex™ has a 1/4-inch Crack Isolation System Limited Warranty to back up its 1/4-inch crack bridging capability. In addition, the product has a 10-year limited product warranty, compared to standard membranes’ typical one-year limited product warranty.

Follow installation instructions

Make sure to follow the following steps when applying HydraFlex™ to ensure reliable waterproofing of tile substrates—and prevent costly failures and callbacks:

  • Application surfaces must be free from oil, grease, dust, paint, sealers or curing compounds.
  • Make sure new concrete is finished with a steel trowel and has a fine broom finish prior to membrane application.
  • After substrate preparation, remove all dust by vacuuming, cleaning the surface with a wet sponge and letting it dry before applying the membrane.
  • Apply the waterproofing membrane in two coats at the correct wet thickness, making sure no voids or pinholes develop.

Among our helpful training videos is one on proper HydraFlex™ application techniques.

HydraFlex™ is your best defense against water damage to tile installations. HydraFlex™—backed by the training you need to get the most out of your material and labor—enables you to offer the owner greater protection at a lower cost. This high-performance waterproofing membrane keeps water damage safely out of sight and out of mind.

Contact us for more information

Our Technical Support team is here to help Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. CST. Contact them at 1-800-TEC-9023 (1-800-832-9023) or send your question via our online form.

Posted by
TEC Staff