Foundation Protection Solutions. Step 1: Ditch the Sprays

dimpled membrane DELTA-MS wall waterproofing concrete ICF walls

When it comes to foundation protection and wall waterproofing, some builders only factor in code compliance. They simply spray a tar/asphalt coating on the concrete foundation and proceed with backfilling.

Problem is, this approach is short-sighted, leading to spray-on foundation protection issues. Easily damaged spray-on coatings may create vulnerabilities on numerous levels, including moisture leading to mold and air quality problems, potential liability concerns requiring expensive remedies, and even harm to a builder’s reputation. Dr. Joe Lstiburek explains how to protect below-grade living spaces in full detail in this webinar.

Backfilling Hazards

In “Building Envelope Design Guide – Foundation Walls,” the author warns that “the best design intentions in selecting and detailing waterproofing systems can be undermined by damage from construction.” The article appeared in the Whole Building Design Guide, a program of the National Institute of Building Sciences.

The same article states that, “Caution is advised with use over liquid-applied materials as the drainage layer may dig into and breach the membrane.”   Other challenges may appear as well. For example, if a heavy bulldozer is operated parallel to the foundation, the radically increased ground pressure can force rocks and other debris into the foundation coating, puncturing or otherwise damaging it.

Settling Around the Foundation

Even when backfilling is done to perfection, spray-on coatings are still vulnerable long-term.  As the foundation settles, it can lead to cracks in coating, creating areas of significant vulnerability. At many construction sites, there’s a decision to be made about the type of backfill to be used. Contractors and other decision-makers have to determine whether existing soil at the site is appropriate for use in backfilling. Sometimes, excessive organic content will lead to excessive settling as this material decomposes over time.

Gravel and stone usually provide ready solutions. These materials provide drainage that minimizes long-term moisture and settling issues.  However, the added expense of the gravel or stone and the cost of transportation are often deterrents. It can also be difficult to ensure that these materials remain in place.

A wet, leaky basement is undesirable for many reasons.

  1. Occupant comfort suffers
  2. Mold or mildew may cause expensive damage and compromise health
  3. Corrections to a faulty foundation coating are often expensive for the contractor
  4. Finally, the builder’s reputation may take a hit when moisture makes an unwanted appearance

A Solution to the Problems with Spray-on Waterproofing

Since spray-on compounds are at risk for puncturing or cracking during backfilling or due to settling, a solid air-gap membrane is an attractive alternative. It is substantially less prone to the problems presented by spray-on foundation coatings.

DELTA®-MS is an effective alternative to spray-on foundation coatings. Its strong, dimpled membrane maintains an air gap that keeps moisture away from the foundation. The membrane itself is impermeable to both water vapor and liquid water. As a result, it maintains a complete capillary break between ground moisture and the foundation walls. The innovative high compression design offers reliable protection to foundation walls as deep as 12-ft below grade.

Unlike sprayed-on coatings,  DELTA®-MS successfully bridges big cracks and other imperfections in foundation walls that may later appear when settling occurs. When desired, DELTA®-MS can also be deployed as a layer of protection over both sheet-applied and sprayed-on systems.

The design of DELTA®-MS also addresses the long-term possibility of minor moisture intrusion. Should any small quantity of water ever get past the membrane, it readily flows to the perimeter footing drain. DELTA®-MS is part of the comprehensive DELTA®  Premium Moisture Protection System that keeps ground moisture away from the basement. With DELTA®-MS and associated products, a dry basement is a more realistic goal than ever.

DELTA®-MS is part of the Dörken Systems family of wall waterproofing, dampproofing, and water-resistive building products that help contractors, architects, and designers meet and exceed rigorous codes and demanding green building standards and requirements.

Get Dr. Joe’s full webinar here.

Dörken Systems delivers innovative, high-performance air and moisture barriers for commercial and residential construction sold under the DELTA® brand name. A North American manufacturer based out of Beamsville, Ontario, Dörken Systems Inc. is a subsidiary of Ewald Dörken AG, a leading European developer and manufacturer of waterproofing and drainage products sold worldwide. Dörken is known for delivering premium products while providing educational programs and full technical support. For more information, call 1-888-433-5824 or visit