Why Balcony Waterproofing is Important

When it comes to home maintenance, the balcony can often be overlooked. However, ensuring your balcony is properly waterproofed is more important than you may think. Balconies present a few unique structural challenges. They are generally outside and exposed to the elements, while also often being highly elevated. This means that appropriate drainage and waterproofing are vital to provide long-term protection to the exposed materials and support structure.

In the case of wood-framed balconies this is even more important. Balconies with significant timber structures are even more susceptible to water damage, including structural damage from rot and pest damage (the risk of which can be increased if there is moisture present in the timber).

For concrete balconies, while less susceptible to moisture damage, waterproofing is still essential. Concrete is a porous material that over time can be subject to serious water damage. As moisture seeps into the concrete, it can lead to cracks opening up, as well as the growth of mould and mildew. The presence of moisture in the concrete can also exacerbate UV damage if your balcony is exposed to extended periods of direct sunlight.

To prevent these and other issues, professional waterproofing is vital and must be installed by qualified professionals in line with the applicable Australian Standards. Let’s find what balcony waterproofing can help to prevent.

Danger to occupants

Water damage can significantly weaken the structural elements of the balcony. Over time, this can mean that the balcony poses a major risk to the occupants. In extreme cases of water damage, the support structure can weaken and even collapse. Moisture can also weaken the underfloor structure as well as the rails, balustrades and fixings. A failure of any one of these elements could lead to serious injury or even death in the case of balcony collapse or falls.

Exposure to the elements

As an outdoor structure, your balcony is exposed to the elements day and night. Rain and moisture can seep into the flooring and structural elements, doing serious damage over time. If the balcony drainage isn’t appropriate, water can pool on the surface, which can speed up the water damage leading to serious and costly problems. Additionally, a build up of moisture can increase the risk of UV damage to surface materials and structural elements.

Surface cracking and stains

Concrete is a commonly used material for balconies. While incredibly strong and durable, unsealed concrete is prone to cracking due to moisture. The cracking can start very small, but these cracks will widen as more water seeps in and the concrete swells. Surface cracking is not just unsightly, it’s a problem that will get worse over time, leading to serious damage and costly repairs.

Tiled balconies can also be prone to moisture cracks and staining, especially in the grouting.

Prevent structural weakness

Over time, seepage can penetrate into the floor surface, cracking and weakening the concrete and corroding the steel reinforcements within the concrete. Damage to the concrete and its reinforcement can dramatically weaken the structure and reduce its load-bearing capacity.

In the case of timber balconies, moisture damage can get into the timber supports leading to rot and a significant weakening of the structure.

Professional waterproofing will ensure that the structure elements of the balcony are protected from seepage and water damage, ensuring that there is no progressive weakening of the structure over time.

Prevent leaks and seepage into other structures (mould and mildew)

Leaking Balcony Repairs

Moisture in the balcony concrete and steel supports can gradually seep beyond the balcony and into the inner walls and underfloor areas inside the property. This can start causing water damage to inside areas, and the moisture can also lead to the growth of mould and mildew, which can be a significant health risk, as well as a structural risk. While leaking balcony repairs may address the leaks, waterproofing will protect the structure from any leaks.

High cost of repairs

Water damage is generally difficult and costly to repair, especially once it has affected the structural elements. Additionally, for balconies in high-rise buildings, the repair costs can be substantial if it involves working from heights.

While replacing or repairing waterproofing can also be time consuming and costly, it is significantly faster and cheaper than repairing major moisture damage.

Insurance problems

In some cases, your insurance coverage for water damage may depend on your waterproof membrane. A failed membrane or the complete absence of a waterproof membrane could mean that you have to bear the costs associated with any water damage.

Maintain property value

If you’re looking to sell your property, any issues with the waterproofing could show up during the due diligence phase. Since waterproofing is costly and complex to retroactively install, problems with waterproofing could put off potential buyers or give the leverage to negotiate a lower price.

When it comes to waterproofing, you can’t afford to take any chances. Ignoring the issues can lead to serious safety concerns and major repair bills down the road.

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Youssef Ibrahim Jawad

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