Why You Should Protect Your Parking Structure Right Now…
There’s a common misunderstanding that waterproofing and maintenance of concrete parking structures is an option, rather than a necessity. In far too many cases, owners are choosing to do little or nothing to protect their sizable investment in these structures; anticipating that because it’s made out of concrete it will just last a long time.
Unfortunately, taking this path increases the likelihood these owners will experience sizable financial pain in the form of: structural damage repairs, increased maintenance costs, and disruption of business while the issues are fixed. This is in addition to having to ultimately pay to waterproof the parking structure anyway. It is the epitome of the phrase ‘pay me now, or pay me later’.
Concrete can be subjected to fuel and oil spills, abrasion damage from the car tires, and high traffic from people and shopping carts, among other things.
In this article, we will explain some of the reasons why it’s vital for you to protect your concrete structure from the elements; and also outline the reasons why you should use a waterproofing technology that only needs to be applied once … that’s right, just once. At the very top of the list of waterproofing types you should consider are systems using modified silicate gel technology - a long-term, integral type of waterproofing that does not just coat the surface of the concrete, but operates inside the concrete matrix itself.
Parking Structures Require Added Protection
For ‘above-grade’ parking structures, the main objective of the waterproofing system is to prevent rain, snow and ice from damaging the concrete slab and walls that make up the top level, the lower levels, and the traffic ramps. It must also prevent the accelerated deterioration of the concrete that’s caused by the use of de-icing agents and salts during the winters. (Note: an added benefit can be gained, if you select a waterproofing system that won’t be scraped off by snow plows shortly after you apply it.)
For ‘below-grade’ car parks, the primary objective is to prevent groundwater from entering through the concrete into the car park structure, as well as protecting the concrete slabs from damage caused by road salt and other de-icing agents.
In both kinds of parking structures, the concrete can be subjected to fuel and oil spills, abrasion damage from the car tires, and high traffic from people and shopping carts, among other things. That’s why owners of parking structures should look for a waterproofing solution that provides excellent long-term protection over a wide range of conditions, including: heavy traffic, all temperatures and humidity, and chemical/salt exposure.
Because waterproofing systems using modified gel technology ensure these critically essential functions, an increasing number of parking owners are relying on it for their projects.
About this Solution - Modified Silicate Gel
These waterproofing systems utilize spray-applied liquids that penetrate the surface of the concrete, using water as a transport mechanism. The products then chemically react with calcium inside the concrete slab, to form an impermeable waterproofing gel ½” – ¾” below the surface. Proper cleaning and surface preparation are necessary to ensure that the system is properly installed.
The most unique feature of these waterproofing systems, is their ability to not only seal existing cracks in structural concrete, but to also seal ‘future cracks’ that haven’t even occurred yet. The ability for the concrete matrix to continually heal itself provides waterproofing protection for the design life of the structure. This modified silicate gel technology is well-proven in the field, having been used on projects in many countries around the world over the past 40+ years.
What are the Physical Properties of the Product?
These products are clear and colorless and DO NOT change the exterior appearance of the concrete surface. In addition to filling and blocking the microcracks and voids inherent in the existing concrete, it will also react to the intrusion of water through any ‘new cracks’ as they occur, by forming more gel to seal those cracks. In effect, it’s a permanent waterproofing solution. The result is an integral waterproofing system, that cannot be damaged and that effectively blocks water penetration for the life of the structure.
Among the physical characteristics that make this technology so attractive is that it’s vapor permeable, so it does not trap moisture in the concrete. It’s a densifier, which will make the driving surfaces considerably more durable. These products have passed the NSF-61 test standards for water potability, and there are no VOCs which makes these systems environmentally friendly. Very good chemical resistance ratings, combined with extremely high hydrostatic pressure ratings make them good choice to use on water tanks and containment vessels, dams, tunnels, etc. The gel technology also performs very well on structures that experience frequent freeze-thaw cycles, as well as other types of building movement.
Fast Application – an Attractive Feature
for Parking Owners to Use the Gel Technology Product
Most owners don’t have the luxury of shutting down portions of their parking structures for extended periods of time, so that waterproofing can be applied. However, with all of the different types of waterproofing products on the market today, it can be confusing to know which one will provide the right combination of superior long-term protection, good value for your money, and limited down time for application. Modified silicate gel systems check all of those boxes, while really shining when you consider lifecycle cost (what the waterproofing will cost over the entire life span of the structure).
Using spray-applied products based on modified silicate gel technology, contractors can cover well in excess of 15,000+ square feet per hour (or 60,000+ square feet per day). In addition to fast application rates, these products are easy to apply, requiring only basic spray equipment.
The gel products are applied using a simple spray system and completely absorb into the concrete, leaving the surface of the concrete unchanged. This can be a critical factor in projects where maintaining ‘the look’ of a structure is important (historical structures, restorations, highly visible structures, etc.).
Following completion of the waterproofing system, the surface of the concrete can be painted or coated if the owner so desires; however, any material that impedes the penetration of water into the concrete will also prevent the latent chemicals in waterproofing system from reacting and blocking any new cracks that form over time. These systems do not affect the ‘slip resistance’ of the concrete surface either way, and are capable of bridging cracks up to 2.0 mm wide.
If you own a parking structure that’s not properly protected, you should consider looking into one of these elite waterproofing systems right now. Every day you wait shortens the potential life span of your investment.
Mario Baggio is CEO of Alchemco. He can be reached at email@example.com