Can Homeowners Waterproof Their Bathrooms?

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Bathroom waterproofing is the most important part of a bathroom as it provides the integrity needed to ensure that water doesn’t leak into other parts of the home. An incorrectly waterproofed bathroom or wet area can quickly cause problems that are at best inconvenient and structurally damaging.

Every bathroom is different, and so, therefore, a bathroom waterproofing job must be carefully evaluated and attention given to the smallest details. A poor waterproofing membrane can result in leaking showers internally and leaking balconies externally, resulting in costly repairs. For most leaking showers and water issues, we are called to inspect the result from poor or failing waterproofing.

When you’re renovating your bathroom, one thing you can’t afford to do is have your bathroom professionally waterproofed. If water finds a way in, the structural damage is almost sure to occur. That will cost far more than the cost of the waterproofing. Here’s what you need to know before you begin. Planning for a new look for your house? Look no further!  MJS Construction Group  is here to help in your home builders.

Bathroom waterproofing is so important. It is mandated by law and must comply with National Building and standards. The basic requirements are that:

  • Shower enclosure floors must be thoroughly waterproofed.
  • Shower enclosure walls should be waterproofed to 1.8 metres.
  • Bathroom walls should be waterproofed to a height of 150mm.
  • If the bathroom floor contains timber or is on the 2nd floor or higher, it must be thoroughly waterproofed.
  • The area over the shower enclosure step and down to the floor must be waterproofed.

The waterproofing process is carried out in two stages. First, a coat of sealant is applied horizontally. When this coat cures, the waterproofer returns and applies a second coat vertically to ensure a tight seal.

Bathroom waterproofing is done before tiles are laid. In many cases, your bathroom renovator or tiler will include waterproofing in their quote. If waterproofing is part of their service, make sure they hold a valid waterproofer’s license if needed and issue a certificate of compliance upon completion of the job.

As a rule, professional waterproofing costs around $500 to $650 for an average bathroom. If the waterproofing is done in more than one bathroom or as part of a complete bathroom renovation, the cost may be a little lower. In some cases, such as large bathrooms, wet rooms or second storey bathrooms, the cost of waterproofing may be higher. To get the best price and the best service, get competitive quotes from several services and ask each of them to provide you with all the details about the scope of their service in their quotes.

*Cost and prices in this article are indicative and should only be used as a guide. They also vary locally and are subject to market forces.

Whether it’s a renovation or new construction, waterproofing is necessary for any bathroom or wet area. Here you will find a short explanation of waterproofing your shower area and bathroom in 10 simple steps.

5 Reasons You Should Have Your Bathroom Waterproofed

can homeowners waterproof their bathrooms

Having your bathroom waterproofed is one of the most important aspects of a home improvement project. That’s because waterproofing not only protects structures against damage but also eliminates possible health concerns.

Top Reasons to Waterproof Your Bathroom

Washing and bathing produce a lot of water vapour in bathrooms. Made from porous materials, bathroom walls absorb the vapour, retaining it for a long time. Inside the walls, the vapour erodes materials and causes cracks that let in more moisture, which creates hydrostatic pressure and leads to extensive damage. One simple way to avoid severe structural damage and costly repairs is to waterproof your bathroom.

Defined as the process of applying waterproofing materials and systems that prevent water from passing through walls, waterproofing is highly recommended to avoid water damage in the first place and address the source of many problems, which range from water ingress, mould growth and early paint failure to rotten wood and the corrosion of metal structures.

Although under Building Code, Section 1807, waterproofing is required to extend the functional lifespan of buildings, improve living conditions, and reduce maintenance costs, here are the top five reasons you should have your bathroom waterproofed. 

  • Structural damage – Almost anyone who knows that the buildings in this area are exposed to high humidity levels. Moisture in the atmosphere may damage an entire building. Still, its detrimental effects can be seen especially in areas with poor ventilation, such as inside corners, joints where walls and ceilings meet, etc., or in areas where a combination of high interior humidity and high moisture content in walls is present (e.g. bathroom walls). Although it takes a long time until moisture-related problems become visible, they can cause considerable damage if ignored.
  • Condensation – Condensation within walls may lead to paint discolouration, mould growth, and wood decay. Additionally, excess moisture accumulating inside walls facilitates heat transfer, resulting in heat loss and higher energy bills. 

Your bathroom can also travel a long distance to adjacent rooms, affecting indoor air quality and causing serious mould problems. The easiest way to prevent condensation inside walls is to have your bathroom waterproofed by a specialist.

  • Infestation – Many pests and microorganisms such as dry rot and mould thrive in damp areas, causing various health concerns. To avoid infestations, you should have your bathroom waterproofed if walls or parts of walls tend to stay damp for a long time. Since pests, along with mould and wood-decay fungi, can live in walls long before they become visible, it’s essential to take action as soon as you see the first warning signs if you want to prevent a severe infestation.
  • Maintenance costs – High moisture content within walls can lead to cracking, blistering, and peeling paint, rotten wood, and severe mould infestations that may require the assistance of a professional. All these will increase maintenance costs considerably. Waterproofing, on the other hand, prevents moisture from penetrating the walls, saving homeowners thousands of dollars in future repairs.
  • Increase the value of your home – Whether you plan to sell your home or live in it for the rest of your life, keeping it in tip-top shape will help increase its value and improve your chances of getting a loan, if ever needed.

At Performance Painting, our professionals combine their extensive knowledge and experience in waterproofing with advanced techniques and the best materials to provide our clients with an unbeatable waterproofing solution. Contact us today, and we can help you make moisture problems a thing of the past.  

Different types of waterproofing

Waterproofing membrane products come in a variety of different styles. Some are rubber sheets that are rolled out and attached to the surface, while others come in liquid form and are applied with a brush or roller. The most popular kind used in bathrooms today is a liquid membrane, which has the advantage of being highly flexible and relatively easy to install.

The CSIRO has developed a classification system for membranes based on their ability to stretch before breaking. The classifications are:

  • Class 1 – stretches to a length 65% more than its original length. Examples include fibreglass, metal and water-based epoxies.
  • Class 2 – stretches between 65% and 200% more than its original length. Examples include acrylic membranes and bitumen based membranes.
  • Class 3 – stretches over 200% more than its original length. Examples include water-based polyurethane, solvent-based polyurethane, sheet rubber, and PVC sheet membranes.

10 Tips for Waterproofing Your Bathroom

Water is the biggest villain to structural integrity, and nowhere is this more true than in a bathroom, where moisture is a constant factor. There is a reason why bathrooms and kitchens get remodelled more often than any other rooms in the house: Even a small infiltration of water below the walls, countertops, and flooring surfaces quickly destroys the installation.

An efficient, complete moisture protection system is the cornerstone of any successful, long-lasting bathroom remodel project. The waterproofing quality can spell the difference between a bathroom that looks great and functions efficiently for years and one that immediately begins to decay and falls victim to mould and mildew.

Here are ten tips for planning and executing a bathroom remodel that resists the effects of moisture.

Use Waterproof Building Materials

While building materials made from organic, plant-based materials like wood, bamboo, paper, or jute can be great choices for most house areas, that’s not true in areas that see lots of moisture, such as a bathroom. In bathrooms, inorganic materials such as stone, metal, plastic, and ceramic or porcelain tile are better choices because they aren’t affected by moisture. These materials tend to resist mould and mildew better than organic materials, and moisture doesn’t cause them to decay and rot.

For example, you may want to use PVC baseboards instead of MDF or solid wood baseboards. Clay-based porcelain and ceramic tile work well for walls and floors. Pay particular attention to the materials used for countertops. Solid-surface material, quartz (synthetic stone), or natural stone are better choices for bathroom countertops. Even plastic laminate countertops have an MDF core that can be affected by the prevalent moisture in a bathroom.

If you are tiling a shower or tub surround, make sure the backer board is a high-quality waterproof material sealed properly. The same waterproof backer board is a good choice for tiled floors. For non-tiled walls, use a special wallboard that has waterproof facing rather than the organic paper-facing found in standard wallboard.

In other words, always opt for building materials that resist moisture when planning or remodelling a bathroom. Your bathroom will hold up much longer and require less maintenance if you do. Check out our range of Melbourne townhouse builders for your dream house.

Hire a Pro for the Plumbing

Even the tiniest hidden mistake with plumbing pipe installation can lead to thousands of dollars of damage. While modern materials such as PEX tubing make it easier for DIYers to do their work, this is not an area where you want to take any chances. Unless you are 100 per cent confident of your skills, strongly consider having a professional come in to do the plumbing rough-in work. Even if you complete all other tasks in the bathroom remodel, it will give you an extra measure of confidence to know that a pro knowledgeable of all code requirements has done the plumbing work.

Once the plumbing rough-in is done, most DIYers will find it easy enough to make the final connections of the plumbing fixtures.

Provide Access to the Plumbing

While not mandatory, it is always helpful to provide access to the bathtub or shower plumbing from the rear via a service panel. If the room on the other side permits, an opening can be created in the wall to allow the water supply lines to be observed and repaired from the back. It is far easier to work on plumbing this way than ripping out the tile from the front.

Install an Exhaust Fan

Install a high-capacity bathroom exhaust fan as one method of expelling moisture-laden air from the room. By building code, bathroom fans must expel a minimum of 50 cubic feet per minute (CFM) intermittently and 20 CFM continuous, but you may want a more powerful fan if the bathroom is large.

Some exhaust fans are also equipped with infrared heat bulbs that can aid in burning off moisture in a bathroom. Or, you can install a standalone heater to help with moisture.

Use Tile as a Wall Surface

Walls covered with ceramic or porcelain tiles will be nearly impervious to the effects of water. These tiles have long been used for shower and bathtub surround walls, but modern bathrooms often use them as a surface material for wainscoting, backsplashes, or entire walls.

Install a Waterproof Floor

The choice of flooring is critical in a bathroom, where some of the standard organic choices—hardwood, engineered wood, and bamboo—don’t perform very well, especially in heavy-use family baths. Plastic laminate flooring might seem like a good choice, but it is usually constructed with a core layer made from wood byproducts and thus can easily be compromised by water.

A classic choice for bathrooms is ceramic and porcelain tile, which is now available in styles that can be surprisingly effective at mimicking wood planks and other materials. Another good choice is luxury vinyl planks and tiles. This form of vinyl is made from solid inorganic material through and through, so it is utterly waterproof. And luxury vinyl is available in styles that convincingly look like wood, stone, or ceramics.

In addition to choosing a fully waterproof flooring material, ensure the installation is as watertight as possible to ensure that moisture doesn’t penetrate through the flooring to the vulnerable subfloor and underlayment.

Focus on the Baseboard System

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Pay particular attention to the baseboards—the junction between the bathroom floor and the walls. Tight-fitting baseboards caulked at the top and bottom will do wonders for keeping water from seeping into walls and subfloors.

Where possible, use materials other than wood for the baseboard mouldings. Synthetic PVC mouldings can convincingly mimic the look of wood baseboards, or a flexible thermoplastic vinyl wall base helps form a tight seal without the need for caulking. Ceramic tile trim mouldings, caulked at the top and bottom, can create fully impervious joints where walls meet the floor.

Caulk All Cracks and Holes

Silicone-based bathroom-grade caulk is indispensable with any bathroom remodel. Use it to seal virtually all cracks and holes between surfaces, such as between walls and floors, where countertops meet walls, where plumbing fixtures meet floors and countertops, especially on all seams in a shower or around a tub.

Good caulking technique is a learned skill, but it can make all the difference in ensuring that your bathroom resists the effects of water.

Make Sure the Shower or Tub Is Watertight

When water damage occurs in a bathroom, the culprit is often the tub or shower, so pay special attention when remodelling to ensure it is as waterproof as possible. This is one area where you may want to invest in professional installation, especially if installing a custom tile shower and shower pan. Pros use special waterproof backer boards or membranes behind the tile to ensure moisture can’t seep into wall cavities. If you decide to tile your shower, do your research and make sure you are confident of your skills.

Another option is to use the fabricated shower, or tub surround panels, where the only things you have to worry about are in the corners. Tub and shower surrounds are generally much cheaper than custom tile work and almost always easier for DIYers to install.

Caulked seams in a shower or tub should be inspected annually and recaulked when necessary. Finding the right duplex build  is an important decision. Check out our range of the best home design constructions at Hitch Property Constructions.

Use High-Gloss Paint

Flat or matte sheen interior paint on the bathroom walls tends to streak and stain. Use glossier paints to ward off the inevitable splashes from the bathing facilities and condensation. Satin, eggshell, and semi-gloss paints are favourites for their ease of application and durability in a bathroom.

Maintaining a waterproof bathroom is not a one-and-done event. After the remodel, keep your bathroom in good condition by managing moisture with these regular practices:

  • Using bath mats
  • Keeping cracks caulked
  • Sealing tile seams
  • Using tightly fitting shower curtains
  • They are mopping up spilled water immediately.
  • Painting walls regularly
  • Fixing gaps in the flooring
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