What Is the Tar They Use to Waterproof Basements?

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Homeowners must take steps to avoid moisture damage in damp areas such as basements. Waterproofing your basement is often done with asphalt-based tar applied to exterior walls to prevent water vapor from seeping through. Applying materials to protect your home from moisture damage is key to preventing mold growth and costly repairs.

Types

Asphalt-based tar is often used to damproof basement walls. Tar is painted on the walls to keep water vapor from moving in and out of the walls. However, asphalt-based tar isn't a true waterproofing material. Applying tar to your basement walls provides a damproof coating instead of waterproofing. There are a variety of waterproofing materials that act as membranes that can be sprayed or installed in sheets. Waterproofing materials are typically made from polyurethane, asphalt or rubber.

Advantages/Disadvantages

Asphalt-based tar is typically less expensive than other waterproofing materials. Most home owners can apply these products themselves with ease. However, there are some disadvantages to using tar on your basement walls. Asphalt-based tars become dry and brittle over time. Water can also erode tar, making it less effective. True waterproofing materials retard moisture for longer periods of time and seal gaps where moisture may seep through into your home.

Benefits

Applying materials to waterproof your home will keep the interior humidity down. Waterproofing keeps water from seeping inside your home and causing damage that will require replacement of drywall and wood. According to the Center for Disease Control, applying waterproofing materials to exterior basement walls either with tar or other compounds is necessary when moisture is a serious problem.

Considerations

Once you've applied tar or other materials to waterproof your home, take a look around for other problems that could allow moisture to come inside. A poor foundation drainage system is a common cause of water leaks in basements. When downspouts fail to carry water far enough from your home's foundation, water may leak inside and cause damage. If you live in an area prone to flooding, consider installing a sump pump to remove water before it can damage your home.

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