Waterproofing Facades of Heritage Listed Buildings

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What comes to your mind when you hear the term ‘Heritage Listed’?  Usually it’s a building of a period closer to 100 years old and represents the design of the time when it was built. The local council sees it as historical and legally protects the outside from being changed. As any


homeowner knows, buildings that are older generally have a lot more issues with water. So how do you go about waterproofing a heritage listed building, if you can not change the look?

First, let’s have a look at different facades.


The term “facade” originates from the Italian word “facciata,” and it refers to the exterior of any building or any of the sides on the exterior of the structure. It is common practice to limit the usage of the phrase to only the front of a building.

Together with the building’s roof, it is among the most significant aspects of any building because it serves as the major barrier against exterior weather factors that might affect the integrity of the structure. This includes rainwater, snowfall, wind, frost, sunshine, and so forth.

What are the Different Types of facades?

There are two kinds of facades:

  • lightweight facades
  • heavyweight facades

Lightweight Facade

This is a sort of facade that is attached to the structure, but it does not become a component of the structure itself. Basically it’s like a rain jacket you put on, it covers the structure of your body in an appealing way and protects it from the rain, but it doesn’t carry you. A lightweight facade covers the building making it water tight and covers the structure of the building but does not add to the structure. It basically makes the building water tight and attractive.  It is strong enough to protect the building from the elements that exert stress all over its parts, to compensate for the fact that it doesn’t assist in any way to the building’s overall stability.

Glass, as well as metal, are two common examples of materials that are utilized in this cladding process where it is attached to some sort of frame.

Curtain walls and panel facades which are continuous materials that do not have breaks at each level are also widely used for lightweight facades.

The simplicity of the installation process and the volume of natural light that is permitted within the structure are two unique benefits that are offered by the lightweight facade solution.

Lightweight facades, in comparison to other kinds of facades, offer less heat or sound insulation, resulting in greater expenses of upkeep in the long run and over time.

Heavyweight Facade

As the name suggests, this sort of facade is often composed of heavy building materials. For a facade to be deemed heavyweight, the mean weight, considering solid as well as hollow parts, must be more than 220 lbs. per square metre.

Inside this category, one can see many kinds of facades that, according to the insulation requirements, could be load-bearing or even self-supporting, and might or might not feature an air chamber.

Types of heavyweight facades:

  • Prefabricated
  • Traditional
  • ETI systems
  • Rain screen cladding

Ageing Facades

These facades are beautiful and waterproof when they are built, but over time, what happens to building materials when they age? They allow water in, but with the facade made from long-lasting materials it still looks great. What can be done without going through major works and expenses?

Clear Waterproofing Membrane can be applied to the external facade by rope abseilers to make the surface waterproof.

Waterproofing Heritage Buildings

How does one go about waterproofing a structure that was constructed so long ago that it would be officially listed as historical Heritage Listing? Regardless how fanciful it may be, the current look must be preserved in its current state.

That was the problem that needed to be solved at the Railway House,  on 11–31 York street in Sydney, Australia.


The Railway House

The Railway House is a twelve-story building build in 1935. It is famous for its appearance in the 2006 film Superman Returns.  But it is more recognized for its role as the location of the well-known Wynyard Station of Sydney. The structure has an art deco style and is made of glazed green terracotta blocks.

Due to the structure’s Heritage Listing, the current owners are required to keep the same appearance that the structure had when it was first build. What can you do if blocks that were erected


over a century ago, begin to show their age, but you aren’t permitted to alter their appearance?

You contact Remedial Membranes and ask them to cover the outside facade of the building with their Clear Waterproofing Membrane. A variety of samples were supplied on the site to check adhesion and compatibility as well as to identify what finish would be preferential between gloss, satin and matte. A matte finish was chosen since it would guarantee that the reflection distracting passing traffic is minimised.

The abseiling company Rope Access & Remedial was awarded the opportunity to perform the implementation of our exceptional Clear Waterproofing Membrane all over the blockwork’s surface, and the copper trimmings along with the windows converge. Rope Access & Remedial managed to win this privilege.

When the proprietor, Harry, was questioned about his experience while dealing with our top-of-the-line Clear Waterproofing Membrane, he responded:

“The Clear Waterproofing Membrane is a highly workable product that we can utilise well, working on facades via rope access methods. Not runny or prone to drips at heights like sealer or some paints.” Harry has since become an Accredited Installer of Remedial Membranes‘ products and continues to use the Clear Waterproofing Membrane on other facades.

This is not the first time Clear Waterproofing Membrane has been applied to a facade of a building. When Discovery Primea in the Philippines was damaged by an earthquake


and showed water ingress, the Remedial Membranes was called in.

What makes penetrating sealers different from the Clear Waterproofing Membrane, which is also used for waterproofing?

Sealers penetrate the structure’s surface, but are not designed to waterproof or create a continuous film over the surface. That means water will still be able to enter and gets absorbed into the structure. Our Clear Waterproofing Membrane is a full seal that goes across the surface’s top layer to stop the water from gaining access to the structure. The technique that is needed for application may vary, based on the surface material. And it will also influence how this waterproofing membrane is applied.

Only two coats are required to be applied to the glazed green terracotta block but to ensure the film thickness was achieved Harry’s team applied 3 thinner coats instead of 2 thicker coats as they felt this was the best way to ensure good coverage was achieved and their customers best interest were top of their priority.


What about concrete facades, which are very porous?


You will notice that when sealers are applied to concrete facades they have very little effect on preventing water migration even after 5 coats or more. This is because concrete is so porous that sealers suck in so quickly that what originally looked great now is covered in holes large and small, some even as small as pin pricks and this allows water through.

When water gets into concrete facades although it has little impact on the concrete itself it comes into contact with reo which is used in concrete for strength. Reo is designed to rust to protect the steel itself but when this combination occurs in concrete it creates concrete blowouts which can be dangerous.

How can Clear waterproofing Membrane assist with waterproofing concrete?

If you want anything to be waterproof, you have to waterproof it! You can’t just attempt to acquire a sealer, or grout and hope that it waterproofs. They are completely different types of materials and do different things.

Because the Clear Waterproofing Membrane is transparent, it allows materials to keep the same appearance they already have while still being waterproof. This provides the perfect solution for concrete structures to prevent water seeping through and rusting the steel, as the Clear Waterproofing Membrane is made to be Clear.

The appearance of the concrete is unaffected, however, the Clear Waterproofing Membrane prevents water from entering the structure. This eliminates concrete blowouts, which are caused by the rusting of steel reinforcements hidden beneath concrete façades.

Clear Waterproofing Membrane is happy to discuss waterproofing facades of buildings affected my age or environment without changing the look. Get in touch if you have a problem and wish to see if Clear Waterproofing Membrane is the answer to your leaky facade.