The Role of Basement Tanking in Basement Conversion Projects

The Role of Basement Tanking in Basement Conversion Projects

8th September, 2023

Basement conversion projects have grown in popularity in recent years, and for good reason. As property owners seek to maximise their living spaces, basement conversions offer the perfect opportunity to do this without extending a property outwards. Converting a basement into a functional living area offers a huge number of benefits, from additional bedrooms and entertainment spaces to increasing the overall property value. However, these conversions come with their unique challenges, with damp being one of the most common concerns. This is why basement tanking can be highly effective, playing a crucial role in ensuring the success and longevity of a conversion. In this guide, we’ll be discussing everything you need to know about basement tanking – read on to find out more.

What is Basement Tanking?

Basement tanking, sometimes referred to as basement waterproofing, is the process of applying various materials, like a coating or membrane, to the interior or exterior of the basement, to prevent water from penetrating the space. It aims to create a barrier between the inside of the basement and the surrounding soil or groundwater, which not only prevents water ingress but also protects the structural integrity of the building and the overall quality of the indoor environment.

Basement tanking solutions can be broadly categorised into two main types: internal tanking and external tanking.

What is Internal Basement Tanking?

Internal tanking involves applying waterproofing materials to the interior surfaces of the basement walls and floors. This approach is commonly used when retrofitting existing basements, especially in older properties, due to the flexibilities available in the materials used – some of the most common materials used for the internal tanking process include:

Cementitious Coatings: These coatings are applied as a mixture of cement and additives that create a waterproof layer when applied to the surfaces. They are highly versatile and can be used on a range of substrates, including concrete and masonry, so they’re suitable for a whole host of different property types.
Cavity Drain Membranes: Cavity drain membranes consist of a studded plastic membrane that is fixed to the walls and floors. The studs create a gap between the membrane and the surface, allowing water to be channelled and managed effectively through drainage systems.
Waterproof Renders and Plasters: For a more specialised approach, renders and plasters are designed to create a waterproof layer that can be applied directly to the walls and floors.

What is the Difference Between Internal and External Tanking?

Basement tanking comes with several benefits that can not only protect your property but also improve your living space:

Preventing Water Damage: Water infiltration is a major concern in basement areas, primarily due to their location. Without effective basement tanking, water can seep through walls and floors, leading to issues like dampness and mould growth. These problems not only compromise the appearance of the space but also pose risks to the health of occupants and the structural integrity of the building.
Protecting Property Investment: A basement conversion project represents a significant investment in terms of time, money, and effort. Implementing proper basement tanking is essential to safeguard this investment, and by preventing water-related issues, you can ensure that your newly converted basement space remains functional and aesthetically appealing for years to come.
Enhancing Liveable Space: Basement conversions are often aimed at increasing the available living space within a property. Whether the basement is transformed into a cosy living room, a home office, or even an additional bedroom, the success of the conversion depends on creating a dry, comfortable environment. Basement tanking plays a pivotal role in achieving this goal, making the space habitable and enjoyable for occupants.
Compliance with Regulations: In the UK, there are many regulations that your basement conversion must meet, and these include adequate waterproofing measures that need to be carried out before the space can be classed as liveable. Using proper basement tanking methods will ensure that your project complies with these regulations, and help you avoid potential legal issues.

What Factors Should I Consider During a Basement Tanking Project?

Given the benefits of a basement conversion, it’s easy to overlook some of the crucial elements of a basement tanking project – here are four of the most important factors to consider:

1) Type of Tanking System: The choice between internal and external tanking depends on several factors, including the existing structure, site conditions, and budget. Internal tanking is often favoured for existing buildings due to its ease of application and minimal disruption to the property, while external tanking provides a comprehensive solution from the outside but requires excavation – which can be more complex and costly.
2) Type of Drainage System: An effective drainage system is an integral part of any basement tanking strategy. In internal tanking systems, cavity drain membranes direct water toward drainage channels, where it can be safely removed from the basement. External tanking systems also rely on proper drainage to prevent water accumulation against the external walls.
3) Professional Expertise: Basement tanking is a specialised process that requires a lot of knowledge and expertise. It’s always vital that you consult with experienced professionals like us to assess the specific needs of the project and recommend the most suitable tanking solution.
4) Maintenance Considerations: Regular maintenance is essential to ensure the longevity of basement tanking systems – While these systems are designed to provide long-term protection, periodic inspections and maintenance can address any potential issues before they escalate. Clearing drainage channels, checking for cracks, and addressing any signs of deterioration are important steps in preserving the tanking system.

Basement conversion projects offer a creative solution to space constraints and can significantly enhance the value and functionality of a property. However, the success of such projects hinges on addressing potential challenges like water ingress or rising damp. Basement tanking therefore plays a pivotal role in preventing water-related issues, protecting your investments, and ensuring the durability of the newly converted space. By seeking professional guidance, carefully considering the type of tanking system and committing to regular maintenance, you can confidently embark on a basement conversion project that stands the test of time.