Restoration of Leaking Balconies – Melbourne
Why Balconies Leak
Obviously there are many scenarios which will cause balconies to leak however the common ones we come across are:
- Waterproofing membrane installed incorrectly and cracked.
- Membrane damaged during construction - we have seen fixing guns puncture a newly installed membrane.
- Add to that the wrong grout may have been used which is incompatble with the membrane.
- Not incorporating enough expansion joints in the tile field causing tile lifting due to expansion.
Many balconies leak due to poor design, inferior construction methods, incorrect waterproof application, and failed balcony finishes - which is mostly tiles.
If it Has a Balcony - It Will Leak
This unfortunate statement was taken from the article below:
Though this article was referring to Melbourne’s booming apartment construction, many cities across Australia are experiencing similar issues.
There are several key points within this article:
- Residential multi-story, multi-dwelling, apartment buildings are experiencing an alarming frequency of building defects, most commonly caused through waterproofing failure.
- Balconies were identified as a major cause of waterproofing problems.
- This has led to an assumption that many multi-level balconies do not have “proper waterproofing membranes installed”
- Unfortunately there are inconsistencies with respect to insurance cover, both from building trade cover and the consumer.
- This often results in the building owner having to self-fund the remedial works.
What trade to call to fix a leaking balcony?
Solving leaking balconies is not just about waterproofing.
- Finding out the cause of water leaks and providing rectification can be a complex task.
- There maybe structural issues involved as well as the waterproofing membrane.
- Not understanding the root cause of water leaks can lead to rectification decisions that may not actually resolve the issue.
- We have witnessed diagnosis of water leaks being a waterproof membrane issue when in fact it turned out to be a plumbing problem or a structural design element.
- Unfortunately with many of these cases the newly re-installed membrane didn’t solve the water problem.
- With time the balcony still leaked - starting the cycle once again!
Solving leaking balconies requires multi skilled knowledge:
- Construction methods
- Tiling techniques
- Waterproofing expertise
How do you decide on the correct and best rectification method to resolve water leaks?
First, there needs to be what I call “Water Forensics, Assessment or Investigation” BEFORE you decide which rectification pathway to go down. The cause of water ingress needs to be determined.
Repairing Tiled Balconies
Many construction trades are unaware of the relationship between tiles and the progression of a balcony leaking.
- Tiles installed incorrectly will make a perfectly good membrane leak.
- Tiles expand and contract due to the normal thermal cycle, often times quite extensively with the extremes of the Australian climate.
- Tiles are bonded to the waterproofing membrane and intermittent movement due to expansion and contraction creates tension between the tiles & membrane.
- There are structural methods to cope with this movement - expansion joints.
- Expansion joints - or lack of - are one of “the” most common cause of a failed balcony – and so not the waterproofing.
- If the tile adhesive is not flexible or the membrane too ridged, cracking and water leaks will occur over time.
- Water stops - which are an impervious angle installed on the balcony perimeter to prevent movement of water to an adjacent area or surface - are used in most Australian states.
Though surprisingly not so much in Victoria.
If balcony repairs are performed & these tiling mistakes not corrected,water leaks will continue.
For many cases of leaking balconies there is only one long term solution.
Unfortunately this is the expensive & time consuming complete restoration of the balcony substructure, new waterproof membrane installation & finally a top surface.
Balcony requiring complete strip off, new waterproof membrane and re-tiling.
Best Balcony Waterproofing Product
Elastomeric coatings demonstrate flexibility & extreme adhesion - which is why Building Services Australia (BSA) use these particular waterproofing products for balcony surfaces - i.e scyon, concrete, cement sheet & timber.
Liquid Rubber Membranes exhibit amazing flexibility – providing expansion and contraction – vital for balconies.
Liquid Rubber is spray applied – so no joins, seams or laps that can come aprt.
A long term and durable membrane ideal for balcony repairs &restoration.
- Flexible membrane will not crack with time & move with the building envelope.
- Liquid Rubber is spray-applied over clean and dressed joins to create a FLEXIBLE and SEAMLESS waterproof membrane
Ideas for Repairing Leaking Balconies, Decks & Rooftop Terraces
Using Instant Turf to Restore Terraces
Instant Grass will give an immediate WOW finish for your balcony or rooftop terrace.
Artificial turf can transform balconies, roofs and apartment terraces into a beautiful, green lawn all year round.
Obviously if you are installing artificial lawn on roofs, rooftops or balconies, it is critical to have an effective waterproofing membrane.
- Instant grass will not perform as a waterproofing membrane itself.
- Water can penetrate through the latex backing of instant turf.
- Balcony has to function as a structure first and foremost, including keeping rooms below and the building watertight.