Spring isn’t the only time of year you should clean and prepare your home. Fall is the perfect time to get your house ready for the dampness that comes with the change of seasons. Two of the most common ways to combat moisture is with sealants and waterproofing. Sealants are predominantly used in basements to help keep the moisture out. Waterproofing via different methods is mostly used on wood around your home.
More than half of US homes have an issue with moisture in their basements. Some common causes of moisture in the basement include condensation, runoff, and leaks. A good basement sealant is vital to protecting the contents of your home and your foundation from moisture. Most basement sealants are simple enough to be a DIY project for you. So what should you do?
- First, don’t ignore a persistent musty smell in your basement. This is usually a sign of a moisture problem.
- Make sure to identify the source of the moisture problem before trying any DIY repairs, whether it is from condensation, runoff from your yard, or from a leak.
- Check the grading around your home for potential runoff sources, check your downspouts to make sure they are pointed away from foundations and that they aren’t leaking, and check for any cracks in your driveway. Also check your gutters to make sure they are free of debris or consider installing gutter guards to help prevent clogs and make cleaning much easier.
- Patch any cracks you find in your basement floor and walls.
Once you’ve identified any issues and fixed them, you can then apply your sealant. Sealants coat basement walls and floors for quick waterproofing that can also be decorated! You may need to apply more than 1 coat depending on the size and condition of your walls and floors.
Wood is the world’s oldest and most common building material. Without any protection, wood is subject to damage from moisture and high humidity leading to swelling, warping, and even rotting. Unprotected wood is also left exposed to pests like termites. Choosing the best method of waterproofing your wood depends on several factors including whether or not the wood is on the interior or exterior of your home and whether or not it is light or dark grained. So what options are out there?
- Hand rubbed oil finishes: Hand rubbed oil finishes are derived from linseed or Tung oil and are usually used on dark grained woods like walnut and mahogany. As the name implies, these oils are rubbed on by hand and typically take longer to apply than other waterproofing options. These oil finishes can be combined with other ingredients to make them dry quicker or to help eliminate stickiness that is often left behind after application. They can be purchased pre-blended or you can mix your own if you want a more custom finish.
- Sealants: Sealants come in several different varieties including polyurethane, varnish, and lacquer. These are all sealants with waterproofing properties. Sealants can be sprayed or brushed on making their application much easier than hand rubbed oils. They are also quicker to dry than hand rubbed oils. A negative property of sealants is that they usually contain ingredients that have strong fumes and require ventilation while applying and until they are dry.
- Stain/Sealant Combos: A third option is a stain/sealant combo which mixes a hand rubbed stain finish with a sealant in one product. These types of waterproofing products are especially good for use with larger scale projects like wood decks. Combo products allow you to apply a color or stain while also waterproofing in one easy application. They will need to be reapplied every 1 to 2 years for continued waterproofing.