Concrete is relatively cheap, versatile and strong building material. But without waterproofing, it is reduced to a hard sponge that is vulnerable to deterioration. Traditionally, external membranes have been used to waterproof concrete, but over the last three decades, integral crystalline waterproofing has been making a slow but steady rise to the top.
Replacing external membranes, Bentonite systems and liquid solvents, integral crystalline waterproofing turns an entire concrete slab into a permanent waterproof barrier. When the dry powder is added to the concrete at the time of mixing, crystalline chemicals react with water to form millions of needle-like crystals, waterproofing both positive and negative sides of the concrete. This ‘integral’ membrane is impervious to physical damage and deterioration; there is no danger of punctures, tears, or seam leaks. As a result, a structure’s durability is increased, time and money is saved in both the initial process and in the long run as maintenance and repair costs are avoided.
One of the most unique benefits of crystalline waterproofing is its ability to lie dormant within the concrete matrix until settling or a new crack re-introduces water. Reintroducing water will trigger the crystallization process again, ensuring that the waterproofing is intact for the service life of the concrete.
Moreover, crystalline technology enables the concrete to self-seal. The crystalline formula can allow concrete to self-seal hairline cracks up to 0.02 in. (0.5 mm), even years after the original construction. This means that the concrete is more durable as cracks, which serve as water passages, are reduced.
In addition to promoting and enhancing the natural hydration process of cement, these systems are highly reliable for a wide range of applications. For example, concrete treated with crystalline admixtures is suitable for complex architectural designs. As architectural protrusions do not pose any waterproofing challenge, any type of concrete structure—vertical, horizontal or shaped—can be securely waterproofed.
Additionally, crystalline admixtures offer installation advantages. Unlike traditional membrane waterproofing, which tends to be labor-intensive and expensive, crystalline technology decreases installation and maintenance costs and is easy to handle—admixtures can be shipped in dissolvable, pulpable bags that are thrown into the concrete batch during mixing. This speeds up the construction schedule and decreases labour costs by combining steps with concrete placing.
Although sheet membranes have been the industry norm, integral crystalline waterproofing systems are being considered and selected more and more often. Advancements in this technology make it a highly versatile and sophisticated method for waterproofing.
Akhil Kakkar is the general manager of Kryton Buildmat Co. Pvt. Ltd., a subsidiary of Kryton International Inc. Kryton is the world’s inventor of integral crystalline waterproofing and have dry projects in the ground since 1973. Be Sure. Be Kryton.