Arab Construction World – October, 2007
An innovative technology is changing the way concrete structures around the world are waterproofed and repaired. Used for more than 30 years worldwide, “Integral Crystalline Waterproofing (ICW)” utilizes a chemical reaction to turn concrete into a permanent, waterproof barrier.
While conventional waterproofing involves applying a coating or membrane to the concrete surface, crystalline technology permanently seals concrete by plugging its natural pores and capillaries and thus blocking the movement of water.
How Does Integral Crystalline Waterproofing Work?
When added or applied to concrete, crystalline chemicals create a reaction that causes long, narrow crystals to form, filling the pores, capillaries and hairline cracks of the concrete mass. As long as moisture remains present, crystals continue to grow throughout the concrete, reaching lengths of many inches over time. Once the concrete has cured, the crystalline chemicals sit dormant until another dose of water (such as through a new crack) causes the chemical reaction to begin again.
The ability to reactivate in the presence of water gives crystalline-treated concrete the ability to “self-seal”. When cracks form due to curing shrinkage, settling, seismic activity, etc., water entering through them causes new crystals to form and grow, blocking and filling the cracks. Its ability to self-seal cracks is one of crystalline technology’s most unique and useful features; and so, can help to dramatically reduce the long-term maintenance and repair costs of a concrete structure.
Other Benefits of Integral Crystalline Technology
Along with superior waterproofing and self-sealing properties, integral crystalline waterproofing technology offers a number of key benefits
In hot or tropical climates, integral crystalline waterproofing offers several key advantages. Hot weather can dramatically shorten concrete’s setting time, resulting in weaker concrete and enhancing the likelihood of shrinkage and cracking. Adding crystalline chemicals to the concrete mix reduces premature moisture loss, creating a more durable structure and reducing shrinkage and cracking. Unlike membrane systems that become brittle and deteriorate when exposed to prolonged heat, crystalline waterproofing is unaffected by climate and remains effective for the life of the structure.
Selecting a Quality Integral Crystalline Waterproofing System
A number of companies – including Kryton International – offer integral crystalline waterproofing systems: featuring products for new and existing concrete structures and joints. When selecting an Integral Crystalline Waterproofing system, it’s important not to confuse true crystalline products with those that are simply concrete densifiers or pore blockers. Be wary also of products that claim to grow crystals but that really merely crystallize as they dry – these products will not permeate the concrete, nor will they reactivate in the presence of water to fill cracks. Ask whether the product you are considering contains silicates, stearates, or talc – these offer temporary waterproofing at best. And be sure your manufacturer offers a long-term warranty on all crystalline products.
Though originally received with skepticism, integral crystalline waterproofing has been repeatedly and successfully tested and used in virtually every country around the world. Over the past few decades, crystalline technology has been embraced by the construction industry as a superior replacement for conventional membranes, offering time and cost savings and flexibility that are simply unmatched by traditional waterproofing methods.
Leo Connell is the Marketing Director of Kryton International Inc. in Vancouver, BC