January 7, 2010

How To Use Basement Tanking Products to Transform Your Cellar

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With the global economy slumping, and home prices retreating from the peak values witnessed just a few years back, many homeowners are starting to consider improving the space that they already have rather than an upgrade to a larger home.  For homeowners in much of England, in many instances this means expanding their living space downwards, into a currently unfinished basement or cellar space.  Finishing a cellar is substantially less expensive than expanding upwards, which requires a great deal of construction, including altering the structure of a home to include new walls, a new roof, and a new distribution of weight, and can drastically increase the amount of living space in a home, essentially adding an entire floor of livable area without altering the structural layout of a building.

When planning a cellar finishing project, there are a number of important considerations for homeowners to keep in mind.  Chief amongst these, given the damp climate of the country, are those of waterproofing and drainage.  The importance of protecting a cellar against water simply cannot be overstated, as without adequate waterproofing and drainage, groundwater leakage and condensation will inevitably wreak havoc on almost any finished cellar, undermining whatever investment homeowners have made by way of flooding, mold, and water damage.

Tanking refers to a form of waterproofing that is extremely popular in England, and a good option for homeowners to weigh.  Tanking systems bond to cellars themselves to physically repel groundwater from penetrating a structure, literally creating a “tank” that collects groundwater on the outside of a room.  Tanking usually involves the use of a plastic membrane, which is installed within the exterior walls of a structure, but on the outside of the insulation, meaning that it must be considered before the finishing of walls begins.  This drastically reduces the amount of groundwater that enters a cellar, and in some cases completely preventing the entrance of any groundwater.

Even in finished cellars that are adequately tanked, however, it is likely that some moisture will penetrate a structure.  Naturally occurring humidity, condensation, and the climate itself dictate that it is almost impossible to create a totally dry room, especially beneath ground.  This naturally occurring moisture can lead to a number of problems in the wood used to finish a cellar, including wet rot and dry rot.  Wet rot, or cellar fungus, as it is commonly known, gradually erodes the structural strength of timbers, eventually rendering them incapable of supporting any weight.  Dry rot, an even more destructive fungus, will eventually completely destroy timbers and can be transmitted through masonry under the right conditions.  Despite the name of the latter fungus, both are transmitted to timbers by way of excessive moisture exposure.  Keeping these possibilities in mind, it is also important that homeowners remember to treat all timber used in their cellar finishing project.  Timber treatment for wet and dry rot usually involve the application of a fungicidal chemical paste to the surface, and sometimes the center of timbers used in cellar finishing projects.

Having planned the tanking of their basements prior to the initiation of the finishing process while using treated timbers, homeowners can move on to the more glamorous details of the design of their basement conversions.  Knowing that they have adequately planned against the possibility of water damage, homeowners will be able to design a basement with the peace of mind that comes with knowing that their newfound investment in living space is well protected against the elements.

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