Moisture, when not controlled, can have a devastating effect on an overall building enclosure. But, when it comes to the building envelope, it’s not just the floor you need to worry about. Moisture intrusion can enter in a variety of ways, whether as a solid, liquid or gas. It can leak in through porous building materials, flow in through gaps in cladding, form as condensation when there are temperature differentials or intrude in a variety of other ways.

However it happens, improper water barriers can affect the air quality and result in serious health risks for those inside the building. Mold and mildew due to liquid buildup can cause upper respiratory problems in occupants, including coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, asthma aggravation or cause other complications. Damp or wet environments can also degrade the structure’s physical stability. Rusting metal beams, rotting wood barriers and floors and other effects can be costly and dangerous. In fact, moisture intrusion is one of the largest factors affecting the building’s durability overtime. 

The building envelope, which is the physical enclosure, is composed of three crucial barriers that protect against the elements. They provide vital separation of the interior from the exterior, including thermal, air and moisture control layers. Taking these factors into consideration and properly installing all control layers is vital. Furthermore, when accounted for during construction, they prevent more costly installations or repairs down the road.

Air and Thermal Barriers Reduce Condensation

When designing building enclosures that reduce water intrusion, it’s important to factor in condensation. Ensure the exterior is airtight by employing continuous air barriers around the entire enclosure. To be effective, they must prevent air leakage into the exterior enclosure assemblies during cold weather while also preventing heat transfer into the interior wall, ceiling and floor cavities in hot weather. Managing the flow of air and water vapor allows you to avoid condensation on building materials and prevent expensive problems later on. 

To manage heat transfer, a continuous thermal barrier made up of insulating materials should also be installed. This will reduce condensation inside walls and ceilings, which is especially important for high-risk areas like metal framing, concrete slabs and angle iron ledgers.

It is also necessary to utilize sealants around known problem areas such as windows, doors, exhausts, ducts and other common penetrations. Additionally, design the foundation to prevent condensation in crawl spaces, basements and walls. 

Water Barriers for Flooring

Water barriers in flooring is also just as important as those in the building’s exterior. No matter the surface material of floors, if moisture seeps through and attacks the substrate, the overall installation may be at risk of failure.

The Laticrete Masonry Veneer Installation System (MVIS) is designed to deliver superior, long-term performance on thin-brick, manufactured stone and natural stone veneers. Engineered to provide a permanent, high-strength solution that is freeze thaw stable, MVIS effectively protects structures against water intrusion. The complete system includes air and water barrier products, sealing tapes, various polymer fortified adhesive mortars that provide non-sag performance, latex admix and epoxy adhesives, pointing mortar, sealants and paver joint fillers.

Besides protecting against moisture intrusion in the substrate, it is also necessary to waterproof seams, gaps or joints in the flooring. Latapoxy Waterproof Flashing Mortar by Laticrete can be used on a variety of substrates including metal and PVC pipe penetrations or flashing. An epoxy-based membrane, it is specifically designed to be used with ceramic tile, stone or brick for rapid installations.