brick basement walls/preparation for remolding
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Basementhelp



Joined: 18 Jan 2010
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2010 9:07 pm    Post subject: brick basement walls/preparation for remolding Reply with quote

Hi John,
>
> I have a question about the brick walls in my basement. They are the
> size of a cinder block but they are a red brick? I have never seen
> anything like it before. I want to refinish my basement...and I thought
> about possibly using plaster to make the walls look like an Italian Fresco
> since they have quite a few imperfections.
>
> It looks like the previous homeowner tried to spray some type of
> water-proofing on one of the walls and it appears to be peeling, not
> adhering
> at all to the surface. I do not have a water problem. I do notice some
> dampness along the floor where it meets up to the walls.
>
> I am writing because I want to know how I should prepare the brick
> surface so that it would receive the plaster. Or am I just setting myself
> up for failure?
>
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johnleeke
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Joined: 20 Aug 2004
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Location: Portland, Maine, USA

PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2010 1:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This sounds like structural terra cotta block construction.

Quote:
am I just setting myself up for failure?


Perhaps.

One of the functions of your foundation walls and the basement is for the walls to give up their moisture into the air of the basement, which can then be vented outdoors, keeping the foundation walls and the house above dry and free of deterioration.

As you have already noticed, anything applied to the walls goes counter to this function is likely to fail.

The original purpose of your basement is probably to provide a service area for the rest of the building. The air keeps the foundation walls and first floor wood structure dry and in good condition, the space gives access to plumbing and electrical systems, etc.

The best strategy may be to "go with the flow" and continue to use the basement in this same way, since it is already ideally suited for it.

I am currently advising a client who finished off a basement in the 1980s and is now facing extensive failure of all the materials installed in that round of work, all due to moisture that got trapped in the foundation walls, and new flooring systems.

It is sometimes possible to finish off a basement space like this, but the project must involve a way to ventilate the foundation walls to carry away moisture, and often includes drainage system work at the exterior of the foundation and at the interior, and all across the entire floor.

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John

by hammer and hand great works do stand
by pen and thought best words are wrought


Last edited by johnleeke on Thu Jan 28, 2010 10:44 am; edited 1 time in total
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Basementhelp



Joined: 18 Jan 2010
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 10:09 pm    Post subject: Terra Cotta Block Reply with quote

Hi John, thank you for your frank advise. You stated that there is a way to finish off a basement but the foundation needs a way to divert or eliminate the moisture.

Do you know of any systems or anyway to do this without having to dig
up the outside of the foundation?
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johnleeke
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Location: Portland, Maine, USA

PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 10:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You may be able to significantly improve drainage at the exterior without much digging with roof gutters, downspouts, ground leaders or drainage lines and regrading the ground surface so it slope away from the foundation, growing grass on that slope right up to the foundation, etc.

But, there probably are no quick & easy fixes to make you foundation walls hold any coating over the long term without damage to the foundation. There are companies that will come to install many kinds of products in your basement to "de-water" it, but they are just products and may or may not work, and will fail sooner or later, probably sooner.

To get finished space in a basement it is sometimes effective to build a partition wall about 3 to 5 feet away from the foundation wall of materials that will not deteriorate due to moisture (like old-growth wood and traditional lime plaster), then ventilate the space between the walls. Of course, you loose a lot of floor space with this approach, but it does provide for that original function of taking the moisture from the foundation wall into a large volume of air and disposing of it.

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John

by hammer and hand great works do stand
by pen and thought best words are wrought
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Basementhelp



Joined: 18 Jan 2010
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 12:01 pm    Post subject: Basementhelp Reply with quote

John have you heard of the Owens Corning Basement Finishing System? I had a presentation done and they claimed that the procduct installed would allow for moisture to evaporate as it normally does.

What do you know about this system? Is it a farce or is it a good option for basement refinishing?
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johnleeke
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 1:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

These are exactly the kind of products I was talking about.

Quote:
they claimed that the product installed would allow for moisture to evaporate as it normally does.


When you consider what they claim keep in mind that their single purpose is to sell you something.

According to pictures on their website a thick panel is installed flat against the basement foundation wall.



there is no way moisture at the surface of the foundation wall is going to evaporate as it normally does. It normally evaporates into the large volume of air throughout the entire basement. According to well the known physical properties of all materials in the universe, it takes a very large volume of air to absorb moisture from the wall. This is the most effective way for the moisture to evaporate, and it is definitely not going to happen with the very small volume of air behind that panel.

I quote from their website:

"* While the materials and design of the Owens Corning™ Basement Finishing System™ resist mold and mildew, the system cannot prevent or mitigate mold if the conditions necessary for mold growth otherwise exist in your basement."

They have hidden this little item, probably written by their lawyers, in a footnote at the bottom of the page. Now just think about this. Why would they bother to make a product resistant to mold and mildew (that is caused by moisture), and then pay costly lawyers to bury the fact that moisture may in fact exist in your basement, and limit their responsibility if mold and mildew does develop? Could it be because mold and mildew will develop because their panel has block the effective way to mitigate moisture and prevent mold and mildew, namely by effective evaporation?

And then they show this little gem at the very bottom:

"** See actual warranty for details."

But they don't show you the actual warranty. Now why would they not want you to see the actual warranty? Do you get the idea they are trying to hide something from you?

One thing those panels are definitely going to do is hide the walls of your foundation. The foundation is one of the most important systems in the entire house, it holds everything up. You want to be able to see your foundation walls, so you can easily tell if there is something going wrong and have a chance to fix it before major damage occurs. This is another good reason your basement walls were left bare and exposed to view when it was originally constructed.

Keep in mind that one of the reasons you have a nice old house to live in is because the original builders left your basement walls exposed. This has resulted in a house and foundation that has lasted for several decades. Maybe you know something about your home and what it needs that the Owen Corning corporation and their sales people could care less about.

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John

by hammer and hand great works do stand
by pen and thought best words are wrought
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