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How Does Foundation Waterproofing Protect Your Home?

Sam Smith Foundation Repair Consultant

Wrapping waterproofing material around foundation

If you’re in search of accurate foundation waterproofing costs, you’ve come to the right place!

Here’s what you’ll learn by the end of this article:

  • The different basement waterproofing options
  • How to waterproof your concrete foundation
  • How to save money with concrete waterproofing

Your home’s foundation holds up tens of thousands of pounds of construction material and offers structural integrity to your entire house. Still, water is what causes damage to foundations most commonly and not the immense weight they support.

Water intrusion is a huge problem for basements and crawlspaces, but moisture creates issues for slab foundations and pier and beam foundations as well.

Intrusion through any type of concrete is common due to hydrostatic pressure, so water issues are prevalent in all kinds of foundations.

Most homeowners will confront some liquid water or water vapor complication. Some employ measures like exterior drainage and soil grading to help reduce the chance of water intrusion, but other methods are needed to make concrete waterproof.

In this article, we’re going to go over the most common methods used to waterproof a foundation, how to use them, and how to save money in the process.

What Does “Waterproofing” Your Foundation Mean?

Basement waterproofing systems


Waterproofing can mean different things depending on your needs, climate, and soil. It can refer to any form of protection for your foundation.

Waterproofing measures include stopping water from contacting your foundation, preventing water from seeping through your concrete, and removing water that has already gotten into your home.

Most homeowners use multiple methods to waterproof their foundation for the best results. It’s useful to know all of the standard techniques so that you can put together a combination that will keep your foundation protected.


Dampproofing is an elastomeric sealant that gets applied to the outside of your foundation walls. It’s often used in new construction and may even be mandated by your municipality’s building code.

This sealer isn’t waterproof but will act as a vapor barrier and help keep excess moisture out of your crawlspace or foundation. It cannot be applied to slab foundations. There are other vapor barriers that can be used on concrete slabs.

Dampproofing is usually considered the first barrier for keeping water out of your home. It’s most often used in combination with other waterproofing products.

Waterproofing Paint

Waterproofing a foundation

Waterproofing paint is applied to any area of your foundation that doesn’t come in contact with the soil. It’s applied like a standard interior paint with rollers or a sprayer.

It can be used on the inside of crawlspace or basement walls, on your basement floor, on the underside of a pier and beam foundation, or on the top side of a slab to act as a vapor barrier.

This type of waterproofing membrane will not stop water seepage through your concrete. It’s an acrylic seal used to prevent moisture from entering into your home. It will trap water between itself and your concrete, which can be problematic in homes with heavy water intrusion.

Exterior Drainage Systems

French drains collect excess water from the surrounding soil

Exterior drainage systems are installed in the soil around your foundation and collect excess water from the ground. There are two main kinds of exterior drain systems: French drains and footing drains.

French drains are shallow drainage systems designed to move runoff and rainwater from the area around your concrete. They are a preventative measure that limits the amount of water that comes in contact with your foundation.

Footing drains are buried much deeper around your foundation’s footing. These are designed to gather groundwater that may seep into your foundation and move it away before it has the chance.

Exterior drains are very good at removing lots of water. They’re an excellent preventative measure and usually combine well with other waterproofing methods. They excel at combating high water tables and heavy rainfall.

They aren’t a perfect solution to water intrusion. Plant growth and fine soil can clog the drain pipes and render them useless. They can also collapse under the backfill or if excess pressure is placed over them after backfilling.

Interior Drainage Systems


Interior drainage systems are installed on the inside of your home, so they are only possible in crawlspace and basement foundations. They require excavation of concrete, so they don’t make for good do-it-yourself solutions. There are a few types of interior systems as well.

Tile drains are installed at the base of your concrete walls. They collect water that seeps in and route it toward a sump pump for removal to a safe portion of your property.

Floor drains need the basement floor to be sloped toward grates for water collection. Drain pipes set into or below the slab remove water with the help of a sump pump.

Tile drains and floor drains both need a sump pump to work, but sump pumps can also be used as standalone interior drainage systems. A large hole below your basement floor holds a water-activated pump that will remove any buildup of water from your crawlspace or basement.

Interior drainage systems can be installed behind drywall in finished basements.

They are cheapest if they are installed during construction. They can become prohibitively expensive if they are placed retroactively.

How Do You Waterproof a Foundation?

There are many ways to combine the above waterproofing methods to get your foundation protected from water and moisture. We’re going to go over how to combine all of these for the best protection.

Step 1 – Dampproofing

waterproof system


Dampproofing is a critical part of exterior waterproofing. Many municipalities require it because it can reduce rot, mold growth, and foundation damage even if you don’t live in an area with frequent water issues.

Dampproofing should be installed during construction to avoid the need for excavating.

Step 2 – Install an Exterior Drainage System

French Drain Close Up

Installing a French drain or footing drain may be required in your area if you experience frequent rain or have a high water table.

Placing one of these systems on your property will help limit the amount of water that your other waterproofing systems need to keep out.

Step 3 – Landscaping

Foundation grading and landscaping

Adapting your landscaping is a big part of waterproofing. Soil should be graded away from your foundation on all sides at an appropriate slope.

You should relocate any plants that are within a foot of your home’s foundation because roots hold water and can create moisture problems.

Step 4 – Install a Gutter System

Gutter installation

Gutters and downspouts are another part of your system that can limit the water that comes in contact with your foundation.

Gutters collect rainwater from your roof and move it to appropriate downspout locations instead of letting it fall next to your foundation. Gutter extensions can help relocate it even further away.

Step 5 – Apply Waterproofing Paint to the Interior

Waterproofing paint

Waterproof paint is your next method of waterproofing. This coating can only be applied to foundations that leave openings under your home, like basements or crawlspaces.

The paint will help stop water from seeping in through the concrete and damaging your property. It should be applied only after foundation cracks are filled with an epoxy or polyurethane filler.

Step 6 – Install an Interior Drainage System

Floor drain in basement

Installing a tile drain, floor drain, or standalone sump pump is your last step to a waterproofed foundation.

These systems will remove any water that does happen to get in. If you’ve followed the previous steps, the only real chance of a wet basement at this point would be a flood or other catastrophe.

An interior drainage system will act as a failsafe for your other waterproofing methods.

How To Save Money When Waterproofing Your Foundation?

Foundation waterproofing is costly if you do it properly. There are some ways to save money throughout the process.

The first way is to get a proper solution installed the first time you waterproof your concrete.

The hundreds or thousands of dollars you spend to seal your foundation properly will pale in comparison to major water damage if you opt for cheaper, more temporary solutions.

Sufficient waterproofing will be more expensive now but can save you money, time, and stress in the future.

Many of the options I’ve detailed above will be cheaper if you choose to install them during construction. For example, footing drains require massively costly excavation that won’t be needed during construction. Dampproofing is trivial before backfilling is done during construction but much more expensive if done after your home is built.

You can also save money by choosing the solutions you need instead of going overboard. A footing drain will cost you thousands of dollars but may not help you if your problem is with runoff. You should work with one of our professionals to choose the solution that fits your situation instead of going with all of the possible solutions.

You can save money on labor costs by doing some of the work yourself. Interior drainage systems are best left to one of our pros, but French drains and interior waterproofing can be done by anyone who’s up for a DIY project.

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Sam Smith Foundation Repair Consultant
SHORT BIO: Hey, I'm Sam Smith. I'm one of our service techs here at Regional Foundation Repair. I'm here to help you learn more about your home's foundation. I've been doing this for a while, so I have a few insider tips and tricks to share!

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