A building’s envelope is described as any component of a building that touches the outside air and repels the elements, such as the roof, walls, doors and windows. There are also some not-so-obvious parts of a building’s envelope that often get overlooked, such as the lighting, handrails, signs, steps, pavement, concrete slabs, mechanical equipment and decorative features.

It’s important to take into consideration a building’s entire envelope, including the not-so-obvious parts, when it comes to waterproofing the exterior, say the experts at Western Specialty Contractors.

“The reason that this is so important is because a building envelope has to have all of those elements that are a part of it to be 100% waterproof, if you’re going to keep water from damaging the interior spaces,” says Teddy Williams, Content Marketing Manager at Western Specialty Contractors. “Look at waterproofing like an offensive line of football. An offensive line has five players whose job it is to protect the quarterback, and if four of those guys block really well, but the fifth player gives up a sack, it really doesn’t matter how well those four other players performed because the end result is the same; the quarterback got sacked. That’s kind of how waterproofing a building is. All of the elements can work really well, but if one part doesn’t do its job and lets water in, then it really doesn’t matter how well those other parts were doing at their job.”

Coined as the 90%/1% principle by author Michael Kubal in his book The Construction Waterproofing Handbook, a small area of a building, or one percent, is basically going to cause the majority of a building’s problems.

“If you can control and manage this one percent area, a lot of your building’s moisture issues are going to be solved, and you’re going to have a lot easier time in terms of waterproofing your building,” said Williams.

The one percent area of a building that causes most of the moisture problems, according to Western’s experts, is the gap where one component transitions into another. For example:

  • Where a door meets a surrounding wall
  • Where the glass of a window meets the metal frame
  • Where the metal frame meets the surrounding wall
  • Where a handrail meets the brick

“If the sealants, glazing or caulk joints at these transition points are failing or absent, water is sure to seep in and cause damage over time,” said Williams.  “These small areas of a building’s envelope can cause the greatest damage and should be closely monitored and maintained consistently to protect the overall building.”

For more information about waterproofing, contact the Western Specialty Contractors branch location nearest you: http://www.westernspecialtycontractors.com/western-locations/.