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What is Damp-Proof Paint and Does it Work?

Applying water proof paint

Damp of any kind is a structural issue at worst and an aesthetic issue at best, and whilst the look of peeling paint might not rival the severity of the internal damage at the root of the problem, it can certainly have a big impact on those living within the home. In an effort to curb ruined paintwork, many homeowners choose to apply a layer of damp-proof paint, believing it will prevent damp underneath whilst preserving the look of their home décor.

If your home is particularly susceptible to damp, damp-proof paint might sound like a foolproof solution to your problems, but is that the case? Before you rush out to buy a tin, it’s important you first understand the product in question because, unfortunately, it’s not a one-size-fits-all fix to damp.

What is Damp-Proof Paint?

As the name suggests, damp-proof paint is paint that is designed to protect against damp. It can be purchased for both interior and exterior walls, although you should always consult a professional before painting the outside of your house because some paints – even damp-proof paints – can prevent the walls from breathing which causes them to trap moisture and incur damp damage.

Damp-proof paint can be used by itself, or it can be used as a primer underneath decorative paint. It is most commonly used in cellars, basements and other areas that typically have a high level of humidity and less than ample ventilation, but it is sometimes used throughout a house.

It is important to note that if you have a basement, or if any part of your home extends below ground level, it is heavily advised that you undergo basement tanking to thoroughly protect your walls from groundwater surrounding your home’s sub-surface structure. Damp-proof paint by itself will not stop or prevent such an issue.

How Does Damp-Proof Paint Work?

Whether you’re using interior or exterior damp-proof paint, they both work in the same way. Put simply, they allow moisture to escape from the walls, but they do not allow moisture to seep in, therefore minimising the risk of unsightly and problematic damp.

They do this because they contain a water-reactive element. Different brands and formulations will have different ingredients, but in essence, they all share the common goal of allowing damp to exit the wall but not enter.

Is it Effective?

To an extent, damp-proof paint is effective. Provided you have no existing damp issues and a solid DPC (damp proof course) installed, there is no reason why you can’t use damp targeting paint as an added layer of protection. That being said, it is not a fix to existing damp issues which is where many people go wrong.

Often, landlords or homeowners who spot a damp issue will opt to paint over it with damp-proof paint in the hopes it will stop the problem in its tracks (and do so cheaply), but this is simply not true. Damp-proof paint will do nothing more than mask the problem underneath, and even then, it will only do so for a temporary amount of time. In this instance, the solution is not to keep layering the paint on (this could actually cause more damage); it is to tackle the problem at its root before it takes hold and causes much more serious damage than peeling décor.

Should you use such a product on bare brick and find it still peels, expensive sandblasting back to bare brick would be required prior to applying any waterproof renders that are most often more suitable to the original defect.

If you think you have rising damp or penetrative damp, you will need to enlist a professional to deal with the issue quickly and efficiently. Failure to do so could leave you with significant issues far beyond wet paint, resulting in a much more costly fix.

Should your house be free of any damp issues, damp-proof paint can and will provide lasting protection from residual moisture that naturally occurs.

How to Apply Damp-Proof Paint

If your home has no existing damp issues, applying damp resistant paint is relatively straightforward. In the same way you would apply any other type of emulsion, you must first wipe the wall clean of any debris and loose material. When this is done, you may paint as normal. One to two layers should be efficient – no more than that is recommended.

As mentioned previously, if you want to use damp-proof paint on the exterior of your house, it is wise to speak to a professional first because doing so could cause you more damage than protection.

Preventing Damp

Applying a layer of damp proof paint will not solve all your moisture issues. It’s important you minimise the risk of incurring damp issues by:

  • Installing a DPC (Damp Proof Course) if your house does not already have one
  • Opening windows every day to allow air to circulate and moisture to exit
  • Buying a dehumidifier to draw excess moisture out of the air, unless you take the extractor fan route
  • Keeping furniture away from radiators and heaters in order to allow the heat to travel around the room and not get trapped in one area
  • Installing an extractor fan in your kitchen and using it whilst cooking, and installing one in your bathroom and using it whilst showering (as well as opening a window)

If you do the above, you stand a good chance of reducing damp such as condensation, in which case damp-proof paint will work effectively.

Find Out More

Our team are happy to help with any questions you may have about damp, damp-proof paint and reducing the risk of damp. Simply get in touch with us today.

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