Basement parging is often seen as an added decoration that completes the look of a home’s exterior. While decorative parging can indeed lift any drabby-looking home, old or new, this practice adds an extra layer of protection for your home’s foundation. However, a lot of homeowners misunderstand just what parging is and why it’s important for keeping your interior dry!
Basement Parging: More Than A Weird Word
Parging is a funny-sounding word, and the definition escapes a lot of homeowners who believe it just another part of the building. “Parging” is a mortar applied to both the interior and exterior of the foundation, covering over the masonry to protect it from the elements. It looks a lot better than the materials used to actually make the foundation, so you see it more often at the foundation level than bare concrete.
Because of this, parging is often considered only decorative, used to hide imperfections and the uglier parts of masonry. This isn’t necessarily the case! While parging is not waterproofing, and shouldn’t be thought of as a good enough barrier in and of itself, it can be an important player on your home’s waterproofing team. Parge coats, properly applied, can act as a barrier against rain and snow for the foundation walls that rise above the soil.
Proper Foundation and Basement Parging
If a parge coat is going to act as a proper barrier, it has to be applied properly. Before parging, the foundation surface and the material have to be readied:
- The surface must be moist and free of stains
- The surface has to be smooth, without brittle or crumbling sections
- The parging has to be prepared according to the instructions of the manufacturer, at the proper application and curing temperature
- The material has to be moistened while it cures
- Any cracks or damage can be repaired and should be done so immediately to stop moisture infiltration
- If damage to the parging is severe, the old coat should be stripped and a new coat reapplied
After the parging is applied, spray it with a little water over the next day or two to slow the drying process and make sure it doesn’t crack or peel. Foundation parging can be painted after it has dried to add some more colour to your home’s exterior: clean the surface, apply the right primer for the paint, and then roll-on two or three coats. Don’t paint the foundation if there is no parging – moisture can get behind the layers of paint and cause damage to the concrete.
While parging can be done by homeowners, it’s important that it be done the right way. When parging is applied incorrectly, water can get between the parge coat and the concrete foundation, causing the moisture damage you were trying to avoid in the first place. It can also lead to a problem called “spalling”, the deterioration and fragmenting of concrete. If your home needs parging repairs or a whole new layer, call your local drainage and waterproofing expert to have it applied correctly!