Is waterproofing necessary on a slab foundation?

Since slab foundations do not enclose the space below ground level, traditional waterproofing is often not required. Water is more likely to enter a slab foundation due to openings in icy walls for sewer pipes and other mechanical elements. Water can also pass through foundation walls in the same way that it can seep into a basement, through cracks and the joint of the cove. In fact, because these walls are often surrounded by gravel rather than compacted soil, it is easier for water to penetrate.

It is true that there is normally a vapor barrier under the ground, but vapor barriers are not intended to stop groundwater, only water vapor. There's really no reason to have a shoe drain or moisture protection with slab above grade. If you have a groundwater problem (which you say no), a case could be made to keep water out of the EPS insulation, as it could affect the R value. You should have a good vapor retarder under the slab.

If the foundation wall is blocked, a good large layer or equivalent will protect it from prolonged freeze-thaw damage. Most waterproofing systems need protection during backfilling. Some manufacturers have their own protective plate for this purpose. A drainage or insulation mat can also function as a protective board.

An inexpensive 1-inch thick expanded polystyrene foam board works well as a basic protective layer. However, a manufacturer has a protection plate that functions as insulation, protection plate, and drain medium in one. In some construction projects, it is necessary to apply waterproofing before the foundation concrete is cast. This approach is commonly needed in environments with high groundwater levels in urban locations and in any structure where homeowners are concerned about water infiltration through the foundation slab or confined walls.

If you're using a waterproofing subcontractor, recognize that good waterproofing materials can be in high demand during peak season.

Gwenda Hunt
Gwenda Hunt

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