Waterproofing your basement: Exploring the options

If your basement is wet, damp or musty-smelling, you probably wonder whether there’s anything that can be done about it. You’ve no doubt heard advertisements about waterproofing techniques and products, but is it really possible to dry out a damp basement? The short answer is yes. In truth, however, there are many different ways to go about the process and it can be daunting to try to figure out where to start and which method is best for your particular situation. The very first thing to do is to figure out what’s causing the moisture.



Locating the source of the moisture

Before you can decide which method to use to reduce the amount of moisture in your basement, you’ll have to determine the source of the moisture. There’s a very easy way to do this. Tape a small piece of aluminium foil (about 1 square foot) to the inside of one of the basement walls. After 24 hours, check to see if there is condensation on the outside of the foil. If there is, your basement has a high humidity level. A dehumidifier may solve the problem. If, however, there is condensation on the inside of the foil (between the foil and the wall) it could be an indication that the soil around your home’s foundation has a high water content due to poor drainage. If that’s the case, you’ll likely need to waterproof your walls to get best results.

There are several ways to waterproof your basement walls. Let’s look at a few options:

Concrete waterproofing sealants

These thick coatings are something like cement.  They adhere strongly and permanently to the concrete of your basement walls once dry. These coatings can be applied to masonry or concrete with a nature fibre brush. The downside is that they cannot be applied to painted surfaces and this method is only good if your basement is unfinished, unless you want to remove your drywall. On the upside, this is an affordable and easy DIY project.


Also best suited for unpainted walls, these products are designed to soak directly into the walls and react with the concrete or brick to form a durable, waterproof surface.  These products seep into the brick, rather than sitting on top. The advantage to that is that they cannot flake off or peel. This is also a good option if you are looking for a DIY solution.

Waterproofing paint

Much like regular wall paint, waterproofing paint is designed to be brushed or rolled onto the wall. Because it is thick, however, waterproofing paint covers much less wall space per gallon than standard paint. So, if you are planning on doing this DIY project, be sure to check the product instructions to be sure you are buying enough.

Plastic sheeting

Used in conjunction with interior basement drainage systems, this method doesn’t technically waterproof your walls in that water can still seep through the walls, but the protective plastic sheeting barrier will prevent that moisture from damaging your basement. This method is best done by a professional such as Affordable Waterproofing.

Erin Emanuel


  1. I like what this article mentions about plastic sheeting. I think having these plastic sheets to stop the moisture from seeping through my walls could be very helpful with my areas weather. I just moved, and it rains a lot more often than it did in my old area, so I am having to deal with problems I don’t know a lot about. Thanks for sharing, these tips really give me a good idea of what to look for when waterproofing.

  2. I think the 1 square foot aluminum foil trick is great. I know I have a lot of moisture in my basement and I also have dogs. This combination makes the smell pretty aggressive sometimes but i use a dehumidifier and open the windows as often as possible. Nice idea!

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