Keeping water infiltration at bay in tall and massive structures can be quite a vexing task. Water infiltration can corrode the structure over time and reduce its longevity. The key to a strong structure is its robust foundation. Although waterproofing constitutes less than 1 % of the construction cost, it is the mainstay of construction activity. It is vital for a resilient foundation of any structure.
Waterproofing can be done either by creating a barrier to stop the ingress of water, using water resistant concrete or by creating a drained cavity system. A water proofing system can also be a combination of all of the above methods, depending on the environmental conditions. Below-grade spaces provide few opportunities for waterproofing repair due to inaccessibility after construction, therefore it is imperative to select the right type of method to be used, the material to be used and the type of application. The factors which play a significant role in deciding the ideal below grade waterproofing techniques depend on the level of hydrostatic pressure and capillary action and the depth of the water table.
Below grade water proofing is mainly done for basement slabs, foundation walls, planters, mud slabs, tunnels, plaza decks and other underground structures. Water proofing is usually done on the positive side (the side directly exposed to water infiltration), the negative side (the internal walls of the structure) or Blind side (treatment on the adjacent wall opposed to the new structure). Positive side water proofing is the most effective and is the most popular. Negative side water proofing is mainly a problem-solving measure.
Tall structures have become synonymous to the growth and prosperity of the nation. Well planned bridges, tunnels and other public infrastructure speak volumes about the progress of the nation. This has been one of the major drivers for the growth of the construction industry.
The Global GDP growth though subdued presently is expected to rebound by 2021 which will also give boost to construction activity. The Global Construction sector is expected to grow to US $ 11.6 trillion by 2023 growing at a CAGR of 4% fuelling the demand for Below Grade Water Proofing.
Increasing construction costs and customer demand for strong and tall structures, having longevity has propelled the need for a corrosion free structure requiring minimum maintenance. This has driven the demand for durable water proofing systems. Green building regulations like LEED implemented in different countries also have led to improved focus on below grade waterproofing. Stratview Research estimates that the global sales of below grade waterproofing will top $2 billion in 2024.
Asia-Pacific is the fastest-growing market owing to augmented economic activity in the region. Europe comes second in terms of growth followed by North America. The Commercial sector and public infrastructure supersede the demand for waterproofing due to improved economic activity. India and China are the fastest-growing economies with increased demand for construction activity and below grade waterproofing.
The practice of waterproofing has existed in some form for more than 2,500 years. Traditionally waterproofing was done with mud and clay, but with technological advancement, many more reliable and environment friendly materials have emerged. The choice of material depends on the site conditions, the soil conditions, the water table information, the crack bridging ability, the cost of the material and resistance to aggressive environments and stress cracking,
Currently polymers account for 1/3rd of the global market followed by Bitumen. Polymers are lightweight, flexible and highly efficient and reliable and have emerged as the fastest-growing material choice. Bitumen is also a material of choice due to its ability to withstand extreme heat conditions and availability in a variety of thicknesses, along with lower cost as compared to polymers. Bentonite, rubberised asphalt, elastomers, cementitious coatings, and crystalline waterproofing are some other materials used. Bentonite is the third largest and the highest-growing material due to its ability to contract and expand infinite number of times.
Bitumen being more cost effective is the dominant material in Asia-Pacific, whereas Polymer is preferred in North America and Europe.
These materials are either sheet based or liquid based. Sheet based membranes capture more than 50% of the market owing to their properties of self-reinforcement and controlled thickness. Polymers, bentonite and rubberised asphalt are used as sheet membranes whereas bitumen is mainly used as liquid based membrane.
The application method to be used also largely depend on the choice of material, the nature of the construction and the level of thickness. Fluid application is mainly used for bitumen, as also wherever there is a difficulty in using sheet based membrane. It is the largest application type, however it requires mixing equipment and long curing time. Self-adhered membranes are cold applied over the existing structure. They have the advantage of providing controlled thickness and ability to bridge large cracks. Another option is to use fully bonded technique where membranes are available in 1-2 meter wide rolls offering great protection from lateral migration of water and have ease of installation. Where the surface for the treatment is irregular, loose laid membranes offer a lightweight and easy solution.
There is a fair degree of market concentration in the global below grade waterproofing market with the top 5 players capturing more than two-thirds of the market. These companies are striving to constantly to improve their product line offering better and green waterproofing solutions.
GCP Applied Technologies, RPM International Inc., and Carlisle Companies Inc. are the major players based in the USA. The other two major players are SIKA AG and BSF SE.
These players are increasingly improving their geographical reach to meet the increasing worldwide demand.
In recent years expensive remedial work to correct failures in below-grade waterproofing systems has motivated owners and designers to seek high-performance and reliable waterproofing solutions to prevent water ingress. This will be one of the major drivers for growth for the waterproofing market.
The future revenue pockets are expected from emerging economies where improved growth and increasing per capita income has created demand for improved public infrastructure and commercial buildings. There has been increased focus on smart city development, Special Economic Zones. The increased infrastructure budgets for public infrastructure like bridges, flyovers and subways, is fuelling the growth for below-grade waterproofing.
Besides, the economic forecast though subdued for 2020, is promising a recovery in 2021 which will further enhance the growth in the below grade waterproofing market.