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The New Waterproofing Regulations & What They Mean To You

26th July 2018

The British Standards Institute (BSI) has now released its latest codes of practice for BS 5385-1 (wall and floor tiling in normal internal conditions), and there’s been a step-change in regulations overseeing works in wet areas. Under the new revision, all substrates should be waterproofed before tiling, even in domestic locations. It’s a positive leap forward that will improve the standards of workmanship for clients across the UK, but what exactly does it mean for you, the professional tiler?

Why Waterproofing Has Always Been So Important

A wet area is any bathroom, wet-room, shower area or steam room, or any other location subject to frequent water contact. Though they tend to be tiled, the substrates being fixed to are often moisture-sensitive (plasterboard, plaster and even some proprietary backer boards); and British Standards advocate the use of tanking membranes to protect them.

This is because the tiles alone are not enough to stop water getting to the them. Cementitious adhesives and grouts are the popular choice for fixing them, and their porous nature allows moisture to pass through. Over time, water is absorbed through the grout joints and adhesive bed and then into underlying substrates.

If the substrate is not protected, it can cause damp and mould issues; and as time progresses, this can even transfer to adjoining rooms and/or cause the tiles to de-bond! Ultimately, you’re left with an unsightly and costly situation to fix.
It is a common misconception that cementitious adhesives and grouts are waterproof. Most are only water resistant, meaning they do not prevent the passage of water, but instead allow water to pass through without being affected.


Changes to British Standards

British Standards already advocated waterproofing in commercial wet areas. However, under the new BS 5385-1:2018 clause for Tanking, it will now also be a recommendation for domestic locations. So, whenever you’re tiling any bathroom, shower or other wet area, remember to apply a suitable proprietary tanking membrane system first.

By not following the BSI guidance, the consequences can be costly, not only in terms of your personal reputation but financially too. With the new standards in place, you could be as liable for repairs in domestic areas as you are for commercial locations; and not just for the tiled wet area, but in adjoining rooms as well.

Waterproofing is Quick and Easy with ARDEX WPC!

Fortunately, tanking a wet area doesn’t have to add much extra time, effort or cost. ARDEX WPC Rapid Drying Waterproof Protection Coating is easy to apply and allows tiling to commence after just 90 minutes! It even comes as a kit with a FREE roller sleeve and scrim tape for added convenience. To find out more about ARDEX WPC, and to watch a video of it in action, visit the product page here.