As the seasons change and the rainy season raises its head, you may come to realise that an outside suspended area of a recent project was not sealed or waterproofed correctly. While a tile installation may be water resistant, particularly if an additive has been used in the tile adhesive and grout mix, it is not necessarily waterproof.

Installing a proper waterproofing system on exterior suspended areas before tiling takes place is therefore essential. This ensures the prevention of water leaking through the grout and adhesive, which can cause tile failure if it seeps into the substrate or lower levels. The result is water damage appearing on ceilings and walls of the levels below a balcony or terrace. It must be noted that this could also happen if the water outlet on the floor of the outside tile area is not draining properly, thereby flooding the balcony, or if an upstairs shower cubicle has not been waterproofed.

Other than water damage to ceilings and walls, natural stone tiles and even light-coloured ceramic tiles can change colour when the tile installation experiences moisture ingress from the surface of the installation. The best way of determining the root of the problem, is to consult a professional tiling contractor.

It is possible to waterproof and tile over existing tiles, provided the existing tiles are in good condition and firmly attached to the substrate, but ensure that the tiles are not cracked, loose or hollow-sounding, and that the level of the current floor allows for a height increase, especially at door entrances. However, if the waterproofing system has failed, the best solution is to remove the tiles and start the waterproofing and tiling process from scratch. It is advisable to sort out water damage as soon as possible, before leaks cause damp patches on the ceilings of rooms below.

For more information, visit www.tal.co.za.