100 year old bick and motar foundation moisture

dbruhnOctober 29, 2009

Our farm house is a 100 years old and the basement was finished a couple years ago. The stairway leading down to the basement is right next to the foundation. Because the stairway was narrow the builder was unable to frame and drywall over it. Instead they put a compound over it and then painted it. Well, as time has passed the compound has started to bubble in a few places from a bit of moisture making its way through. We considered just bead boarding over it but the foundation wall is bowed so it's a no go. The wall is never wet to the touch so it's not a big deal but it's not very pretty to look at. Someone recommended glazing the wall and that should keep any moisture out. Was wondering if this is a good idea or if anyone else has any other ideas?



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I work in energy efficiency, and from my reading on the proper installation of basement insulation, your foundation needs to be able to dry to the inside. If you put beadboard or waterproofing right up against the foundation, the moisture gets trapped, leading to deterioration of the foundation. The place to deal with a foundation moisture problem is on the outside, with proper drainage.

Hopefully an expert can weigh in on the subject.

I live in earthquake country, so my first reaction to you post was "Replace the foundation!"

    Bookmark   October 29, 2009 at 7:26PM
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A stucco finish on this wall would allow moisture (water vapor) to travel in any direction without creating a bubbling paint situation like you now have. The amount of water vapor needed to ruin the paint is quite low- lower than is usually objectionable for comfort in your basement. Paint is delicate that way, and neither was the mud/compound moisture-resistant. The moisture causes problems when it gets trapped between the "source" and the "impermeable barrier".
We recently were using a interior stucco product on an old-house restoration project, but the name escapes me. I'll try to discern it on Monday; we have about 40 bags of it left over.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2009 at 6:50PM
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Agreed on that one Casey. But there are traditional stucco and the newer ones. We had a company travel in over seventy miles one way for a month, to do a traditional re-stucco on our 200 year old house. He mentioned not to use the newer stucco products common on the market, and I'm thinking he mentioned something like they were latex or some sort of polymer based. Do you think this would be an important issue where moisture retention is concerned?

    Bookmark   October 30, 2009 at 7:45PM
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link below to the stucco/plaster product I referred to. The Izonil is an unmodified product. It's also really hard. Our plasterer was not able to trowel it to a smooth polished surface, but applying lime paint from Virginia Lime Works smoothed it out so it looks like a plastered wall, but a little more porous. I bet a second coat of paint would solve that.

Here is a link that might be useful: Izonil

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 9:49PM
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