Insulation Estimating and Waterproofing Guide for Insulation Estimators

The whole process of insulation estimating and waterproofing estimating is quite a task for both the contractors and insulation estimators along with the damp proofing estimating. Similar to the fireproofing of a building, it is important to make it waterproof as well in order to avoid rust and decay of the steel structures as well as the building material. Water can seep through the foundations and destroy the structure. Vapor barrier insulation is one of the important steps in this regard. Various types of sealants and caulks are used in order to provide an air barrier for the buildings. Under the master format, waterproofing is part of Division 7, which also includes thermal insulation. Here in this article, we are going to discuss every important detail related to the material information for water and dampproofing as well as the waterproofing techniques and insulation estimating to provide information for both the contractors and the insulation estimators. Before jumping to the details, it is important to draw a basic understanding of what is meant by waterproofing and dampproofing and the difference between these two how air vapor barrier estimating and damp proofing estimating work.

What is waterproofing and water proofing estimating?

waterproofing and waterproofing estimating

Waterproofing indicates the process of making a structure waterproof or water-resistant in order to resist the seepage of water. It resists the penetration of water through objects and is ideal for underwater environments. Moisture Vapor transmission rate refers to the permeation of water vapors through the object.  

Waterproofing estimating refers to the process of estimation for making something waterproof. This is in terms of both costs as well as the material takeoff list. This type of insulation estimating helps the contractors as well the engineers to have a better perspective of scenarios and conditions and they can avail better insulation estimating services.

There is another term that is used equivalent to waterproofing and that is dampproofing. While both terms are used alternatively, both have different concepts and purposes. This insulation covers both these aspects, but it is important to draw a difference between the two for material takeoffs.

Difference between waterproofing and dampproofing

The difference between waterproofing and damp proofing is quite evident from the terms. Where the former deals with the penetration of water later refer to the resistance to humidity and dampness. Humidity is caused by the heat and water combination that seeps easily through building structures and makes it more prone to damage. Dampproof membranes are a common dampproofing material for building structures and are important to be included in the material takeoff lists for air vapor barrier estimating. There are several other concepts when discussing waterproofing of buildings and structures. Some of them include flashing and house wraps. Both are used in the context of waterproofing the building structure. Damp proofing estimating is concerned with the dampproofing of the structure and enlist the items required for it.

The concept of flashing and house wrap:

Flashing refers to the materials that are installed to prevent the passage of water from a joint or a creek. It is part of the insulation. Many metal materials are used for this purpose. Flashing is done to decrease water penetration from windows, walls, vents, chimneys, etc. It helps in avoiding the mold problem and makes the building more resistant to early weather changes.

House wraps are the synthetic materials that are used to protect the building. These moisture barriers are part of the insulation. These allow vapors to exit from the building while stopping moisture from entering. Hence, these house warps serve the dual purpose of protection. It is an important concept while undertaking insulation estimating services.

[How much of the flashing material do I need for my attic?]

Purpose of waterproof and damp poof sealants:

In order to draw accurate estimates for waterproofing estimating and material takeoff list, the contractors and engineers must be aware of the purpose of waterproofing and dampproofing. There are different types of sealants, moisture barriers are used and each has a specific purpose.  Vapor barrier installations consist of different barriers tapes and air barriers. It is important to know the purpose of use for these materials while doing airvapor barrier estimating so that they can prove to be more useful in protecting the building from decays as a result of water exposure.

  • Use of sealants and caulking for blocking the passage of fluids through the surface:

Sealants and caulks serve as a blockage for different surfaces. As the name depicts, sealants seal the surfaces and top structures. This serves as both moisture barriers and fire barriers.  Caulking sealants have multiple functions to perform. For example, these fill the gaps between the materials, which makes them a barrier, these serve the purpose through the physical properties. They are reliable and simple to use for various purposes which makes them an easy choice. Different types of sealants are used based on their properties. These include silicone, polysulfide, and Silane-modified Polymers or simply known as SMPs. While listing the material takeoffs in damp proofing estimating, all the types of useful sealants are included as well.

  • Concrete sealants for surface damage, corrosion, and staining:

As is evident from the name, these types of sealants server the purpose of saving concrete from corrosion, staining, and surface damage. These sealants work in two ways, these fill up the pores in the concrete or they reduce the absorption of water to the surface. Either way, they act as a vapor retarder. There are multiple types of concrete sealers. Mainly these are characterized as the topical sealers and penetrating sealers. Both have the functionality of protecting the concrete surface from staining and chemical reactions. Acrylic resins, silane, and silicates are commonly used as concrete sealers.

  • Vapor barriers for resisting the diffusion of moisture through the walls:

The materials used for dampproofing are referred to as moisture barriers.  These materials are characterized based on MVTR in terms of water permeability. For example, oil-based paints are water-impermeable with an MVTR of ≤ 1 US perm. Whereas, latex-based paints are semi-permeable with an MVTR of 1-10 US perm. Cellulose insulations are permeable with an MVTR of >10 US perm. These retarders are generally available in the form of coatings or membranes. These include aluminum foil, coal tar pitch, or metalized film. While doing vapor barrier estimating, MVTR is an important factor that is considered.

  • Crawl space vapor barrier for controlling air leakage and mold-related problems:

This refers to the barriers that protect the crawl space air from moisture or water evaporation. The barrier insulation coupled with the waterproofing system can expel the water from the crawl space. If the water vapors stay in the crawl space for too long, these can result in the production of mold coupled with air leakage. The mold can seriously damage the building structure and makes it prone to shock. Air barriers can also help in this regard. By controlling the leakage of air, moisture problems can be addressed. Polyethylene vapor barriers are mostly used for fulfilling the purpose. Many modern buildings have a system of air barriers.

What needs to be waterproofed: A blueprint for waterproofing estimating and insulation estimating services:  

A blueprint for waterproofing estimating and insulation estimating services

This estimating requires a clear and detailed map of what needs to be waterproofed. Material takeoff lists are generated while keeping in mind the need for waterproofing for various building structures as well as building materials such as concrete, steel structures, columns, and beams, etc. These use different types of moisture barriers and hence the quantity and cost vary from structure to structure. Air vapor barriers estimating requires a detailed account of where and how the air barriers are being installed. In this section, we are going to draw a detailed account of what needs to be waterproofed in the construction sector, and while constructing a building.

[How do I calculate my insulation needs?]

Roofs and ceilings

It is evident that roofs and sealing require waterproofing as these are most exposed to the direct water and moisture contact. Water and moisture can absorb through the ceilings and can cause a mold problem or corrosion and rusting when combined with the air particles. Hence, it is important o waterproof the ceilings and roofs. Dampproofing estimating is done for roofs and ceilings as well. There are various types of waterproof membranes that are used for this purpose including felt tar. Bituminous waterproofing such as EPDM rubber or Hypalon is also a popular and effective way to waterproof your roof and ceilings. Using this waterproofing method can eliminate the risk of collapse. Roof shingles are also used for the construction roof of the houses or building units and hence need waterproofing as well. Oil-based or water-based waterproofing materials are best and serve the purpose. Acrylic formulas are used to seal the cracks and bond the shingles together. Insulation estimating services include the need and cost for making roof shingles waterproofed.


Being on the top, attics are more exposed to moisture and humidity and are more prone to damage. Serious damage to the attics can result in the collapse of the complete building structure. Corrosion of the supporting columns and staining of the wood can make the structure weak. Flashing and sealants are used in order to make the attic waterproof. Blow-in insulation or spray polyurethane foam is done to the walls of the attic. This expands upon application and hence makes and affective air barrier. Since this is an effective waterproofing technique, insulation estimating revolves around the idea and the cost.

[What does it cost to insulate an attic?]


Similar to roofs and ceilings, walls are also prone to corrosion and damage due to the water and damping. The exterior walls as well as the interior walls require waterproofing. Concrete walls are also prone to damage due to water and vapors. This can make the overall structure weak and hence the reliability reduces. Concrete walls can be fireproofed using the concrete sealants. Membrane waterproofing and silicone sealants are also used to make the walls waterproof. It is important to have a vapor barrier basement in order to resist the upward flow of moisture to the other walls of the building unit.


Siding is not completely water-resistant without the additional materials. Water leakage to the sidings can easily cause a wall to rot. It can also cause staining and results in the softness of the construction material. Waterproofing a siding requires the sealing of small cracks and gaps. Vinyl or acrylic latex caulk is mainly used for this purpose. Air vapor barrier estimating consists of the material needs for sidings as well as these are important and can cause serious damage.


Waterproofing of foundation requires the knowledge of multiple products and techniques. In case of exposure to water and moisture, a foundation can become weak and can result in the breaking of the floor or collapsing of the whole structure. Since the chances of contact with underwater reserves or rainwater are high, foundation dampproofing requires a membrane to protect the concrete. These also require the proper water drainage mat. 

Tanking and waterproofing of underground structures

Tanking and waterproofing of underground structures

Tanking refers to the waterproofing that is used where the structure is going to have long and periodic contact with water. The hydrostatic pressure caused can result in the erosion of the membrane. Being underwater surface for a long time can prove to be fatal for the structure and hence requires careful estimation of waterproofing. The dampproof membrane is used mainly for these types of structures. The polythene DPM is used under the slab.

Rooftop decks and balconies

In case of a failure of waterproofing of decks, the water damage to the buildings increases. The leading cause of failure is identified as the constant movement of plywood that causes stress on the membrane and ultimately results in the failure of the system. Waterproofing of decks and balconies is a complex area and requires specialized measures and efforts. It requires proper flashing details as well as the proper construction materials along with the dampproofing membrane.

[How many sq ft do a bag of insulation covers?]

Wires and electrical trays

Wire and electrical trays also require waterproofing. As the water vapors, cause sparks long the wires and hence can result in a greater damage-causing short circuit or fire. Waterproofing estimating includes the estimates for waterproofing or damp proof coursing of wire and cable trays in the building. Vinyl or latex-based sealants can be used for wire wrappings in order to make it damp-proof.


The house as a whole unit requires waterproofing measures but bathrooms are what require more efforts in this regard. Continuous contact with the water and humidity can cause problems in terms of molds and corrosion and can destroy the complete housing unit. It can also cause air quality issues and hence require waterproofing.

Pipes and pipelines

Why is it important to have waterproofed pipes and pipelines? The answer lies in the fact that the contact of iron with water combined with air and humidity can cause rusting and corrosion of the structure. This reduces the lifespan of pipes. The pipe penetrations can cause a lot of trouble. It is important to seal the gaps that allow air to pass through it. Liquid membrane is the most used technique for waterproofing of bathrooms these days. These are flexible and easy to install.

Beams and columns

Similar to other units in a building, beams and columns also require waterproofing as these are also prone to damage inflicted by the water seepage through concrete. These need materials and add on products other than cement, sand, and stone.

These are the main areas that are considered while generating a material takeoff list.

Insulation estimators have to undertake the requirements in the specified areas in order to provide quantified estimates for the waterproofing of a construction project. Since these insulation estimating services require different approaches and material information for waterproofing, we also have to dive deep into the different types of waterproofing. Different approaches are used based on the types of sealants and moisture barrier installations.

Let’s have a look at different types of waterproofing systems.

Types of waterproofing system:

Different types of waterproofing systems are used in order to provide waterproofing. The usability of these systems depends on the nature of the project. The details of these systems are discussed below:

Hydrophilic systems of waterproofing:

This system uses the technique of crystallization. It works by replacing the water in the concrete with the crystals that are insoluble in nature. These crystals act as barriers and prevent moisture from seeping into the concrete walls. Hydrophilic systems include ionic groups that contain oxygen or nitrogen atoms. These mainly act as the concrete moisture barriers and require caution for installation. Starch is an example.

Hydrophobic systems of waterproofing:

These types of systems use concrete sealers or fatty acids in order to seal the pore in the concrete walls or concrete making it damp proof. This typically includes the nonpolar molecules that repel the water molecules. These include oil fats and greasy elements.

Bituminous waterproofing

This type of waterproofing is used to build a damp proof protective coating for structures. The bitumen paint results in the taint free and odorless film. Hence, it can also be used for water tanks. This is usually long-lasting when applied to less porous surfaces.


There are several ways to accomplish dampproofing which covers several types of materials. A DPC acts as a barrier to contain the phenomenon of rising damp. DMP prevents moisture transmission. Similarly, cavity wall construction separates the internal walls from the external walls.

Positive-side waterproofing

Positive-side waterproofing refers to the prevention of water entering the wall by producing a moisture barrier on the side of applied hydrostatic pressure. This refers to both external and internal walls in different scenarios and cases. These are applied both above and below the ground.

This type of waterproofing has multiple options like Fluid applied membranes, Sheet systems, Hybrid systems, Bentonite clay.

Negative-side waterproofing

This type of waterproofing is opposite to the positive side waterproofing. That is to say, it protects the side that is the opposite of applied hydrostatic pressure. For example the inside of a fountain wall. The water doesn’t directly affect the material as it is redirected. Cementitious systems, Acrylic, latex, or crystalline additives that penetrate the surface in order to act as a moisture barrier.

Mechanical seal

In order to prevent leakage from the openings or joints, mechanical seals are used. It forms a barrier that protects the surfaces against the contamination. The strength of the seal depends on the strength and adhesion of the sealants and caulks.

Mechanical seals have different types and nature and are used for different purposes. A detailed account of various sealants is given below;

There are adhesive and sealants that have varying properties. Sealants have lower strengths as compared to adhesives. They must be flexible depending on the multiple thermal properties if the substrates.  Adhesives, which are used to close small openings, have high strength and prevent the airflow as well as the moisture absorption.

Also, the Non-reactive sealants such as sealing tapes, sealing putty, sealing profiles don’t have a curing behavior. These are easy to apply but fluctuate in terms of flexibility. These may require a change of material after some time of use.  The vapor barrier tape disrupts the supply of moisture and saves the structure from erosion. The air vapor barrier estimating undertakes these requirements for seals and provides the quantified estimates for better usability.

Chemically reactive sealants have a curing property and require expertise for applying. These may need a more careful approach and a complete knowledge of chemical chain reactions. Insulation estimators as well the engineers and contractors must know the types and prerequisites needed for installation. As these materials have varying costs, thus are included deliberately in waterproofing estimating.  Examples of these types of sealants are Silicon, polyurethane, polysulfide, SMP, etc.

[How much of the mechanical seals are required for insulating a whole unit?]

Topical sealers

These are more like surface coatings and are not absorbed into the surface or pores of the materials. Hence, a moisture barrier is formed by reacting with the molecules of the surface. This type of sealer does not affect the natural appearance of the material surface. Acrylic concrete sealer is a type of topical sealer. Epoxy concrete coatings are also an example.

Penetrating sealants:

These types of sealants penetrate through the surface of the material and form a chemical barrier for moisture protection. These are also called impregnator sealers. An example of this is the 511 impregnator penetrating sealer.

These are the main types of sealants that are used for waterproofing of building structures and units. Insulation estimators browse through these types according to the nature of requirements and provide estimates for waterproofing estimating.

Markets of waterproofing:

The process of waterproofing is used in the most important sectors such as Residential, industrial and commercial sectors. The application of waterproofing in these sectors are of immense importance and requires a careful and elaborate knowledge of techniques and materials. Insulation estimators require multiple information in all these sectors in order to provide estimates. Since the needs for waterproofing are different in these sectors, this estimating is also dynamic.


Waterproofing is required in industrial construction as well. Mechanical insulation coupled with moisture protection is required and measures are taken to ensure this protection. This includes the waterproofing and damp proofing of equipment, cable trays, and duct vents through sealants and caulk. This is done through penetrating sealants as well as the adhesives. The parts of buildings that are most focused on in the industries are the barriers for basements. Ceilings and walls are waterproofed through concrete moisture barrier. Mechanical as well as topical sealers are used widely in the industry. Waterproofing is done through different processes, types, and materials. It is also done to increase the mechanical strength of the structure. Corrosion of substructures can affect the strength, which makes it weaker, and in case of any hazard or even slight damage increase, the structure is likely to fail. Air sealing and waterproof spray foam are necessary for the waterproofing of industrial structures. The massive scope of waterproofing in the industrial sector helps the insulation estimators with a clear waterproofing estimating.


In commercial sectors, waterproofing techniques are applied to the structural steels that make the basic architecture of the building as walls the concrete that is used for building. Since the exposure to the public is greater here, structural steel must be damp proof in order to ensure the strength. For maintaining the integrity of the steel, a number of insulation measures are practiced. Structural steel is encased in concrete, which is then coated with concrete sealants and seal coats. This reduces the flow of moisture and air to the steel and concrete and prevents the possibility of chemical reactions leading to rusting and corrosion. Wood sealers, window sealant, grout sealer, and vacuum seal bags are also widely used in the commercial sector.  Insulation estimators provide the estimates of materials to be used for beam and ceilings. These estimators are aware of the material takeoffs in these sectors and hence provide the quantifiable waterproofing estimating.

[How do I calculate my insulation needs for a commercial unit calculator?]


While building houses, water penetration is given a due amount of attention as it can ruin the house structure completely. The main parts that require this attention are kitchen, bathrooms, and basements of the houses. Water sealants are used for producing a barrier for the pipes and vents n the whole house and particularly in the basement. Along with this, damp proofing membrane is also for waterproofing the roofs and ceilings of the houses. Walls and sidings require the sealing of cracks and gaps through caulking and vinyl latex. Foundation damp-proofing is also a priority and hence concrete sealants are used for the purpose. Coatings of topical sealers are also applied just like paint and are good for waterproofing of the houses.

These are all the important details related to the waterproofing, waterproofing estimating, division 7 estimating, and air vapor barrier estimating. Quantifiable insulation estimating can only be done if the insulation estimators, contractors, and engineers have a sound knowledge of types and categories of sealants and moisture barriers. This is important to know in order to build a completely waterproof structure.

12 replies
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