Flooding – Time to Reconsider Plaster Choice?
Flood damage is costing homeowners, local authorities, and landlords hundreds of thousands of pounds a year in repair costs, despite the fact that specifying a more suitable plaster could provide a long-lasting solution for flood risk properties.
Given the flooding that affected homes and businesses across the UK in late 2015 and early 2016, remediation works will now be well underway. The construction industry must learn from previous occurrences and implement preventative solutions that reduce the potential damage of future flooding in houses and buildings where plaster is used. As evidenced time and time again by water damage, traditional gypsum plaster does not lend itself to a swift or economical clean-up after flooding as it has to be completely removed before it can be replaced.
Gypsum plaster absorbs and retains water, making it particularly unsuitable for flood risk properties as it offers almost no resistance. This type of plaster is subject to breakdown and will readily degrade if subjected to immersion in water, causing delamination, with up to one metre above floor level usually being the worst affected area.
Although gypsum plaster is suitable for certain applications, in flood risk properties it often becomes a burden due to the threat of its replacement in costly remediation works. This involves the lengthy process of removing the original plaster and allowing the walls to completely dry out before new plaster can be applied. Once damaged, there is no alternative other than the aforementioned process.
As outlined in the Environment Agency’s ‘What to do before, during and after a flood’ guide, preparing a building with a breathable, fast-drying renovating lime plaster, such as the products from Tarmac’s Limelite brand, will speed up the repair and finishing process by eliminating the need to completely replace the plaster each time flooding occurs. This type of plaster effectively controls damp passing through walls and provides a barrier against salt transfer. Being ‘breathable’ means that the plaster allows balanced moisture movement through the construction fabric and allows the substrate to dry naturally. In effect, renovating plaster is capable of withstanding recurring water ingress which can, in turn, reduce on-going repair costs, salting, mould growth and recurring damp problems.
When recovering from a flood, it is important for architects and contractors to consider specifying materials that will protect a building from the same extent of damage in the future. Plaster is a fundamental aspect of any building, and whilst guides such as that from the Environment Agency advocate lime renovating plaster, there is still a lack of awareness of its benefits among those working on flood risk properties. By specifying a plaster with breathable characteristics, structural damage caused by water can be reduced, making it easier and cheaper to clean up after a future flood, and helping residents to return to their homes as quickly and cost effectively as possible.
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