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GrandmaStormy 02-28-2009 12:54 AM

Need help with very ugly basement walls
I have an 85 year-old 2-story home. I'm in the process of making my basement dry(er) and less depressing. I'm not doing a complete remodel - I just can't stand doing laundry in a damp ugly basement anymore. The present floor is concrete - walls are cinder block.
The walls have weep holes allowing seepage to flow into troughs that lead to a floor drain.

I've already worked on rerouting the flow of water outside - repaired downspouts, redirected flow from downspouts - regraded several areas for better slope away from foundation - replaced old sidewalks that used to slant toward house and pooled water near house in several areas (all water that lands on the sidewalks now flows away from the house).

My concrete contractor is in the process of installing an interior french drain and changing the floor drain to a sump pit/floor drain with the washer stand pipe flowing to that drain. He is also raising the entire floor by 2 inches. (Yes, I have plenty of head room.) He is using a laser to make sure that the grade is right, and is installing 4" floor drains (tied to the french drain) on each wall and in the old coal room under the front porch.

After he is finished, my work begins. The walls, although sound, are very ugly. Not only are they stained, previous owners have experimented with all kinds of paints, sealers, coatings, etc. Over the years, I have scraped and chipped some of the stuff off of the walls, however, there is still lots of stuff there. For example - there is black tar-like stuff painted on the bottom one foot of the walls - then gray paint over that that goes up about 3 feet. Most of that gray paint has come off of the black sealer stuff, but the gray paint is still on most of the part that wasn't painted with the black stuff first. Someone also painted some of the walls with regular paint of some kind. Then there are 2 or 3 areas where some kind of thicker stuff was put on the walls - some of it is fairly hard and in fair condition, but some is crumbling like chalk. I've chipped away on that stuff for years.

I've googled until I'm blue in the face and can't find a product that will cover all of these surfaces once I've gotten rid of the crumbling and pealing stuff. Does anyone have any suggestions? Would it help if I posted pictures?

I really would like to do this myself. I used to own a lawn mowing service, and did 16 lawns by myself, including maintainance of bushes, hedges, and trees. I'm not afraid of hard work.

Sorry for the long post, but I've seen most posts like this get responses with - "You have to solve the water problems first" and I wanted you to know I am doing that. :yes:

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!


Attitude is the paint that colors our lives.

Bob Mariani 02-28-2009 07:06 AM

Painting over damp walls started your problem. Then someone used dryloc which is the best to use, but will not work over a painted surface, so this made your wall even worse. Only thing you can do is epoxy paint over it all. If it is still wet you need to fix this first with a skim coat of dryloc cement. (a hydraulic cement). After this and the new drainage system, use a dehumidifier to control humidity and you should have a nice area.

buletbob 02-28-2009 07:19 AM

You could have the walls sandblasted and then once your water problem is fixed install your epoxy or drylock paint. BOB.

GrandmaStormy 02-28-2009 06:18 PM

Thanks for the advice. Any other ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Since this whole project started, I've been a googling fool!

I found a product that sound interesting. It's Shercrete Flexible Concrete Waterproofer by Sherwin Williams. When I read the specs, it sound like I could paint this stuff over my walls as long as I get rid of anything that isn't bonded well. Possibly using a primer first. - I was considering Zinsser BullsEye.

Is anyone familiar with these products? I may be totally off track, so don't laugh too hard. Do I sound like a typical DIYer gone google crazy? :thumbup:

I've even looked into Soda blasting. (another google find) I can't imagine the mess of using a sandblaster in my basement. There aren't any rentals available, but there is a soda blasting company in my city that was featured in a local magazine.

When you read the product specs on most basement wall waterproofing products they seem to be for newer structures that have bare block or concrete walls. Most homes over 30 years old have something painted on the walls - usually the wrong thing. :(

I have a few weeks to make my decisions. I hope I make the right one.


Attitude is the paint that colors our lives.

jogr 03-03-2009 04:49 PM

After all the water issues are solved frame in a new wall in front of the ugly concrete. This will allow you to add insulation and give you a very pleasant place to do laundry.

Basement Sealer 03-05-2009 02:43 PM

I run into these all the time and removing all the paint is a big can of worms. Touching up with a coating,( I only use Hydro-Seal 75 water base epoxy) after a good surface preparation, would be the easiest way out. I suggest getting off as much of the paint, as you can especially where it is failing so you can go in with a small amount of Hydro-Seal 75 water based epoxy coating and stop the seepage or moisture in those spots. That will put more pressure on the existing coating in other areas forcing it off for another repair at a later time.

The sandblasting is the right way to remove existing coatings but is not practical when all you are trying to do is cover up ugly walls. The problem areas where the paint has peeled or is peeling should be your main focus. Just be prepare to touch up every once in a while when some of the existing paint peels.

To remove the failing coating work around peeling and bubbling areas with a putty knife. Then wash any exposed concrete or concrete block with TSP, and neutrallize with clean water before applying Hydro-Seal 75 in those spots. Where the other coating is not failing and is sound I would leave it alone or coat over it with Hydro-Seal 75, so the color matches and wall looks appealing. Be sure to wash all areas, including other paint, and neutrallize before applying coating. You may uncover some cracks or holes where water or moisture is coming through. You can mix Portland Cement or even Hydraulic Cement into the Hydro-Seal 75 and skim over the cracks with that before coating application. Good luck!

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