How to Finish an Exposed Foundation?
LESLIE: Jody in Delaware, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JODY: I actually have a problem with my foundation. It’s an exposed foundation; about 3 feet high around the whole footprint of the house is exposed. The cement-block foundation that had parging on it originally – and the parging was cracking, so it was recommended by a masonary contractor to put DRYLOK over it.
So, this is what I did. I put on – it’s a – they add color to the DRYLOK. So I put it over the whole foundation and it started to crack and peel and bubble.
TOM: Yeah, it didn’t adhere properly. First of all, isn’t DRYLOK usually an interior masonry paint, not an exterior masonry paint?
JODY: Well, this particular masonary (ph) guy told me that he’s actually used it on the bottom of swimming pools, so he thought that it would work. And when he saw it later, he said, “Wow. I’ve never seen it do that.”
TOM: Yeah. How about that? He just experimented with your house.
JODY: I did call the DRYLOK people, too, and talked to them.
JODY: And they told me to try to power-wash it, try scraping it. But it’s just become a huge mess, you know? I mean it peels in some places. Some places, it adhered.
TOM: Yeah, the problem is that now that you’ve got that on there, you’ve got to get it off because you can’t put any – you can’t put new stuff over the bad old stuff. It just will continue to peel.
JODY: Yeah. The problem is is that we are on filled-in marshland – is where the – and so, we’re on clay and sand. And the cement block, it sort of leaches up through there, so it’s always sort of damp coming up from the ground anyway.
TOM: Yeah. That’s what I was going to – that’s what I was kind of thinking. I was thinking that the block wall might have been wet when you applied it. It might not have been visibly wet but see, those block walls are hydroscopic. They absorb water really, really well. And so, if it’s on a moist situation, that water is going to draw up, get behind that paint. And nothing causes paint to peel faster than water.
So, unfortunately, at this stage, you’re going to have to strip that off.
JODY: Oh, my gosh. And we’re right on the water, you know what I mean? We’re on the bay. So I’m always worried about things that are not environmentally friendly.
TOM: The other thing that I think you probably could do – and this is a big job in and of itself, though – is you could have a mason attach a woven-wire mesh to that foundation and re-stucco it. And in that case, it could go right on top of the old, junky paint because you’re not really sticking to the foundation; you’re sticking to the mesh. So that’s another possibility.
JODY: I gotcha, yeah. Yeah. Because, I guess, in some places that was used before, underneath the parging.
TOM: Well, the parging is simply a stucco coat that goes on top of the block wall and it’s typical for the parging to crack. And usually, parging cracks along the lines of the masonry block.
JODY: Yep. That’s what it did.
TOM: And that’s not necessarily a defect. That’s pretty much just the way it goes with that stuff, especially if they don’t put it on thick enough.
So, I would consider, if you really want to have it to look like a traditional masonry foundation, I would consider having mesh put up there and then properly re-stuccoed. If not, you’re just going to have to peel that paint off any way you can. You would – I would – might take a look at some of the citrus-based paint strippers if you have some that’s really hard to get off.
JODY: Alright. Thank you so much.
TOM: Alright. Sorry I don’t have better news. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.