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Very ugly basement walls - advice please!

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  • Very ugly basement walls - advice please!

    I'm in the process of having an interior french drain installed in my ugly 85 year-old basement and the floor is being raised with 2 inches of concrete. There are already weep holes in the block walls that used to work with a surface channel that had been dug out of the perimeter of the concrete floor. The concrete contractor is installing two floor drains on each wall, a floor drain in the coal room under the front porch, a new sump pit that will also be the main drain to the sewer line. - the old floor drain will be removed. There will also be a stand pipe for the washer. I'm not finishing the walls with drywall because it just isn't in my budget, and it is not cost effective in my neighborhood. I'm just trying to make the basement dry(er) and make it look less depressing.

    The walls are very sound - no cracks, bulges or bad mortar below grade - but very ugly, because previous owners have tried several different products to stop the water problems. There is some crumbled mortar around the windows that needs to be removed and patched. The walls have a combination of products on them in different areas. One wall has what looks like a ThoroSeal type of product - fery thick and hard, but stained. The lower foot of all of the walls has a black tar-like sealer on them. Some of the walls have gray paint on the next 2 feet above the black stuff. That is in good shape in most areas. There are large areas that are bare above the gray paint. There are 2 walls, by the stairs that were painted - it could be drylock or it could be some regular paint. That paint is peeling and chalking off.

    My problem is finding a product that will cover all of these different products. I know I have to scrape and or sand any loose or crumbling material off of the walls. But then I don't know what to use to put a new surface on them. I've googled forever and just get more confused. Most products are only for bare concrete or bare blocks. I did find one product that wasn't so restrictive - it's called SherCrete by Sherwin Williams. Can I use that or do you have other suggestions? I'm handy with most DIY projects, such as mudding and patching. I want to do this myself.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I have pictures, but I don't know how to post them.


    Attitude is the paint that colors our world.

  • #2
    Understand - but more info and questions:

    I truly can't afford the wall coverings you are recommending and didn't expect to make this basement a living area or recreation room. I know that would be the best, but I'm just a little old grandma/teacher . I'm just trying to make it look clean and less depressing - but I don''t want to make things worse - or have my work fall apart in a year or two.

    You mentioned that I shouldn't put anything on the walls that seals it completely. I understand your explanation. That's why, after much research I was considering the SherCrete or a layer of something like portland cement mixed with sand to trowel over the wall.

    According to their data sheet, Sherwin-Williams claims that the SherCrete Flexible Concrete Waterproofer is "breathable". The data sheet shows a water vapor permeability of 10.6 perms. I had no idea what that meant, so - again, I googled for info. A perm measures the number of grains of water vapor that permeates a square foot of material.

    Check this out! - You concrete people might be interested in this research:
    I found a patent application abstract for a soundproofing product developed because of the dangers of mold in soundproofed situations, such as hospitals, recording studios, music practice rooms, etc. that have concrete or concrete block walls. The goal was to find a soundproofing material that allowed for water vapor to permeate and be released into the air to prevent mold. (I guess there is a real problem with mold when you soundproof a room.) Their goal was 5 perms. Shercrete is 10.6 perms. The problem is - I don't know the perm rate needed for the average old basement. I wonder if that is good enough to prevent the deterioration of the concrete that you described.

    Sherwin-Williams also says it is made of a combination of acrylic resin and mineral aggregates - which, according to them, allows for the flexibility necessary to prevent cracking and flaking from expanding, contracting, and movement of the original surface.

    All of this sound logical and even scientific. I just don't know if it's real! You know - is this just BS? Or - does this stuff work?
    Last edited by GrandmaStormy; 03-03-2009, 12:21 AM.