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Friday, January 26, 2024

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The right green coatings can water/wind proof a building while also breathe, not trapping harmful moisture.

Coatings properly defending buildings should breathe, having Moisture Vapor Transmission (MVT).

The preservation and restoration of all buildings, especially historic properties are endeavors that demand meticulous attention to detail, especially when it comes to safeguarding against the insidious effects of moisture.

This is especially true with historic buildings that may have what is known as “rising damp” or a wicking action due to the fact that when the structure was built there was no vapor barrier laid down to prevent this rising damp.

Building codes now include a ground vapor barrier before a building is constructed.

While conventional waterproofing methods may seem like an obvious choice, the need for breathable protectors becomes increasingly vital.

In this episode, I explain the importance of breathable green coatings, much like the ingenious design of the fabric Gore-Tex, as silent guardians that shield buildings from the elements while allowing them to breathe.

Breathable Protectors: Vital for Building Surfaces & Historic Restoration

One of the primary challenges faced in building maintenance, particularly in the context of structures, is the treat of moisture entrapment.

The seemingly innocuous act of sealing surfaces to prevent water and wind penetration can inadvertently create a hostile environment within the building envelope.

The related issues include decay, corrosion, structural weakening, and a reduction in thermal capacity, ultimately diminishing the structure's lifespan.

The important point of the matter lies in the fact that buildings, much like our own bodies, need to breathe.

The concept of breathability in structures revolves around outgassing and Moisture Vapor Transmission (MVT).

Simply put, it's about finding the delicate balance between keeping the elements out and allowing the structure to release trapped moisture.

The Perils of Trapped Moisture: Mold, Decay, and Structural Failure

Trapped moisture creates a breeding ground for mold, mildew, and bacteria.

As these microorganisms proliferate within the building materials, they not only compromise structural integrity but also pose health risks to occupants.

Over time, moisture within the walls leads to increasing deterioration, visible in the form of stains, mold growth, and structural weaknesses.

In extreme cases, excess moisture can lead to flaking, rot, corrosion, and surface failure, eventually culminating in a complete breakdown of the structure.

Additionally, surface water can weaken concrete, leading to dusting upon drying, eroding surfaces, and further damaging the structural integrity of buildings.

Balancing Act: Breathability in Building Materials

To draw a parallel, imagine wearing a plastic rainsuit.

The discomfort arises from the inability of moisture to escape, creating a stifling environment.

Similarly, buildings sealed with impermeable membranes and coatings that don't breathe may experience similar challenges.

That's where the importance of the right, breathable green coatings comes into play.

Breathability in buildings is measured by the water vapor transmission rate, determining how quickly vapor passes through materials.

The right green coatings, much like the technology behind Gore-Tex, provide an effective solution.

By allowing moisture to escape through microscopic pores, these coatings prevent the detrimental effects of trapped moisture, ensuring the longevity of the structure.

Green Coatings: The Gore-Tex for Buildings

The analogy to Gore-Tex is apt in understanding how breathable green coatings function.

Much like the fabric of Gore-Tex, these coatings feature pores that are larger than water vapor molecules, enabling moisture to evaporate while keeping the elements at bay.

In the realm of building restoration, this translates to a protective shield that not only preserves surfaces but also safeguards the occupants and the building itself.

As the need for energy-efficient building retrofits grows, so does the importance of addressing breathability and moisture control.

Increased airtightness necessitates controlled ventilation, making the right breathable green coatings a critical component in maintaining a healthy building environment.

Here are the bullet points:

•The right breathable green coatings are indispensable for building surfaces, particularly in historic restoration projects.

•Moisture entrapment can lead to decay, corrosion, structural weakening, and reduced thermal capacity.

•Trapped moisture fosters mold, mildew, and bacteria growth, affecting both structure and occupant health.

•Excess moisture can result in flaking, rot, corrosion, and surface failure, leading to structural breakdown.

•Balancing water and windproofing with breathability is crucial for sustainable building preservation.

•Breathability in buildings is measured by the water vapor transmission rate, emphasizing the need for effective solutions.

•The right green coatings act as the Gore-Tex for buildings, allowing moisture to escape while repelling external elements.

•As buildings strive for energy efficiency, the significance of breathable protectors becomes paramount.

To sum it up:

The silent protectors of buildings are not impenetrable fortresses but rather breathable shields that strike the delicate balance between protection and ventilation.

The implementation of the right green coatings becomes imperative, especially in the coating and restoration of all buildings, specifically historically significant ones, ensuring a harmonious coexistence of preservation and practicality.

“It has been said that, at the best, preservation engages the past in a conversation with the present over a mutual concern for the future” William Murtagh – Historian, First "Keeper of the Records" for the National Register of Historic Places.

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