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Construction Industry Wakes Up to New Flood-Resistant Building Materials

July 13, 2017 | Written by: Gary Bizek

Flooding is considered as the most destructive kind of natural disaster in many parts of the world. Climate change has been a key driving factor behind the increasing incidences and intensity of flooding in Canada and elsewhere. More builders are now focusing on usingbuilding materials which are resistant to flooding in areas with high risk of the event.

Flood Proofing Buildings

Floods can damage a building in a number of ways. This includes:

  • The depth of immersion
  • The duration of immersion
  • The speed of water
  • Debris carried by the flood

During flood, a building will experience forces from different directions. The result can be major structural damage, which may even render the building useless.

Builders follow two different approaches for flood proofing a building. These two approaches are:

  • Wet Flood Proofing: It is focused on making your building flood resilient. Openings and vents are created to allow water to enter and leave the building. This helps in minimizing hydrostatic pressure and preventing any risk of structural damage.
  • Dry Flood Proofing: It focuses on diverting flood water away or preventing it from entering the building using walls, seals and levees.

Using Flood-Resistant Building Materials

More and more builders now use building materials which are flood resilient. Some of the best materials that have been recognized for their capacity to retain structural integrity under immersion include the following:

  • Reinforced concrete
  • Face brick
  • Aluminium
  • Fiber cement sheet
  • Blockwork
  • Polystyrene
  • Stone
  • Vinyl
  • Rubber
  • Galvanized steel

On the other hand, there are many materials that have been identified for severe damages due to immersion. This includes particleboard, untreated timber, cork, plywood and linoleum.

When you use water-resistant materials, they can not only prevent damages they are also easier to clean and dry. There is increased awareness and focus on using building materials which can also withstand disinfectants, which are used as part of the post-cleaning and drying process.

Commonly Used Flood Resistant Materials

Some of the most commonly used flood resistant flooring materials include the following:

  • Concrete tile
  • Concrete
  • Clay, ceramic, rubber tile and terrazzo
  • Pressure-treated decay-resistant lumber

The commonly used flood-resistant materials for walls and ceiling include:

  • Concrete & Concrete block
  • Brick
  • Stone
  • Glass block
  • Clay tile
  • Pressure-treated decay-resistant lumber
  • Cement board
  • Pressure-treated plywood
  • Polyester epoxy paint
  • Closed-cell/foam insulation

Using metal cabinets and doors is also an effective way to prevent flooding damage.

Structural Systems

Another aspect of preventing or reducing flood damage is to construct specialized structural systems. The floors, walls and other structures are designed to be able to dry in at least one direction. There should be a way for moisture inside the floor or wall to escape so that the structure can dry completely. Builders are focusing on materials that can dry without getting damaged and also allow other components to dry.

Homeowners, builders and government are taking flood-resistant construction with more importance. This has led to the development of new and innovative building materials and processes to prevent and reduce flood damage. As flood events continue to rise, there is no other way but to be well prepared for the potential risks and invest in materials and techniques that can keep your buildings safe.