Balconies are a communal feature for a variety of styles of homes and strata units in WA. Given their exposure to the elements, many have ceramic or stone tile flooring.
Eventually, water will land on these balconies, and this water needs to be channeled off the balcony or into a drainage system. The water musn’t be allowed to ‘pond’ on the area.
Balconies may be located on a ground floor level of a dwelling, which may or may not overhang the natural ground level, or it could be on a 2nd floor, or it could be 18 floors up on a multi-level apartment building. Balconies are quite literally everywhere, and formed in a variety of shapes and sizes.
The majority of balconies are constructed either via a suspended or cantilevered concrete slab, or with a timber framing & with cement fibre sheeting. Factoring in the durability of tile and stones finishes, most balcony floors are covered in tiles of several descriptions. As with internal wet areas of a home or strataunit, the tile joints between these ceramic or stone tiles are generally filled with grout.
Given the concrete slab or sand/cement screed below the tile (which envelopes the rio bars) is a porous material, a waterproofing membrane must be laid beneath the tiles, so as to guarantee water can’t enter the concrete slab, and penetrate the steel, which can cause the steel to rust, and hence contribute to the development of spalling.
Forlornly, there are a significant number of issues associated with the incorrect construction, and or poor maintenance of balconies
Given the importance of removing water from the floor of tiled balconies, there is also the need to ensure water does not ‘pond’ on the balcony, therefore it’s important that the balcony floor levels fall away from the building off the balcony, or toward floor wastes.
It’s surprising how many balconies and balconies & terraces are constructed without floor wastes, and the fall of the installed tiles is actually toward the building, and not toward the balcony edge or waste.
Installing floor wastes is one bonus, but ensuring water flows toward those drains is definitely another story! There are specific requirements in relation to the required floor level falls on tiled surfaces to direct water off the balcony, or into the installed drains.
Regretfully, we investigate a large number of balconies where there is little or no fall in floor tiles toward installed wastes. Where water doesn’t fall toward drains, the potential is that the water will pond on the balcony surface, providing water the opportunity to progressively permeate through weak points on the surface, & into critical areas.
Given that walls and floors can expand and contract at different rates during temperature variations, it’s important that joins at the perimeter & right angle junctions, have an extra layer of protection through the application of flexible sealant at the joint.
If water manages to seep between the tiles or through cracks in the tiles the waterproofing membrane is designed to protect the slab from water ingress and the potential onset of concrete cancer.
Once again, we come across a large number of balconies where there is no waterproofing barrier or that barrier is defective and water that manages to escape the tiles and or grout will start to seep through the concrete slab through to the floor below.