October 7, 2020 - 12:00pm

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Durability of Concrete Coatings and Water Repellents


Coatings and water repellents are used on concrete to seal out water, but often used wrong. From product selection to installation to maintenance, ignorance about coatings and repellents leads to countless premature failures; therefore, durability is a central factor in construction litigation. Liability stems from two primary sources: (1) unrealistic expectations of how long a coating or repellent should serve its intended purpose – its design life; and (2) mistakes that shorten its functional performance – its service life. To bridge this knowledge gap, this presentation will synthesize a practical understanding of coating and repellent durability based on theoretical behavior, observations from failure case studies, and research and test results from The Durability Lab, a research establishment at The University of Texas at Austin. The durability concepts that support an allegation of “premature failure” will be explained. Improving durability is also closely related to sustainability; preventing premature failure keeps building materials out of the landfill longer. Presenter: David H. Nicastro


HSW Justification:

Understanding the proper use of concrete coatings and water repellents can improve the health, safety and welfare of building Owners and their occupants by providing a more durable exterior cladding system.


Learning Objectives:

1. Recognize how to correctly use water repellents that can lead to more durable building exteriors.

2. Describe how to use water repellents to prevent failure, to better protect occupants and keep building materials out of the landfill longer.

3. Evaluate failure case studies to understand the risks to the building and its occupants when water repellents are not used correctly.

4. Assess how long a coating will last and how to avoid mistake that can be made that shorten the coatings functional performance.



David H. Nicastro, P.E., F.ASTM

Chief Executive Officer Building Diagnostics, Inc.

David H. Nicastro, P.E., F.ASTM, is a licensed professional engineer specializing in durability and failure causation theory. He analyzes existing buildings and designs remedies. He is the founder of Building Diagnostics and Engineering Diagnostics, which grew to be an Inc. 500 firm by 2000. He also founded The Durability Lab, a testing center housed at The University of Texas at Austin to study the durability of building components, identifying factors causing premature failure. Mr. Nicastro is the past chairman of ASTM Committee C24 on Building Seals and Sealants, and has published over 50 articles and books on durability and failure of building materials.

BEC: Austin is an interdisciplinary organization that promotes the exchange of information on building enclosures and related science specific to the climate of Central Texas.

Interdisciplinary:  architects, engineers, contractors, building owners, consultants, facility managers, code officials, educators, manufacturers, and those with a stake in building enclosure performance

Exchange of information:  discussion, training, education, outreach, and awareness

Building enclosures and related science:  energy-efficiency, moisture control, indoor air quality, longevity, and durability

BEC: Austin typically meets the first Wednesday of each month from 12-1pm.
2020 BEC: Austin Committee
Chair: Kayla Maines, AIA
Chair-Elect: Andrea Hellerman, AIA