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Do It Yourself: Waterproofing paint can stop moisture seepage

Q. When there is heavy rain, moisture seeps through the concrete-block walls of my basement. Will waterproofing paint stop this?

A. Waterproofing paint will often stop or reduce seepage through basement walls. UGL’s Drylok is a widely sold water-proofer used by many professionals and do-it-yourselfers, and I have used it with good results.

There are several types of Drylok, including latex and oil-based versions, and a “designer” product that gives a speckled finish and is said to be excellent for hiding defects in patched walls.

I recommend one of the latex Dryloks. The oil-based version has a very strong odor and requires good ventilation if used indoors.

UGL has an informative Internet site at that describes each of the waterproofing paints in detail and also has information on companion products, including Fast Plug, a fast-setting hydraulic cement that should be used to patch cracks or holes before painting.

There are several important rules for using waterproofing paint. It should not be used on floors and will not stop floor seepage or leaks. Walls should be clean and free of old paint, efflorescence (powdering), mold and other contaminants.

Two coats work best. The first should be applied with a brush, working it well into pores of the masonry, and a roller or pad can be used for the second coat.

Waterproofing paints like Drylok contain cement that is deposited on the wall to help form the waterproof barrier. The paint can also greatly improve the appearance of bare basement walls.

Before using any waterproofing paint, follow the basic rule for using any paint: read the directions and cautions on the label.

Q. The concrete walk around my house has some cracks, up to about 1/2-inch wide, which I have repaired in the past with concrete caulk. The caulk only lasts a few years before it shrinks and cracks. I’d like to repair the cracks and paint the surface to get a nice, smooth appearance. How do I do that?

A. It is unlikely that you will be able to paint without the patches being visible. One reason for this is that the texture of the patching material won’t closely match that of the surrounding concrete. Another reason is that the patches will probably not be perfectly smooth and level with the rest of the surface.

I don’t think there is much you can do about either of these problems in a patch-and-paint job. You might partly solve the texture problem by mixing a little sand with the patching material, and you can help smooth the surface by scraping off excess with a putty knife and cleaning up the edges. But the patches will probably still show through much like scars on the skin.

It is also not unusual for concrete patches to fail after a few years. When it happens, there is little you can do except clean out the failed patching material, patch again and touch up with fresh paint.

Q. My colored vinyl shutters are 15 years old and have lost most of their color. I want to paint them. Can you help?

A. Colored vinyl building products, including siding, will often fade in time, but the fading is usually minor. Your best bet is to remove the shutters, spread them on your lawn and clean them thoroughly.

Pressure-washing is best, but you can also make a strong solution of household cleaner such as Mr. Clean or Top Job and scrub with a long-handled scrub brush. Rinse well and let the shutters dry.

Spray painting is best for irregular surfaces like shutters. A good choice, though it might be somewhat pricey if you have a lot of shutters, is Rust-Oleum’s Universal, an all-surface paint sold in aerosol spray cans. This paint sticks well to plastic and doesn’t need a primer if you scuff glossy surfaces lightly with sandpaper.

If you want to use an airless paint sprayer, start with a primer suitable for vinyl (Bulls Eye 1-2-3 or Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Plus are possible choices) and finish with an acrylic paint.

Questions and comments should be emailed to Gene Austin at Send regular mail to 1730 Blue Bell Pike, Blue Bell, PA 19422.