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Structural Concrete: Is Simplicity the Key to Successful Waterproofing?

The Complexity Conundrum: Hobs, Setdowns, and Falls in Structural Concrete

I've recently come across a thought-provoking quote by Clyde Fitch: "Complexity creates a maze between you and success." This quote resonates strongly with me when considering the intricate surface profiles of structural slabs compared to the simplicity of a flat slab. While there are undeniable benefits to a complex structural profile, it's crucial to consider whether we are inadvertently increasing the list of potential issues that could lead to the failure of the waterproofing system.


The Benefits and Challenges of Structural Falls and Hobs

Incorporating hobs and structural falls ensures that wet areas can effectively contain and shed water to the drain, reducing the sole reliance on the waterproofing membrane for performance. However, achieving this level of precision requires a skill set that is often considered uncommon among concretors. The hectic nature of a concrete pour can further complicate the process, increasing the likelihood of errors and inconsistencies.



The Flat Slab Alternative: Building Falls in a Controlled Manner

An alternative approach worth considering is pouring a flat structural slab and subsequently building up the falls and upturns using carefully selected products in a more controlled manner. This method allows for greater precision and attention to detail, minimizing the potential for errors that could compromise the waterproofing system's integrity.

By utilizing topping products after the structure is complete, professionals can create the necessary falls and upturns with greater control and accuracy. This approach not only simplifies the initial structural concrete pour but also allows for a more focused effort on ensuring the proper slopes and drainage patterns are achieved.


Weighing the Options: Simplicity vs. Complexity

As waterproofing design professionals, it is our responsibility to carefully evaluate the trade-offs between the benefits of a complex structural profile and the potential risks associated with its execution. While hobs and structural falls offer inherent advantages, the skill required to achieve them consistently and accurately may not always be readily available.

On the other hand, the flat slab alternative, coupled with a controlled build-up of falls and upturns, provides a more manageable and reliable approach to ensuring effective water management. By simplifying the initial structural concrete pour and focusing on the precise creation of falls and upturns afterward, we can reduce the potential for errors and increase the likelihood of a successful waterproofing system.


The Path to Success: Choosing the Right Approach

Ultimately, the decision between a complex structural profile and a flat structural slab with controlled fall build-up depends on various factors, including the project's specific requirements, the skill level of the construction team, and the available resources. As professional consultants, our role is to assess these factors and recommend the approach that offers the best balance of effectiveness, reliability, and practicality.

By carefully considering the potential challenges and benefits of each approach, we can guide our clients towards a waterproofing solution that not only meets their needs but also minimizes the risk of failure. In the end, the path to success in waterproofing may lie in embracing simplicity and control, ensuring that the maze between us and a successful outcome is as straightforward as possible.


Written by: David Previte





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