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House waterproofing: Materials used and the costs involved


Lack of proper waterproofing for wet areas in your home can lead to severe property damage brought about by water seepage and dampness. Read our guide which covers the different waterproofing materials available, the cost to waterproof your home and tips on choosing the best waterproofing contractors.


Imagine this – you have been hearing a dripping sound hitting the inside of your plaster ceiling for a while now. But you ignore it because how much damage can some water cause, anyway? Well over time, the walls and ceiling start to turn brown and the paint begins to bubble. This is what happens when your home waterproofing has broken down.

Waterproofing plays an essential part in any household. It prevents water from seeping into the surfaces of your home and causing major problems like mould growth and structural damage to your property. If you live in a strata property, proper waterproof components are essential to prevent water leakage into the unit below.

Which areas do you need to waterproof? 

There are multiple areas within a house that require waterproofing – the most vital ones being bathrooms, roofs or terraces, water tanks, kitchens, balconies, and swimming pools/ponds.

Windows require waterproofing too but these are achieved using seals around the windows themselves, which will not be discussed here. Instead, we will focus on waterproofing methods that are applied to surfaces that come into contact with water. These are divided into two categories:

  • exposed systems, which are directly exposed to the elements
  • non-exposed systems that are generally concealed from exposure after the application is finished.

How to tell if waterproofing is required?

The most obvious sign is when your ceiling starts dripping during a rainstorm. After a while, there will be a musty odour around the house and/or mouldy and brown coloured patches on the walls or the floors where the leakage is occurring.

If left untreated, these water seepages can cause further damage such as cracked floors or walls as well as blistering or peeling paint. The constant moisture can even cause your metal furniture or windows and hardware to start rusting.

READ: Waterproofing wet internal areas in your house: What you need to know

What are the different types of waterproofing for your roof and floors?

1. Cementitious waterproofing

Used in: kitchen floor, shower stall, bathroom floor

This method is the most basic waterproofing technique, where cement is used to create a solid water-resistant layer. Cement is mixed with an acrylic additive to create a sturdier, durable base. The cement is then applied as a thick layer and left to dry and harden.

Since it’s made of cement, the waterproofing layer does not expand or contract under heat exposure. This technique is usually applied in internal areas of a house. For instance, cement waterproofing is usually done in your bathroom before the tiles are laid.

2. Elastomeric Waterproofing Coating

Used in: Rooftops, house porches, terraces, large surface areas (factories or warehouses)

Instead of using a specially mixed cement to create the waterproofing barrier, a special rubbery liquid is used for elastomeric waterproofing. After applying a coat or two, it cures into a thin rubber waterproof membrane. And unlike cement, this layer is stretchable. This is important when used as outdoor waterproofing, as it can elongate up to 280% in harsh sunlight.

Roof waterproofing. © Source: RNS Waterproofing

The liquid can be rolled on, troweled, or sprayed on. This method is most suitable for waterproofing roofs.

3. Bituminous waterproofing coating

Used in: Rooftops, house porches, toilet, kitchen, concrete surfaces

Bitumen is the main material used to pave roads and is also known as asphalt.  However, it can also be used for waterproofing as bitumen is highly hydrophobic, where they tend to repel or at the very least don’t mix well with water. Bitumen waterproofing is known to be flexible due to the polymer grade and fibre reinforcements.

This black liquid is usually applied like paint, where it is spread onto a surface. It isn’t suitable for sunlight exposure as it turns brittle under heat. Hence, if used on a rooftop, the bitumen layer needs to be covered by another protective layer such as cement.

4. Bituminous waterproof membrane

Used in: Rooftops, floors of underground structures

This exposed form of waterproofing comes in a sheet and is rolled out onto the surface. It is most suitable for roofing and is usually used for low-sloped roofing due to its effectiveness. Waterproof membrane has two types – torch-on membranes and self-adhesive membranes.

Torch-on membranes are applied with a blow torch and burned as they are being rolled out, whereas self-adhesive ones stick onto the surface. However, self-adhesive ones tend to have a shorter lifespan as they wear out over time.

5. Polyurethane liquid membrane waterproofing

Uses: Rooftops, balconies, flooring

The last method of waterproofing is also the most expensive. Polyurethane liquid membrane waterproofing is used mainly on flat roofs. Typically, it’s the simplest form of liquid waterproofing and is able to withstand the exposure of harsh elements thus deeming it both an exposed and non-exposed system. This liquid membrane is also highly malleable meaning it can stretch without giving way.

However, polyurethane is sensitive to moisture content. The surface of the structure must be thoroughly evaluated before applying to ensure it doesn’t cause damage in the long run. Overall, it provides a sleek finish and is rather durable by regular standards.

MORE: Water leakage in flat roofs – What is the cause and how to prevent it?

How much does it cost to waterproof a roof or floors?

The cost of waterproofing is not limited to the cost of the materials alone. Professional waterproofing contractors in Malaysia will need to do a detailed inspection to see if there needs to be any preparation work.

In some cases, the surface may also require cleaning before applying the waterproofing. Or, if the surface is uneven, some hacking work is required to level it. For a typical terrace house in Malaysia, surface preparation may range between RM500 to RM2000 depending on the state of the surface condition.

waterproof preparation
One of the surface preparations steps is high-pressure water cleaning. ©

The table below gives a rough idea of the cost per sq ft of waterproofing, depending on the material used:

Type of waterproofingStarting price (per sq ft)
Cementitious waterproofingRM2 – RM4
Elastomeric liquid waterproofing emulsionRM3.50 – RM5
Bituminous coatingRM2 – RM4
Bituminous waterproof membraneRM6 – RM10
Polyurethane liquid membraneRM10 – RM15

Source: RNS Waterproofing

Can you do waterproofing on your own?

If the source of the leak is easy to detect, then it is possible to DIY your waterproofing. For example, when the leak is coming from a worn-out window seal. But, when you are experiencing water leakage in your ceiling, it can be extremely difficult to detect the leak source. You may need to climb up on your roof or into your attic to investigate. In this case, waterproofing the leak can be a complex task that requires an assessment from a trained expert and careful fixing to prevent the problem from escalating.

How long does waterproofing last?

Generally, waterproofing services tend to last up to between 5 – 10 years. Cementitious waterproofing, elastomeric liquid emulsion and bituminous coating could last for about 5 years. Bituminous waterproof membrane and polyurethane can withstand up to 10 years.

However, they vary on other factors such as changes in weather, usage and so on.

CHECK OUT: 11 house moving services in Malaysia

How to choose the best waterproofing contractors in Malaysia

If you suspect that you have waterproofing issues in your home, your next step will be to find a suitable contractor to diagnose the problem. You can use to submit a request for waterproofing contractors. Their system will match you with suitable contractors, who will arrange a site visit to your home and provide a detailed quote. After a detailed inspection, the contractor will suggest the best method to solve the problem, besides providing options to suit your budget.

All contractors on have gone through business verification, and will also have customer reviews and ratings. As you shortlist the contractors to your preferred choice, make sure to check these details:

How long have they been in the business?

The number of years involved in business matters in terms of experience and expertise level. When it comes to solving a particularly tough situation under exceptional circumstances, experience allows for various approaches in order to fix the problem.

Are they licensed and insured?

Proper licensing and certification helps ensure that the waterproofing service is reliable. A properly licensed contractor should also use quality products. Any contractor without a license can get fined up to RM1000 according to Section 25 of Act 520 under the Malaysian Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB).

Examples of waterproofing projects done in houses with cost

Master Bedroom Toilet Waterproofing

Project cost: RM2800

Source: Into Renovation and Construction

Toilet waterproofing for a leaky bathroom floor

Project Cost: RM1650

waterproof layer for leaky floor
Source: Eryainabless

Toilet Waterproofing and tiling

Cost: RM3500

waterproof layer bathroom
Source: sinaran-umairah-resources

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*This article was originally published as House Waterproofing Guide for Malaysian Homes [2021] by and is written by Justina Ann Marie.

Disclaimer: The information is provided for general information only. Malaysia Sdn Bhd makes no representations or warranties in relation to the information, including but not limited to any representation or warranty as to the fitness for any particular purpose of the information to the fullest extent permitted by law. While every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided in this article is accurate, reliable, and complete as of the time of writing, the information provided in this article should not be relied upon to make any financial, investment, real estate or legal decisions. Additionally, the information should not substitute advice from a trained professional who can take into account your personal facts and circumstances, and we accept no liability if you use the information to form decisions.

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