What is Parging?

New England is a part of the country where the majority of folks have some type of basement.

Contrasting from a good portion of the rest of the country where most people’s homes are built on “slabs” (most often to lessen the chances of flooding, particularly on areas with higher water tables).

The older the home, the more likely one is to have a foundation built out of a material that was assembled [brick, fieldstone, cinderblock (“block”)] vs. out of poured concrete (which is the case in more modern homes).

Specifically, when it comes to fieldstone foundations (though at times with brick and block as well), the mortar (or other material which may have been used to help keep the assembled material in place) may become compromised to some degree over time.

When this happens, signs of moisture (especially during rainy periods of time) may begin to show their face in the basement.

The moisture may gradually leech its way through the walls in the form of a noticeable substance that is called “efflorescence” (a white, powdery substance that if you were to touch it would come right off on your fingertip).

Sometimes you may be able to see the actual water itself work its way through the foundation walls in its true form and exhibit its wetness on the material the foundation is made out of.

In the most severe cases of this occurring over a longer period of time, mold can develop in some form on the walls.

Usually the moisture challenge is spotty, though at times it can definitely be much more widespread.

Whether minor, severe, or anywhere in between, one of the best ways to combat the moisture from coming through these types of walls is through a process called “parging”.

Parging is a procedure where someone (often best done by a mason, though someone properly trained should be able to so as well) takes a certain mixture of mortar and proceeds to apply it over the entire surface of the area in which one is aiming to correct these aforementioned types of issues – think almost like a rough skim coat, typically applied with a trowel.

The purpose of parging is to not only prevent moisture seepage into the basement, but it also helps solidify any cracks, visible or not visible, that may be in the process of occurring between the joints in the fieldstone, brick, or block.

This is a huge help in aiding to guard against water freezing and expanding within these joints and causing an accelerated deterioration process.

More often than not the parging processes we have helped Clients with over time have more so been done with fieldstone foundations than brick or block.

This may purely be the case of the fieldstone foundations in our region simply being older and hence even more prone to moisture challenges than a lot of the brick or block foundations which are around, though it would not be unusual for us to be called into a situation that calls for us to recommend to parge a brick or block wall as well.

Whether fieldstone, brick, or block, it is always important to monitor the walls of your basement for moisture challenges.

Knowing that a solution such as parging exists can be quite helpful for those that discover this type of an issue and are not quite sure what to do to stop it.

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