I'm getting ready to dig up my yard and expose my foundation to waterproof it. What is the current state of the art for foundation waterproofing? I don't mean the stuff in a bucket that is typically spread on with a brush, but a true waterproofing system I know will work. I am also going to put in a drain tile below the footer. What have you done or had done to your house? What systems require a contractor? (hot tar?)

Second question: When I go to back fill, do I put gravel right up against the foundation, up to near the surface? How much gravel?

  • "Stuff in a bucket" (depending on what you choose) is, or at least can be state of the art waterproofing.Is it maybe possible to provide us with some more details (pictures of foundation,blueprints, type of foundation is there any waterproofing and which...) this would help in order to choose right type of material.I wouldn't recommend hot tar (sometimes refered as "black waterproofing") because they are mineral, organic and they have a lifespan. Jun 5, 2015 at 7:51
  • I will post some pics after I get more of the foundation exposed.
    – BrianK
    Jun 5, 2015 at 17:04

3 Answers 3


Current state of the art is a dimpled drainage mat applied against the foundation and lapped over the footing, with a drainage pipe at the bottom to carry off water. The pipes can drain to daylight if there's enough slope on your lot, to a sump pit, or to the sewer/waste plumbing if that's legal in your location. The whole thing looks like this:

enter image description here


For your second question:

You just need a coarse gravel around the drain pipe or tile, not to the grade. Similar to the image provided by iLikeDirt. Ideally, drop a silt filter fabric over that; prevents small particles of dirt from slowly clogging up your pipe system.

The IRC asks for 1 foot of gravel out from the wall and 6 inches from the top of the footing.IRC 405.1

And don't dig below your footer. That soil is compacted, or has become compacted, disrupting that soil might cause unpleasant side effects.


Waterproofing is not important, your house is not supposed to be a boat. What you want is drainage. If drainage is good your whole foundation can be a sieve and it will still be dry as a bone. I have a foundation made out of rocks with 2-inch gaps and cracks in them everywhere and the basement is completely dry. Why? Because it is on a berm and the whole plot has good drainage.

Conversely, you can buy all the most expensive "sealants" and every other expensive piece of mumbo jumbo Dow Chemical wants to sell you, and your foundation will leak like crazy if there is bad drainage.

Forget waterproofing. Invest your money in drainage.

  • This is largely true, but lacks details of applicable products and methods.
    – iLikeDirt
    Jun 5, 2015 at 17:05
  • Good point on the drainage. I will take care of surface drainage, but the house sits down a hill. I may need to put in a French drain higher on the hill.
    – BrianK
    Jun 5, 2015 at 17:05

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