barn conversion

Damp Proofing for Barn Conversions

8 September 2021

For a number of years, converting old agricultural buildings and barns into habitable spaces has proved to be a challenging but also very rewarding process. The end results can look aesthetically pleasing on the eye as well as providing a historic rural living for residents. More and more people are looking to have their old barns converted and as with any type of building, damp proofing needs to be taken into consideration.

If the barn is to be used for residential living, then some form of damp proofing should definitely be considered. After all the hard work that has gone into converting the barn, the last thing you need is an unnecessary damp problem that could have been avoided.

What Damp Proofing Is Already in Place for a Barn Conversion?

Before Before Cavity Drain Membrane Installation

The simple answer is that a barn has no real damp proofing measures already in place so damp proofing will have to be a consideration when looking at a barn conversion. If you also take into account that over the years many agricultural processes will have taken place within the barn then the building can prove to be vulnerable to damp problems.

Depending on what agricultural processes have been carried out, such as irrigation and storage of fertilisers, will determine how much water has affected the barn. The main problem is that there is often salt contamination on the wall of the barns, especially where animals have been housed as a result of urine soaking into the walls.

Where there are hygroscopic salts, this attracts moisture from the atmosphere that is then displaced onto the walls of the building.

Understanding what the barn was originally used for can help identify what damp proofing should be used. By providing this information you can help speed up the process for the damp surveyor who can assess the areas of the building which may be potentially heavily affected by dampness.

What Type of Damp Proofing Should Be Used for Your Converted Barn?

Cavity wall membrane on Barn conversion wall

Barns are constructed using different types of materials including granite, brick and cob. Without knowing the cause of the damp, it is hard to be specific on what damp proofing should be used for your barn conversion project.

One important thing to consider is what the barn conversion is going to be used for.  How you are going to use the barn conversion will determine how much you will have to allocate from your budget for damp proofing.

Most people use converted barns to live in but there are also many options where you don’t actually live in it, but it is still being used on a regular basis – such as an art studio. The barn conversion will still need to be fully damp proofed to make sure that any equipment is fully protected from dampness.

Damp proof membrane is the most popular solution for protecting a barn conversion from dampness. Cavity drain membrane is widely used for converted barns for a number of reasons including:

  • Membrane can be used on walls and floors that have been contaminated by salts.
  • Membrane allows for the walls to breathe.
  • Can be used for a wide range of construction types.

Using a Specialist

Having your barn converted demands a high level of skill from surveyors and technicians. We recommend talking to one of our damp specialists early on in the barn conversion process. Specifying and carrying out the necessary damp proofing works on a barn conversion project can sometimes prove challenging due to the type of structure as well as the environment.

We have been involved with a number of projects where we have encountered customers who have to come to us where work on the barn conversion has started, but the specifications made by a previous contractor are not workable or the barn conversion has not been designed with damp proofing in mind.

Not only do our team at Timberwise provide damp proofing solutions but we are also able to provide specialist timber treatments and timber repairs. Structural timbers can suffer attacks from wood rot and wood boring beetles. Structural timbers can also start to deteriorate if the building has been poorly designed or just naturally deteriorate over a period of time.

Our range of structural timber repairs includes crack stitching, lateral restraints and lintel repairs. The type of timber treatment that is required depends on which part of the building is suffering structural damage.

Should You Damp Proof Your Barn Conversion?

As we have explained, damp proofing should definitely be carried out if you are looking to have your barn converted. While the specifications for the barn conversion are being formulated, make sure that damp proofing is part of the process (a damp surveyor can help with this).

Having a barn restored or converted is certainly a rewarding process, however, it can be time-consuming and require a substantial budget.  If the building is protected from damp though, then whatever you decide to use the barn for, it will remain damp free for many years for you and those that use it.

If you have a barn conversion that requires the assistance of our damp and timber experts you can simply get in touch with us by calling us on 0800 288 8660 or contact us online.