Waterproof concrete sealers are too expensive

marsrisingJanuary 4, 2008

I'm just getting into this whole water feature thing, although I was into it as a child. That was container gardening though, which is nothing in comparison with the project I've recently started.

I decided to use concrete, because it's real, and because I like real.

Mistake number one, was thinking that, because it's such a small feature, I would be able to get away with using a small amount of concrete. Needles to say, I'm pretty much having to redo it.

Mistake number two, was trying to take shortcuts halfway through, which ended up taking longer, because, again, I had to start over.

This time, I know better than to try to cut corners, but I do think that it's ridiculous that I should have to purchase an overpriced concrete sealer to waterproof the pond. I figure if more than 2,000 years ago, there were fountains, ponds, and baths--all without the use of monomer or polymer, that I should be able to do the same. I try to do things the way they were done before all of these laboratories started telling us that their way is the only way.

I just don't buy it.

So, I've used the traditional concrete recipie, and redone the pond with 3" of concrete. Tomorrow, I will add a layer of lime and powdered silica sand (I'm going to have to crush the sand myself). Apparently if the sand is powdered, it becomes reactive with the lime, and creates a waterproof seal. It is the way it was done thousands of years ago, and I think it's worth a try, at only $6.

Just in case that doesn't work out, it will at least give it a very smooth finish, to which I can add pebbles, or mosaic tiles. And just in case, I've purchased a 10 pound chunck of parafin wax. The paste of lime, silica, and cement that I'll be adding tomorrow, will give me a very smooth surface, and even if not waterproof, I figure that if I melt parafin wax, and paint it on, it will penetrate deep into the top layer of cement, fill in any gaps, and thus, waterproof it.

Parafin is non-toxic, and is $7 for every 10 pound block, which should be way more than enough to cover the area I'm working with.

So, if any of y'all have tried this, or have heard of this, please let me know. And either way, I'll keep y'all posted. Perhaps I will end up discovering the cheapest, and most assuredly non toxic waterproofer for ponds yet. (Or, maybe everybody knows of doing this, but nobody's mentioned it online, or in books, because it's a pond lover's secret.)

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I wish you luck. I think you will need it. In my almost 65 years, I have found that you get what you pay for. Glenda

    Bookmark   January 4, 2008 at 10:26AM
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jungleman9941(9 (FL))

i used Drylok on my 4000gal cement Koi pond 4 years ago and it has never leaked and is fish safe. try Home depot or Lowes, about $20 a gallon

    Bookmark   January 5, 2008 at 10:11AM
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keithw(Zone 8)

I concur with Jungleman. Use Drylok. It works incredible. And I would avoid applying a bunch of other "test" sealers first as they will just make the cement more difficult for the Drylock to adhere to.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2008 at 8:03AM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

I am in a state of shock! No one can say why exactly what the Romans did for their cement to last so long and exposure to modern atmosphere has been speeding up deterioration. Some very strange things have been tried in attempts to duplicate that material including adding urine and blood. Modern polymers are pretty cheap and easy compared to bleeding an ox or goat whenever you want to keep a bit of concrete together and I don't want to know what your local department of health will say if you try it.
The parafin application is going to be a disaster that can't be fixed. It will attract every stray bit of dirt and debris in or out of the water which will turn ugly fast and will be a bacterial stew in short order. Artisans who use parafin for waterproofing blend it with alcohol and lots of buffing to make it form a hard surface and mineral oils and heat to make it spreadable. Water will turn it white and soft and anything will scratch it.
Sherri Warner Hunter has two excellent books on ways to manipulate concrete. They are available on Amazon along with books by several other authors. Sandy

    Bookmark   January 9, 2008 at 12:21PM
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nancyd(5/Rochester, NY)

Anything is worth a try, as long as you're ready for the consequences. Sounds like you like to experiment, but remember we still don't know how the ancient Romans were able to accomplish much of what they did (the aqueducts still amaze me). I would highly suggest you try this experiment on a smaller scale first. This way if it's a total disaster, you haven't caused any damage to your real liner. That's what a real scientist would do. I know because I'm married to one! Doing it this way will save you considerable headache and expense in the long run if your idea is not a success. (I don't think most ponders would keep this a secret if it worked for them. Usually people love to brag.)

    Bookmark   January 10, 2008 at 2:33PM
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larryl(7 Southern Oregon)

I waterproofed the concrete wall that forms my basement with Thoroseal. It is a masonry product that comes in bags (maybe 70 pounds or so). You just mix it with water and brush it on. I don't think it was too expensive, since I waterproofed about 800 square feet of wall, and would have noticed the cost if it was great. I would think a bag or two would do it. I can't vouch for it as a pond product, but my wall never leaked a drop

Here is a link that might be useful: Thoroseal

    Bookmark   January 10, 2008 at 7:35PM
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kashka_kat(z4 WI)

I have a question about these sealers - are they transparent? what would you recommend for mortared stone? (Must be fish safe)

I've been trying to figure out the waterfall/basin part of my pond and while it would have a liner underneath the main (largest) portion of the pond, it would really help if I didn't have to mess around with concealing a liner under the waterfall/basin section.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2008 at 11:53AM
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horton(6 b Ontario.)

Take a look at this sealer. The manufacturer states it can be used for sealing fish ponds and it is transparent.

Here is a link that might be useful: Concrete and stone sealer

    Bookmark   January 11, 2008 at 2:07PM
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larryl(7 Southern Oregon)

Thoroseal is a cement product, so it is definitely not clear. As for fish safe, I think it would have the same problems as any cement product, i.e. alkalinity.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2008 at 4:55PM
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I've been looking into an epoxy product called Pond Armor for a geyser-type fountain we are building. Everything I've read about it and the feedback I've gotten from some of the reviewers on their site sounds solid. Experimentation on a large scale usually turns into nightmares on a large scale. If you are not 100% sure of the outcome, you might end up paying as much for a commercial product with all your work going into in the first place.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pond Armor

    Bookmark   August 7, 2009 at 9:01AM
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I have just used Pond Armor and found it very difficult to use and spread. The 1.5 quart only covered about 20 square feet even though it claims to cover 60 at 10mills. I would not recommend Pond Armor to anyone. I ended up wasting a sponge, a roller, gloves, scraper as the mixed content is so difficult to apply.

I have read drylok or thoroseal may be the way to go. I am at the point where I either need to purchase a pond liner which I reluctantly want to do or try another sealer, any comments ?

I spent a lot of effort on mortaring And concreting the pond, only to use a liner as pond armor is such a disappointing product. Does anyone know if drylok or thoroseal are similar ?


    Bookmark   September 5, 2010 at 6:26PM
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I finally ended up using Thoroseal. I am very happy with the results. All I can say is stay far far awAy from Pond Armor. It is very expensive as this topic suggests and not worth it. Thoroseal is a relatively inexpensive product and works like a charm. If you have mixed Mortar before, Thoroseal is similar and very easy to work with.

My pond has been running for approximately 1 full month with positive results.

You can see it here http://concretepond.blogspot.com


Here is a link that might be useful: Concrete pond with Thoroseal

    Bookmark   November 13, 2010 at 6:56PM
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I used Thoroseal a few years ago to seal my pond (link below). It was easy to mix and easy to apply. Since then, some hairline cracks have appeared in the surface of the Thoroseal.

I am thinking of applying a layer of Herculiner in the spring. Herculiner is a DIY polyurethane truck bedliner. The stuff is extremely durable, and should be able to present an unbroken surface to the water despite any fine cracking underneath. It is also easy to apply, so finessing it around the skimmer and rock wall should be no problem.

Here is a link that might be useful: applying Thoroseal to my concrete pond

    Bookmark   December 19, 2010 at 7:46AM
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bernd ny zone5

In respect what the Romans used in making concrete. They used milk and animal fats, Google 'milk in Roman concrete'.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 9:38AM
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If you are planning on putting fish or plants in the pond, DON"T USE THE HERCULINER! I used it on several truck beds, it's great for that, but it has a LOT of petroleum based solvents in it, the last truck bed I did had little oil rainbows on it for months after it rained. I have used Thoroseal professionally, and it is a great product, I have also had real good luck with Sunny Day Foundation waterproofer, ( on line from Lowes at $29 for gray and $33 for white. This is a 60 pound bucket, coverage is around 440 square feet, I did a mild acid wash after removing all loose material, also use the Sunny Day bonding agent with it. A second coat is required after 1 hour, I have used it to repair/reseal old fountains with great results. I also filled in cracks with a crack filler, such as K-tite water plug. Sunny Day is safe to use on potable water tanks.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 10:17AM
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Very important not to use a coating with vocs. These leach out over the course of years. In fact, only about 50% of vocs are released during the initial cure of the coating.

Seal Tite Coating for koi fish has no vocs and is prety reasonable. This also cures to a 30 mil thick membrane. Very cool product. Thoroseal is great, if you know what you are doing with it. Seal Tite comes in different colors which adds that special finish that some people may like.

Here is a link that might be useful: Coatings for pond and sealing cement

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 12:19PM
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ktmast(No. Calif.)

From what people have posted, it looks like Drylok, Thoroseal mixed with Acryl-60 or Sunny Day Foundation waterproofer might be the least expensive/easiest option for sealing an outdoor fountain.

Do all of these require the same type of prep? Anyone know which ones are the most "forgiving" for less than perfect prep? Years ago I purchased a 3 part fountain and I think it is made of concrete which seem to have become porous.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2014 at 5:22PM
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waterbug_guy(Phoenix AZ (Melrose))

7 year old trivia question on how water features worked 2000 years ago...credit doesn't go to cement mixes, they leaked plenty. The secret is they had a continuous water source. Aqueduct, ditches and even pipes diverted water from streams at higher elevation, ran into fountains (no pumps needed) and then out of the fountain into maybe a bath house and then thru a sewer and on away from the city. So it was OK for stuff to leak some.

Curious to hear how the wax thing worked out.

Best sealer I've found is no sealer. Liner covered with concrete or mortar. Has never failed me and is super cheap and easy. Pretty hard to mess up. Allows very reliable pipe penetrations. I also prefer the look of aged concrete so that can be done too.

Sealers require stable concrete. Different sealers can span some tiny cracks but even hairline cracks can cause failure. Which is why swimming pools and professionally built concrete ponds and water features are so thick and use so much steel.

Concrete over liner only needs 1" or so of concrete and no steel (steel is bad in this case). If the outside of the fountain is to be visible you create in a standard way, thick and steel. Then liner and another 1" of concrete. Only you will know there's a liner.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2015 at 9:26PM
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I agree that they’re too expensive. I have a pond with a raised bed decorated in sandstone. I did some concrete waterproofing using a liquid membrane because the liquid type can penetrate through the small areas. I found this to be an effective way to waterproof the concrete.

    Bookmark   last Wednesday at 11:39PM
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