Maintenance is key to preserving your adobe home, and a vital part of any maintenance program is making sure your adobe is protected from the damaging effects of water intrusion. Depending on the kind of adobe your home is constructed from, regularly applying a premium water repellent is the number one method of protection.
For “do-it-yourselfer’s,” you can purchase the Silox Adobe Water Repellent (click here) from Adobe Masters and apply it yourself. I provide instructions on how to properly seal your home and rent equipment that will make the job easier. If interested, please call Roy Spears at (520) 331-4004.
Adobe Masters has been treating homes in Tucson since 1985, using a product called SILOX ADOBE WATER REPELLENT (now called “SILOX ADOBE/RAMMED EARTH WATER REPELLENT). This is a premium water repellent formulated for the unique needs of adobe and is the only water repellent we use on our homes.
Treating your own home can be a daunting task. Whether you decide to “do it yourself” by purchasing the SILOX through us or have Adobe Masters contract this vital service out, you can rest assured that we will help see you through the process.
Whatever you do, do not apply any sealer, water-repellent, or any similar product on your adobe that will cause it to “shine like a diamond,” i.e., a “high gloss” product. Allow no contractor to put any type of a product like this on your adobe.
This said, it is important to distinguish between a “high gloss, shine like a diamond” coating and a coating that imparts a slight matte finish. A visible, slight matte or eggshell finish is not destructive to your adobe if this type of finish is chemically formulated to “breathe,” or allow moisture to permeate through the coating. In fact, a bit of a sheen is important in stabilizing and binding up the oftentimes dusty and/or loose sand and clay particles of various types of earth adobes. Again, a slight sheen is not necessarily a cause for alarm and can be a critical component to a water repellent designed for earth products.
What you want to be on the alert for is a sealer or water repellent that is so shiny they are in appearance to high gloss Saltillo tile floors in many southwest hotels and homes. When you encounter this type of a high gloss surface on an adobe wall, red flags are in order.
The reasons for this is because the fierce Tucson sun will attack any type of a shine or coating lying on the surface of your adobes and begin to degrade this material, ultimately turning it into a varnish like color and causing it to crack and peel. I have even seen the sun turn some of these clear, shiny coatings green. Such a thing happened to my home. Before I purchased it, someone had applied a shiny sealer to my adobes and parts of it turned green.
Another problem with “shiny” sealers is that, because this material lies on top of the adobe and puts a visible film over it, this cuts off the ability of the adobe to “breathe.” This effectively traps in any moisture that gets behind the adobe via a crack, or being absorbed from the ground. I went to a home just today and saw this shiny sealer on the customer’s house; large portions of the adobe on his archway was literally peeling off because of the water seeking to escape back out through the adobe was unable to because of the film blocking its exit.
Water creates pressure as it seeks to escape out of the adobe. If that water hits an impermeable barrier (the shiny sealer) on it’s way out, it can “pop off” the first layer of the skin of the adobe. A shiny sealer does more harm than good.
The SILOX ADOBE/RAMMED EARTH WATER REPELLENT successfully blends the need for a stabilizing agent (to bind up the loose and delaminating particles of various earth blocks and rammed earth) with a hydrophobic (“horror of water”) water repellent. You need both to address the unique issues of mud, unfired adobes and rammed earth. Immediately after applying the SILOX on your adobe or rammed earth home, you may notice a slight eggshell or matte finish on the surface of your adobe, particularly in various sunlight or at certain times of the day.
Depending on the side of your home (most notably the south and west ends) and the amount of direct sun your walls receive, this matte finish will soon start to fade until it will no longer be visible. On the north side of your home, this matte finish may never completely disappear because this side of your home is usually protected from most of the sun.
Before you contract out with any company to apply a water-repellent on your home, ask them before you sign the contract or agree to have them seal your house whether or not the water-repellent they will be using will be putting a high gloss on the adobe.
Call Roy Spears at (520) 331-4004 or email him at “firstname.lastname@example.org”.