Bright prospects for waterproofing compounds are growing the market and spurring innovative research, reports CHARU BAHRI.
A key component of the building process, waterproofing products form part of the Indian construction chemicals market. A FICCI-TATA Strategic Management Group report on construction chemicals, launched at the 4th International Construction Chemicals Conclave held in January 2013, estimates the overall construction chemicals market to have grown at 17 per cent per annum in the past five years. In 2012, the market was valued at Rs 3,100 crore, with the top five players enjoying about half the pie. Comprising sheet membranes and liquid applied systems, waterproofing chemicals had a 14 per cent share of the market.
For his part, E Lazarus, Executive Director, Chowgule Construction Technologies, estimates the size of the waterproofing market to be about Rs 500 crore per annum. However, it is a highly fragmented market with many small and unorganised players.
Bright prospects are forecast for each segment of the construction chemicals industry. The market is expected to continue to grow between 15 per cent and 20 per cent annually to somewhere between Rs 6,000 crore and Rs 7,000 crore by 2017. Growth is being spurred by the low penetration level of construction chemicals at present and steady growth in construction activities. "Large real-estate developers on a high-storey building construction spree are spurring the growth of this segment the most," says Lazarus.
"The waterproofing industry has been growing at 20 per cent per annum in the past three years. This trend is likely to continue for the next couple of years."
According to Swapnil R Deshmukh, Marketing Manager, Chembond Chemicals Ltd, "Real estate generates the biggest demand for all kinds of waterproofing chemicals. This includes developers of private residences as well as those of government-sponsored housing. Infrastructure development and government institutions also generate significant demand, these are bulk-buyers."
BS Nagaraj, Product Segment Manager, Fosroc, counts increasing demand for enhanced structural integrity as a key driver for waterproofing products. "'Maintenance-free' is the future mantra of the construction industry," he points out. "Nowadays, the focus is to create structures that are waterproof from the start and stay that way. Therefore, takers for products offering long-term value are growing. At the same time, customers are looking beyond innovative products offering superior performance to technical service and support. Feedback from Fosroc customers suggests that they most value the involvement of our sales engineers in providing waterproofing solutions that are project-specific."
What's more, the green building movement is playing an interesting role in expanding the prospects of waterproofing compounds.
"Mounting concerns about global warming are spurring a growing trend towards the construction of more green buildings," says Sanjay Bahadur, CEO, Global Construction Chemicals Division, Pidilite Industries Ltd. "Thus, the government has decided that all new buildings will have to comply with three-star GRIHA ratings. This change will lead to insulation of buildings, which will require better quality waterproofing systems."
Awareness on the rise
Greater awareness about the advantages of waterproofing chemical compounds vis-a-vis traditional methods is playing a huge role in growing demand. "A remarkable shift can be seen from conventional waterproofing methods such as brickbat coba and box-type method to new technologies such as crystalline and integral waterproofing systems," explains Lazarus. "These methods have opened the gateway for speedy execution and cost-effective, quality-controlled waterproofing systems."
"New products can be cheaper, faster to apply and more reliable," observes Deshmukh. "Of course, they entail new application techniques and new approaches." He believes demand would grow faster if construction companies were better informed about the advantages of modern techniques.
Essentially, many construction companies are still not clear about the advantages of proven formulas from leading brands and hence tend to use low-cost substitutes. According to Prabhsharan Singh, Head-Chemicals, FICCI, "Like other construction chemicals, waterproofing is an extremely price-sensitive market. Contractors prefer low-cost chemicals to reduce overall upfront construction cost. Decisions are erroneously taken on immediate cost, not on overall cost of ownership, or lifecycle cost. What compounds their confusion is that prices of products can vary tremendously, given that the market is populated by global construction chemical companies, medium-sized regional players and small, unorganised players."
So which are the fast growing segments of the waterproofing market? "Our current major successes include a range of polyurethane injection foams, resins and gels," shares Lazarus. "PU rigid foams arrest active leakages, flexible resins seal cracks, rigid resins strengthen the structure, two-in-one products arrest as well as seal cracks, and gels are useful for curtains and expansion joints."
Sushil I Kathar, Managing Director, Penetron India Pvt Ltd, sees a growing trend in the use of crystalline waterproofing admixtures, his company's lead product. "They are economical, extremely effective and can be applied quickly," he elaborates. "They are especially well suited for basement waterproofing.
We are focusing on evaluating new markets for our existing range of crystalline waterproofing products."
Deshmukh observes that retail sales of do-it-yourself products are rising, on the back of growing demand from small end-users who use these products for repairs, maintenance and rehabilitation. This segment is huge in unit terms but not so much in value terms because these products are mostly based on generic formulations.
A maturing market is encouraging manufacturers to expand their R&D activities in high-end niche products. "As a result, waterproofing products are becoming more user and environment-friendly and versatile," observes Manish Panchal, Practice Head-Chemical & Energy, TATA Strategic Management Group. Opportunities abound for products based on refined application techniques and innovative technologies. Panchal sees a wider scope for high-value products that return better margins, which are used only by premium construction houses at present.
According to Deshmukh, "Chembond Chemicals Ltd has lined up an array of products for launch in the next three to six months.
These include PU-based crack injection compounds, sealants and liquid-applied waterproofing membranes." Looking to the future, the company is researching new products in the crack repair additive category, its strong point. It proposes to add nylon and polyester fibre products to its existing micro polypropylene fibre monofilament.
The new product range from Chowgule Construction Technologies includes exterior wall coatings, the AcryCoat series of products. These high-performance coatings are highly elastic, UV-resistant and durable enough to withstand harsh and fluctuating weather conditions. They are also available in different shades to enhance the aesthetics of the structure and eliminate the need for an additional coat of paint.Pidilite Industries has recently introduced Dr Fixit Low Energy Consumption (LEC) Solution for the Indian market, a breakthrough waterproofing-cum-insulation combination compound backed by a 25-year guarantee. Incredibly positive acceptance for a variant of this product in the Middle East spurred this local launch. "The current positive market sentiment is proving to be a game changer," says Bahadur.
"Now companies can see demand for innovative products growing by the day and this is encouraging further research."Evidently, innovation, an outcome of strong demand, is in turn pushing the market to new heights.
• Expected growth in construction chemicals: between 15-20 per cent annually.
• Biggest demand comes from real estate, followed by infrastructure and government institutes.
• Retail sales of do-it-yourself products on the rise.
• Crystalline and integral waterproofing systems are in vogue.
CASE STUDY 1
Product: Crystalline admixture
MODE OF APPLICATION: Penetron Admix crystalline waterproofing admixture is added to concrete either at the batching plant or in the transit mixer @0.8 per cent by weight of cement.
Project: GVK Group for its Bangalore Airport expansion project
BACKGROUND: Originally, PVC membranes were specified for this project and the total execution time was estimated to be 24 months. The specification was changed because GVK Group, the client, and L&T, the main contractor, needed to complete the project in 18 months. As crystalline admixtures are much faster to apply, this product became the preferred choice. Eventually, the client saved six months in project execution time.
Salient features: The crystalline admixture imparts self-healing properties to the concrete. It is non-toxic and capable of resisting chemical attack in the pH range of 3-11.
CASE STUDY 2
Product: KEM PROOF 86
Manufacturer: Chembond Chemicals Ltd
Mode of application: By brush or roller, on concrete asbestos, wood, brick/stone, tiles and textiles
Project: Private residence in Vapi
BACKGROUND: KEM PROOF 86 for exterior waterproofing acts as a barrier preventing rainwater seepage. KEM PROOF 86 is a high-quality acrylic emulsion-based coating, typically applied on masonry, concrete, cement and waste plaster and cement boards.
Salient features: The product's elastomeric properties, high resistance to rain and sunlight, durability and complete resistance to fungal growth appealed to the client. It also has an attractive sheen after application.
CASE STUDY 3
Multilevel basement waterproofing
Product: Combination of InstaStop, PUR Grout 10, PUR Grout 2011 and CrystalFlex 2K SuperStrong
Manufacturer: Chowgule Construction Technologies
Mode of application: By brush or roller
Project: Ackruti City, now Hub Town
BACKGROUND: Inspection of the seafront structure showed heavy ingress of water from the construction joints, which had resulted in massive water leakages into the basement areas. This was because of heavy negative pressure on the construction joints. The multilevel basement needed negative side waterproofing that could resist water pressure to a depth of 18 m.
Salient features: Weaker sections of the surface from where there were active leakages were treated with Chowgule's InstaStop. At the construction joints, high-performance, polyurethane-based injection foam PUR Grout 10 was installed. Next, high-strength, polyurethane-based resinous injection PUR Grout 2011 helped create a permanent flexible barrier against further water leakages from the joints. Then, three coats of the two-component, high-strength, crystalline-based coating CrystalFlex 2K SuperStrong were applied on the wet concrete surface. The waterproofing is a resounding success, proving that it is highly impermeable to deeper water head pressure up to 18-20 m below ground level.
CASE STUDY 4
Podium slab waterproofing
Product: Fosroc Polyurea WPE system
MODE OF APPLICATION: Fosroc Polyurea WPE is a spray-applied, 100-per-cent solid, flexible, two-component, rapid curing pure Polyurea system.
Project: Brigade Gateway, Bengaluru
BACKGROUND: Podium slabs can be put to diverse uses-to hold water bodies, landscaped, made into a children's playground, sports facility or car park. Waterproofing for podium slabs must therefore boast of various qualities to successfully protect structural elements and embedded steel reinforcement from corrosion. The product must be seamless and fully bonded to the substrate to provide superior tensile and elongation properties to accommodate thermal movements in open areas. It must be resistant to root penetration, etc, ultimately providing a barrier to water ingress.
Salient features: Fosroc Polyurea WPE gets fully cured within hours, allowing waterproofing to run parallel with construction activities. Other positives are its durability, high puncture and tear resistant, chemical, abrasion and root-resistant qualities that make it ideal for landscaping (protection screed is not mandatory). It's a zero-VOC green product complying with LEED norms.
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