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What is a Damp Proof Course? Does Your Home Need It?

Damp proof membrane on top of foundation walls corner.

Damp proof coursing. You might have heard of it, but do you know what it is or why you need it? Our experts provide all the details.

What Exactly is a Damp Proof Course?

Damp proofing is present in every modern home, and a few not-so-modern homes. It is a thin layer of protection built between the brickwork of a house, close to where the house sits on its foundations. Often consisting of either slate or plastic — depending on how old the building is — the material runs the entire way around a property’s exterior wall.

The damp proof course is designed to do one thing: keep damp from entering the home.

How Does Damp Enter the Home?

Water from the ground can seep into the cracks and crevices of a building, either those that exist from the outset or that are created over time as the structure settles and ages.

Moisture is pushed into these gaps and spaces and, because the cracks are cold and dark, does not evaporate. The more moisture that files into the property, the further it climbs up into the brickwork. Imagine squeezing water through a sealed plastic tube.

Damp proof coursing is a barrier. Set at the bottom of the home, it stops moisture climbing up further into the property and prevents damp encroaching on your living space.

Do I Need Damp Proof Coursing?

Every home needs damp proof coursing. In the UK, the ground is often moist, even during summer months. Without damp proofing, water will climb its way into the house.

You’ll know if you are in need of damp proof coursing, as you’ll be experiencing issues such as damp spots on the walls, crumbling plasterboard, peeling paint or bubbling wallpaper, wet patches on floors, rotting floorboards and skirting boards, and build-up of salt deposits that cause circular white stains.

This is known as rising damp.

Why Is My House Experiencing Rising Damp?

If you are experiencing rising damp, your damp proof course is not working properly.

This is often caused by two factors:

  1. Wear and tear: Over time, damp proof coursing can become cracked or broken. This can occur due to many reasons. Your house may have shifted on its foundations, age might simply have played a part, or the materials used were perhaps not built to last.
  2. You don’t have any: Not all homes have damp proof coursing. While most British homes were built with protection following its rise to prevalence in the 1960s, there are still many houses in the UK that are far older than this.

How Do You Repair or Install a Damp Proof Course?

Installation or repair of a damp proof course is not a job to be undertaken as a DIY project. It requires expert knowledge, industrial materials and equipment, as well as an understanding of property structure.

Repair of a damp proof course is much easier than installation. A qualified professional can inject a special resin into targeted points of your property to seal up cracks and holes that have been created.

Installation is much trickier, as it requires removal of cement work and sometimes even brick. This is especially challenging for areas of the home that are inaccessible. Professional expertise is essential for proper damp proofing installation.

What Are the Benefits of a Damp Proof Course?

Investing in better — or new — damp proofing is essential for a stable and healthy home environment.

A damp proof course is your best defence against rising damp, which can result in not only damage to property but also numerous health problems. Damp in the home can lead to mould, which releases spores that exacerbate symptoms of respiratory conditions, such as asthma.


In need of an updated damp proof course? Does your home not have damp proofing? Find a tradesman perfect for the job in HaMuch’s extensive directory today!

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