Case Study: Kelvin Hall

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Welcome to a case study of an interesting job where waterproofing principles and materials were applied to solve a unique problem in an iconic piece of Scottish architecture.

This is the story of how Wise Basement Systems worked in conjunction with Newton Waterproofing to help Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall become a safe community space for the people of Glasgow.

The Kelvin Hall Roof: A unique job

The problem facing the Kelvin Hall was not one of water management but “paint management”.

During renovations to the hall after the Glasgow Commonwealth games in 2014, it was noticed that paint was flaking from the ceiling. This was a major problem because the paint contained lead and was therefore toxic.

The owners of the building contacted our friends at UK wide company Newton Waterproofing to see if there was any way the membrane technology used in structural waterproofing jobs could be applied to their paint problem. Fortunately, the answer was yes.

In structural waterproofing, membranes are usually installed behind walls to catch any external water ingress. Water then runs down the membrane into drainage channels and eventually out of the building. A similar idea was proposed for the Kelvin Hall ceiling, only this time flaking paint rather than water ingress would be controlled.

After accepting the challenge, Newton Waterproofing approached Wise Basement Systems, Scotland’s leading structural waterproofing experts, to implement and oversee the installation.

To explain the job further, here is Wise Basement Systems senior surveyor, Stuart McGinlay:

“Lead paint causes a lot of problems in older buildings, and due to lead being a dangerous neurotoxin, you cannot have the general public around flaking paint – particularly when it is falling from the roof as in this instance. That said, it is not often that waterproofing principles applied to solve the problem.

The idea was to apply a membrane directly to the ceiling preventing any falling flakes. A new acoustic ceiling could then be applied directly onto the membrane, making any public contact with the lead paint impossible.”

Technical details

The membrane used in this job was a Newton 503 Mesh. This mesh is strong, despite being a mere 3.5mm in overall thickness. However, with regards to this job, the most important detail about Newton 503 mesh is that it is an excellent ’key’ for mortars, renders and plasters. This meant the acoustic ceiling (made from a Papier mâché style material that required no paint or finish) could be applied directly to the membrane.

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