The existence of rising damp and the problems caused by it have been documented since antiquity. In the UK, various documented and professional publications have documented rising damp since the early Victorian times, going back almost 200 years.

The Roman Period

The first known written historical reference about rising damp goes back to ancient Rome. The Romans, being excellent engineers, that have built some masterpieces that lasted over 2000 years. Historic records show that they not only were aware of rising damp, but they also worked out efficient solutions in combating it.

Roman architect and engineer Vitruvius in his famous Ten Books on Architecture has described the type of plaster mix that should be used on the lower parts of the walls subject to ground moisture:

"I shall next explain how the polished finish is to be accomplished in places that are damp, in such a way that it can last without defects. First, in apartments which are level with the ground, apply a rendering coat of mortar, mixed with burnt brick instead of sand, to a height of about three feet above the floor, and then lay on the stucco so that those portions of it may not be injured by the dampness."

(Book VII)

Remnants of old Roman damp proof courses still exist today.

Historical References from the UK

From 1877 the use of damp proof courses became mandatory in the UK, however references in books and specialist publications go back as early as 1844. Here are some historical references from the UK describing the existence of rising damp, along with recommended solutions on how to overcome it.

1844 - The Builder (architectural journal), Vol. II

1851 - The Builder's Guide: A Practical Manual (book)

1863 - Papers of the Royal Institute of British Architects

1873 - The British Medical Journal

1876 - Notes on Building Construction (book)

1885 - Helps to Health (health publication)

1891 - Public Health Act London

Modern View - Scientific Research and Studies

Modern research has helped us clarify many aspects of the mechanisms underlying rising damp. Research papers from all over the world confirm its existence, highlighting some of the irreversible damages it can create to old buildings.

1994 - Old House Journal, USA

2007 - Research Paper - The Royal Society, UK

2006 - Research Paper - University of Bologna, Italy

2012 - Research Paper - University of Porto, Portugal

2013  -Research Paper - University of Bologna, Italy

2017 - German Professional Textbook

2019 - Research Paper - School of Architecture, China

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