Rigorous material testing is required throughout the construction process in order to meet design specifications and timelines, validate asset performance and, ultimately, ensure safety.
From concrete, mortar and grout to metals, hydraulic cement and CLSM/flowable fill, there are several different construction materials that have to be tested during the project. Testing is necessary for a variety of reasons, including quality control, engineering specifications, certifications and regulatory compliance.
Regardless of the specific reason, it’s critical that project stakeholders at all steps of the process – from project owners to engineering firms – are able to prove that materials were correctly tested, checked, recorded and approved.
With that said, there are two main categories of material testing: field testing and lab testing. All tests are guided by ASTM standards. The following information is a summary of common field and lab tests in construction. Please be sure to follow specific testing protocols for the material you need to test.
Material Testing at Construction Sites
At the construction site, technicians need to conduct field tests by sampling fresh material. Not every material requires field testing, but wet materials like concrete do because wet characteristics impact how that material sets and strengthens over time. Examples of material testing at construction sites include:
- Air content
- Unit weight
Material Testing at Labs
The type of material testing that needs to be performed in the lab depends on the material, geometry (cube, block, etc.) and application. For example, full weight concrete being used on the foundation of a building needs to be tested for compressive strength. Meanwhile, a metal beam used in the frame of a building should also be tested for flexural strength.
Here’s a summary of types of material testing in the lab:
- Compression: Pushing on a material until it breaks.
- Tension: Pulling a specimen until it breaks.
- Flexural: Bending a specimen, which produces tensile stress on the convex face and compressive stress on the concave face, until it breaks.
- Modulus of Elasticity (MOE): Measures how much a material stretches or compresses in response to a given force.
- Poisson’s Ratio: Similar to MOE, measures the resistance to deformation perpendicular to the direction of the load.
- Tensile Splitting: Loading a test specimen cylinder lying on its side and splitting its diameter vertically as an indirect method of determining its tensile strength.
With many different materials and types of tests – and specific standards to follow for each – it’s important to have an efficient process and verifiable way to manage all of the data. CMT software combined with automatic testing machines will allow labs to run highly accurate, repeatable tests and secure original test data in an unalterable format forever.