Article Updated on 15th March 2021
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The evaluation of the physical and mechanical properties of materials is known as physical properties testing. It encompasses a range of different testing techniques that explore the characteristics of a material, which, in the construction industry could be a chemical, bulk material, polymer, plastic, coating, raw material, etc. It also includes testing aspects of the local terrain, such as soil quality and composition, as well as investigating the potential impact of construction work on nearby structures.
Testing uncovers aspects of the material such as its hardness, strength, impact strength, resistance to abrasion, elasticity, plasticity, brittleness, fatigue, and creep (the deformation caused by constant loads for long periods). All these properties are essential to know when using a material in a construction project. Chemists and scientists are employed to manage physical properties testing using robust and reliable industry-accepted scientific methods.
Importance of Testing Physical Properties in Construction
Not any material can be used as a building material. Depending on the project material is intended for, it must meet certain requirements and specific engineering properties will be demanded from the material, which physical properties testing can confirm or deny. Testing helps experts determine if a material is suitable for its purpose.
One major reason why physical properties testing is vital to the construction industry is that it allows project managers to identify problems before they arise. Building projects can be very complex, they’re not just walls, roofs, floors and foundations, they involve the integration of several support materials too, each of which is integral to the stability of the building. Testing the materials determines whether they are fit to do the job they were intended for.
What’s more, new buildings must meet certain legal, safety and environmental regulations. Material use is restricted by these guidelines, meaning that project managers must know exactly what materials they are using, and what properties they hold, so that they can avoid legal trouble later on. In some cases, the law requires some form of proof of the quality of the materials used in new construction, so physical properties testing to some extent has become a legal requirement.
Further to this, physical properties testing makes stress tests safer. Before materials testing, buildings would go under stress tests to check that they were structurally sound before they would be determined ready to use. However, these tests posed safety risks to the environment and workers. Materials testing allows for material faults to be determined ahead of these tests, so they can be remedied first.
Repairs and renovations are not uncommon in the construction industry. Over time buildings deteriorate, and without corrective work, they can pose a danger to the people using the buildings, which is often expensive to rectify. Physical properties testing helps to identify where future problems may lie and help project managers select the right materials to withstand the test of time.
In addition to testing the properties of the materials being used in the construction, building projects will also test the physical properties of the materials that are already at the site, such as soil, aggregates, and asphalt. Testing is also conducted to determine the physical impact the new building may have on the surrounding environment, which is essential to prevent any unintended damage.
Physical properties testing in construction is vital to the safety of the project and the building it is constructing. It also helps construction companies comply with regulations, predict and prevent construction problems, enhance the efficiency of the project and ensure the quality of a building, amongst other factors.
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