We provide services relative to material science. Determination of the cause of a failure and other problems frequently requires investigation of the materials involved, their physical properties, and interaction between materials. This investigation typically starts with inspections in the field and may extend to laboratory analysis of the materials. We have evaluated and tested items such as thermal insulation, sprayed-on fireproofing, coatings, encapsulants, stucco, drywall, joint compound, plaster, masonry products, and other materials used in building construction.
Our investigations of material science issues have included the following specialized activities:
- Field inspections and testing, such as adhesion testing of coatings, rebound testing for concrete or plaster strength, pull testing for sealants, thickness testing of coatings.
- Field microscopy to inspect the interface between materials, and condition of very thin materials such as coatings, or to locate fine contaminates such as construction dust in ductwork and HVAC equipment.
- Field photomicrography or macrophotography to document material conditions, and the interface between materials.
- Sampling of materials and assemblies in a manner to preserve the materials and assemblies to permit laboratory analysis.
- Air sampling for particulate, which is identified by optical and electron microscopy.
- Air sampling, both in the field and under laboratory conditions, of VOCs either in the air of a building, or emitted by a material.
- Laboratory analysis of materials including microscopy, electron microscopy, and chemical analysis to determine material properties and compatibility of materials in an assembly.
- Categorization of plaster, concrete, and stucco based upon aggregate and cement composition.
- Laboratory testing of strength and durability of materials.
- Laboratory modeling of assemblies to test installation methods.
- Testing to determine the hygrothermal properties of materials, such as moisture storage capacity and the relationship between moisture content, water activity, and mold growth.
Our material science investigations are facilitated by other services we offer, particularly the building sciences related services such as moisture testing and humidity testing, industrial hygiene services such as sampling, mold testing, and air sampling, and historical research into building construction practices and materials.
Here are some examples of past projects that illustrate our approach.