Material Testing & Analysis

We have partnered with a nationally renowned testing lab to provide a comprehensive range of advanced material testing, which we supplement with our analysis and replacement recommendations. 

As part of our service, we offer free sample extraction (within the Chicago-area), and we will prepare and submit the sample for testing. Once the lab has completed the tests and provided a report, we review and analyze the data to identify the original material and make scientifically-based restoration recommendations. In order to make the most accurate restoration recommendations, we’ve run ASTM C-1324 tests on our entire line of historic mortars so we can compare performance characteristics of the original with replacement products and identify the most suitable option.

With the exception of ASTM C-1324, these tests generally have to be performed in some combination in order to yield useful information. We will be happy to work with you to develop the test matrix that best suits your project.

Please allow 3-4 weeks for for most testing procedures. The lead time may be longer during times of peak demand.

One of our most commonly requested tests is ASTM C-1324, which is a comprehensive test of historic masonry mortar. This test includes acid digestion, thin section analysis, and x-ray diffraction. It calculates the cement to hydrated lime ratios as well as sand to cementitious ratios. The lab test results include a written, photodocumented report with limited interpretation. We will review the test results and analyze them to identify the original material and make restoration recommendations.

Phases are identified by mineral names and chemical formulas. Abundance of phases is estimated as “major,” “minor,” or “trace.” Narrative report includes a table of observed phases. XRD on acid insoluble fraction further characterizes the “sand.”

Digests the binder away from the sand to determine sand content. If the mortar is very hard and tested by ASTM C-1324, the sand particles may not be able to be kept intact for digestion, thus sand gradation may not be determinable.  Additional digestion of other, larger pieces of the mortar will be necessary to obtain enough intact sand for a sieve analysis. If carbonate sand is present, the sand volume and sieve analysis will be biased. Thin section analysis will be able to assess the approximate percentage of carbonate.

Brief microscopial work to examine the aggregates.

Thin section analysis uses optical microscopy to determine the general composition of the mortar, binder type, and sand types. This analysis will not determine the actual sand gradation or cement to hydrated lime ratios. The lab results include a written, photodocumented report with limited interpretation which we supplement with our recommendations.

XRF yields a one-page report listing the percentages of chemical elements expressed as oxides, SiO2, Al2O3, Fe2O3, CaO, MgO, SO3, Na2O, K2O, TiO2, P2O5, SrO, Mn2O3, ZnO, and Cr2O3. Thermogravimetric analysis is used to calculate hydrated lime and carbonation.

This test is useful for mix reconstruction and mortar matching.

This test can assist in small scale determination of composition of individual particles in the past binder that cannot be detected in bulk analysis or by microscopy. Historical mortars can contain unusual ingredients which may or may not be important in the analysis.

This test can assist in small scale determination of composition of individual particles in the past binder that cannot be detected in bulk analysis or by microscopy. Historical mortars can contain unusual ingredients which may or may not be important in the analysis.

ASTM C-67: This test determines the average compressive strength of a clay brick masonry unit based on 5 samples.

Testing Inquiry
If you would like more information about our testing services, please send us a note and we will respond promptly.