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July 12, 2004 9:02 AM CDT

ASTM Meetings Held in Kansas City


The American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) held its semi-annual June Committee meetings this past June in Kansas City, MO. There were many different subcommittee and task group meetings held, but there were a few that were particularly of interest to mason contractors. The following is a synopsis of some of these topics.

Masonry Workmanship Standard
ASTM Task Group C15.05.07 on Masonry Workmanship met in order to discuss changes to the draft Standard Practice. We also developed and circulated a comprehensive rationale statement that we feel should deflect many of the redundant non-technical negative votes we had been receiving. Among the changes made was an explanation of the requirement to specify precision materials when specifying precision dimensional tolerances. This section was placed in the beginning of the document in the Significance and Use section. The task group then worked through some changes in placement of different items. We are ready to ballot the current Workmanship Standard during the next ASTM ballot cycle.

If it passes through the committee, this document will be the first ever published masonry workmanship standard in history. Because the masonry Code and Specification, the MSJC, contains some workmanship guidelines, the aforementioned document will only be used in non load bearing commercial masonry construction. This is significant in many ways, but in particular to protect lawsuits to mason contractors that are based on bad workmanship. This document has been in the works for over a decade. Every few years, as ASTM evolves, new members fight the document. Our primary adversaries have been brick and block producers, but recently other design professionals have expressed concern. This will not deter us from publishing this document. Design professionals should have some document to guide them on judging masonry workmanship and the MCAA will fight until this Standard is published.

Finish and Appearance
ASTM Task Group C15.03.07 on Finish and Appearance (of concrete units) met during committee week. MCAA's Rashod R. Johnson is the Chairman of the task group. The scope of the task group is to reword all of the concrete Standard's "Finish and Appearance" sections to clear up the current disjointed wording. This is the section of the Standard that talks about the percentage of waste, what is allowable for acceptance or rejection of materials, and finished wall construction, and the infamous "20 foot rule".

The task group worked out proper wording and are balloting this wording for ASTM C90 during the next ballot cycle.

ASTM Task Group C15.02.07 on Finish and Appearance (of clay units) was chaired by John Bufford of ACME Brick. MCAA's Rashod Johnson voted negative on 5 items during the last balloting cycle. In and effort to delete any "permissive" language from ASTM Standards, often times, the intent of the section is lost. These negatives were put forth to maintain the integrity of intent of these sections in the Standards.

New Version of ASTM Standards for Masonry
ASTM Committees C12 and C15 are in the process of formulating an updated version of the Masonry Test Methods and Specifications for the Building Industry. This is the compilation of all ASTM Standards that are related to masonry materials, mortar and construction. The fourth and latest edition was published in 2001. Since ASTM Standards change yearly, the Fifth Edition will be published in 2005.

JOIN ASTM NOW for $75 (
For only $75 a year, you can join ASTM and affect the changes in Standards. For your membership, you receive a 400-page ASTM book full of all the updated Standards for masonry. In the coming year, the MCAA technical committee will begin to have quarterly conference calls to discuss ASTM ballot items. If you wish to join this committee, please contact the MCAA's Director of Engineering, Rashod R. Johnson at

MCAA's presence is gaining more strength as time passes. Many topics try to get into the Standards and are blocked by MCAA and other contractors. YOUR participation is needed to ensure that the contractors have the same power and influence as the suppliers and designers.

About the Author

Rashod R. Johnson, P.E., is president of The Roderick Group in Chicago. He is the former Director of Engineering for the Mason Contractors Association of America and currently serves as a technical consultant to the association.


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