Do ASTM/FM Test Results Validate Long Term Performance?

Jonathan Pierson on Apr 20, 2016 8:53:47 AM

FiberTite Roofing Membrane Installed on New York Yankee's Parking Garage

When it comes to determining the best roofing solution for you, there are a number of questions you may ask yourself. Some example are: 

  • Does a “pass” on a single pass/fail test equate to a good product? 
  • Does a “fail” on a single pass/fail test mean a product has no credibility and shouldn’t be used? 
  • Does a single “test value” that is 10% greater than a competitor equate to a better product? 
  • Does a single “test value” that is 10% less than a competitor mean a product has no credibility and shouldn’t be used?

The answer: If these questions are roof membrane or roof system related, these single pass/fail tests do not indicate the overall performance of a roofing membrane or system.

A few definitions (according to Wikipedia):

  • Test (assessment): an assessment intended to measure the respondents' knowledge or other abilities”.
  • Test method: a definitive procedure that produces a test result”
  • Physical test: a qualitative or quantitative procedure that consists of determination of one or more characteristics of a given product, process or service according to a specified procedure.:

Look around your office: every facility has the person, people, or team who figure stuff out and get it done. This team may include architects, engineers, PhD’s, or other alphabet letters, as well as the resident logical industry experts/application specialists. The make-up of the team is not relevant, except to the extent that when you give them a static test, a minimum test result, appropriate funding, appropriate resources and time they will provide a product or a configuration that passes, is 10% better or jumps whatever hurdle has been placed in front of them.

This leads to the question of, how then can a roof membrane, product or system be properly evaluated? Take ownership. Do your research into the application, and obtain an understanding of the test method(s) and what the test results truly impact. Understand that no single test result alone means that a product is superior. It is the compilation of test results that must be reviewed and analyzed. Do not allow one single item to outweigh or overshadow the balance between the end attributes.

Finally, what is the current truth in service life of the membrane, product, or system that is proposed? While it may be true on paper that the "really smart people" discussed above are the newest, greatest, and best, have they performed in the real world, and more specifically, in your particular environment for 10, 15, 20, 25 or even 35 years? 

If the lab results indicate a balance between the properties AND the real life, real to your environment application validates the long term performance of the membrane, product or system, then specify it, install it, and use it!

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