ASTM D751 and High Temperature Dead Load Testing

Many of the physical property testing methods listed in the various generic membrane standards from ASTM have their origins or reference in ASTM D751 Standard Test Methods for Coated Fabrics.  The physical properties used in the membrane standards evaluate thickness, tensile, tear, breaking strengths, elongation and a host of other membrane characteristics.  When looked at individually they appear to be either evaluating or characterizing the compound or the fabric reinforcements only.

Seaman Corporation developed and has been utilizing a test method that evaluates the actual integration of the compound and fabric together for better than 50-years.  The test has its roots in the high performance architectural fabric business that Seaman Corporation pioneered in the 1960’s.  The test measures the shear load carrying capability of the welded fabric.

Like roofing, the architectural fabric industry requires reliable membrane weld strength and integrity in order to perform.  And high temperature dead load testing is one of the most extreme measures for weld and membrane integrity there is.  It is listed in ASTM D751 but few people realize this.

The test involves suspending a weight from the end of a 1-in strip of welded membrane while being heated in a laboratory oven.  And even though the test was developed for architectural fabrics, Seaman Corporation evaluates the quality of our manufacturing process for FiberTite according to the same criteria.  The requirement for FiberTite is that it holds 50% of its breaking strength at 165°F for 4-hours.  That means that the 1-in welded sample of our nominal 36-mil membrane must hold 150-lb at 165°F for 4-hrs without deformation, slippage or yarn pull-out.

The photo attached to this article shows nominal 36-mil FiberTite (membrane on the left) during testing alongside two competitive membranes.  Now we know it wouldn’t be fair to subject the competition to the same robust load as FiberTite so we just expected them to withhold 50% of their own breaking strength.  No such luck as the photo clearly illustrates and to date we have yet to find a competitive membrane that can pass the high temperature dead load test alongside FiberTite.

If you’re looking for an ASTM test to really ensure that your expectations for a long term, high performance membrane is installed on your roofing project, use ASTM D751 Dead Load requirements in your specification.

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About Mr FiberTite

After 10-years in Local 88 out of Canton Ohio, the opportunity to drink the FiberTite Kool Aid came in 1984.  Since then I've been a student as well as a teacher in all manner of roofing with a focus on the engineering, design and installation of thermoplastic single ply roofing systems.  The industry is growing in complexity so there's plenty of opportunity to learn and sharpen your skills no matter who you are.  Hence, one of the most important things I've learned is that "to sharpen the blade, you have to rub steel with steel".


FiberTite® is a Registered Trademark of Seaman Corporation.  The views and opinions expressed on this site are not necessarily those of Seaman Corporation.

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