Many masonry professionals consider ASTM standards nothing more than mandatory references for their documents. When things go well, these professionals assume the standards have been followed. But when disputes occur, contesting parties research the standards for guidance in assessing blame and remediation.

But we all know that ASTM standards are much more than rulebooks. These documents reflect the consensus of proven approaches to quality and performances for the products and methods they describe. And standards are most effective when everyone in the construction process understand them.

Earlier this week, our industry took an important action to help foster better understanding of the key masonry standards commonly cited in commercial construction. ASTM hosted an outreach event to architects, engineers and contractors on Monday, June 10, 2013. This free program preceded the start of ASTM Technical Committee meetings that occur during the week.

The Workshop for Local Engineers and Architects has two parts. First there was a 90-minute technical session. Members from the three key ASTM technical committees, C12 on Mortars and Grouts for Unit Masonry, C15 on Manufactured Masonry Units and D08 on Roofing and Waterproofing, are explaining key ASTM standards. Several standards to be reviewed include: C216, C270, C-981, C1713, D5295, and D7186.

Following these presentation, there was a one hour reception. During the reception, attendees had the opportunity to meet with knowledgeable ASTM committee members to learn more about the standard development process.

This is a great step for our industry. Ian Chin, the Workshop’s chair, should be commended for taking the lead to reach out to industry professionals. Chin’s committee’s goal is not only to educate the attendees on ASTM, but to also invite them to become ASTM technical committee members.

Many of our industry associations are working closely with ASTM to invite local masonry contractors and designers to the meeting. But for efforts like this to be successful, everyone’s help is needed. Hopefully Chin’s committee will try this out reach effort again in December at the ASTM Jacksonville, FL meeting

If you have any questions about how to help, email Ian Chin ( or Kevin Shanahan (