Construction Materials Testing

Construction materials testing includes a wide range of tests and observations performed in the laboratory and the field during construction to determine compliance with the plans, specifications, and referenced industry standards.  Our personnel maintain International Code Council (ICC), American Concrete Institute (ACI), Post Tension Institute (PTI), National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE), American Welding Institute (AWI), Certified Welding Inspector (CWI), American Society of Non-Destructive Testing (ASNT), and other industry certifications indicative of their qualifications to perform material testing.  All of our construction material laboratories are audited by AASHTO Re:source and the CCRL to confirm test equipment, procedures, lab personnel, and reports comply with test protocols.  We maintain an electronic subscription to the American Society of Testing Material (ASTM) to provide our staff ready access to current test procedures.  We have the personnel, equipment, and systems in place to handle construction materials testing for projects of any size.


Undisturbed soil and compacted soil fill are commonly used to support buildings and pavements. Soil strength and compressibility necessary to support buildings and pavements are highly dependent on the soil plasticity, density, and moisture content.  Laboratory classification, compaction, and strength tests are commonly performed to determine if material proposed for use as soil fill satisfy specifications requirements. Field density tests are performed to determine if the level of compaction satisfies requirements. Our personnel are familiar with all laboratory tests and field tests/observations necessary to determine if soil fill placement conforms to project requirements.

Concrete and Masonry

S&ME performs pre-placement observations to determine if reinforcing steel quantity, grade, location, and clearance conform with project requirements.  We perform pre-placement observations of post tension concrete to determine if the location, size, and drape of post tension tendons conform with project requirements.  We also witness stressing of post tension cables to confirm elongations are consistent with expectations indicating the tendon is functioning consistently with design expectation.  We perform fresh tests in the field to determine concrete slump, air content, unit weight, and temperature for compliance with project requirements.  Cylinder, beam, prism, and cube specimens of cementitious materials are cast in the field and transported to the laboratory for strength testing.  All of our construction material laboratories perform high volume laboratory tests required for most projects.

In 1996, we purchased the former Tennessee Valley Authority Materials Laboratory formerly known as Singleton Laboratories that is located in Knoxville, Tennessee. In this laboratory, we can perform a number of less common construction material laboratory tests such as Los Angles abrasion testing of coarse aggregate; accelerated alkali-silica reactivity (ASR) testing of aggregates; shrinkage testing of concrete; cement and fly ash testing; height change of non-shrink grout; unconfined compression testing of rock cores; etc.


S&ME employs Certified Welding Inspector (AWS-CWI and ICC) and Non-Destructive Examination (NDE) certified technicians to observe the location of installed members and visually evaluate welded, structural connections for size and length indicated on the structural drawings and the visual requirements of AWS D-1.1. They are qualified to evaluate bolted connections for the correct number, type, size, hardware and torque. Full penetration welds at moment connections are evaluated using ultrasonic methods.  We have a full suite of NDE consulting and testing services.


S&ME performs field and laboratory asphalt testing services to document that asphalt pavement systems are constructed in accordance with the project plans and specifications. Batch plant laboratory testing includes mix verifications, batch plant testing to assess aggregate gradation, bitumen content, bulk specific gravity, and stability and flow.  Field testing includes observations of compaction procedures, including mix temperature, placement techniques, rolling patterns, and in place nuclear density testing.  Core samples are obtained for laboratory determination of asphalt pavement thickness, density, and asphalt content.


S&ME utilizes a cloud-based system to efficiently prepare, review, and electronically distribute reports of our tests and observations.   Technicians enter test data and write narrative reports summarizing tests and observations at the site and upload them to a private, secure cloud storage.  At our client’s request, non-reviewed Technician Field Records may be distributed from the field before our technician leaves the site.   After review, reports including all field activities are created and distributed electronically to clients as PDF files. File names are structured so all reports may be placed in the same folder and they will self-sort by report type and other parameters. Supporting documents and photos may be incorporated into the reviewed reports. Attachments may include pictures, sketches, more detailed test reports, etc.

The results of our tests and observations are compared to the project requirements to determine if they conform.  Items incorporated into the construction identified as not conforming to the project requirements at the time our technician leaves the site are designated Discrepancies.  Discrepancies are assigned a unique chronologic number and a Discrepancy Notice summarizing details of the non-conformance prepared. The Discrepancy Notice is updated as additional information or actions to resolve the non-conformance are taken and distributed to the same distribution.  Discrepancy Notices are tracked to resolution. Periodically, Discrepancy Notice Logs are prepared to summarize the status of Discrepancy Notices.