A Supplemental Test Method for Crack Isolation Simulation

- Monday, November 15, 2021

Chuck Fifelski, Senior Technical Service Specialist

I recently shared my thoughts about the Crack Isolation Simulation Test and its parameters in Tile Magazine, “Technical Focus: A Supplemental Test Method for Crack Isolation Simulation.”

Waterproofing and crack isolation membranes are widely used in the tile industry as part of substrate preparation prior to the installation of ceramic tiles or similar rigid materials. Membranes that deliver crack isolation performance are intended to maintain their integrity and prevent tile cracking, which minimizes costly repairs. Ensuring the integrity of these membranes is essential for guaranteeing the efficacy and longevity of any tile project, making this a necessary consideration for industry professionals.

ANSI Crack Isolation Test
Testing is a key determinant of the membrane’s performance. Currently, crack isolation testing of these membranes is based upon the industry standard: the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) 118.12, Section 5.4: System Crack Resistance Test method. 

One drawback of the ANSI crack isolation test method is a large, heavy set-up composed of cement pavers, a membrane, tiles and grout mounted on steel plates. Because the ANSI 118.12 test apparatus is custom-designed, large in size and requires significant quantities of materials, the test is impractical for a typical lab. In fact, only a few laboratories in the nation have this scale of testing capability, limiting the number of tests that can be performed.

Furthermore, the ANSI 118.12 method provides standards of performance with a pass/fail grading system, with crack distance at failure as the only test result (this relates to the crack-bridging performance of the membrane compound). While this is certainly valuable information, there is a need for additional information on the elastic behavior of the latex polymer and membrane as stress is applied during the test. 

Given these drawbacks, the team at Trinseo developed the Crack Isolation Simulation Test. 

Crack Isolation Simulation Test
The Crack Isolation Simulation Test method was designed to generate supplemental information useful to the development of polymer latexes and compounds primarily used in waterproofing and crack isolation membranes. One of the benefits of this new test method is that test specimens are smaller, allowing for the use of less materials. Since test specimens do not need to be mounted on a large test apparatus, many specimens can be assembled and tested in a given period of time, which supports reproducibility and repeatability data generation. Furthermore, the test set-up allows for the use of a common tensile tester and is designed using readily available materials. Altogether, these features and the easy set-up enable test performance in most standard lab settings.

Notably, the Crack Isolation Simulation Test includes measurements of the maximum tensile force applied to the tile/membrane assembly prior to failure, and the force of stress relaxation that can be used to predict the performance of a membrane system if specimen failure occurs prematurely. This is important, as there can be significant differences in quarry tile tensile strength and test specimen consistency.

While the Crack Isolation Simulation Test method is not intended to replace the ANSI 118.12 method, I believe it can augment the information available to industry professionals in making the best decision for the project.

About Trinseo

Trinseo (NYSE:TSE) is a global materials solutions provider and manufacturer of plastics, latex binders, and synthetic rubber with a focus on delivering innovative, sustainable, and value-creating products that are intrinsic to our daily lives. Trinseo is dedicated to making a positive impact on society by partnering with like-minded stakeholders, and supporting the sustainability goals of our customers in a wide range of end-markets including automotive, consumer electronics, appliances, medical devices, packaging, footwear, carpet, paper and board, building and construction, and tires. Trinseo had approximately $3.0 billion in net sales in 2020, with 17 manufacturing sites around the world, and approximately 2,600 employees. For more information, please visit: www.trinseo.com.

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