Materials Laboratory Testing

Materials such as concrete, cement and mortar have diverse properties that affect their performance and integrity over time. Therefore, an understanding of a material’s properties is crucial for determining if it is suitable for its intended use and, if it is not, to understand and rectify any problems.

At RSK, we focus on the speedy delivery of accurate results from materials testing; our laboratories are UKAS-accredited to ensure effective and accurate turnaround of sample analyses. Testing, including on-site sampling and testing if necessary, can be carried out for routine quality control purposes on behalf of materials suppliers or as part of defect investigations, both to assist our in house materials consultancy and structural investigation teams, and for external clients.

Tried-and-tested laboratories

The materials testing laboratory was formed as part of STATS Ltd in 1974 and became part of the RSK group in 2008. Joining RSK enabled expansion into a one-stop-shop facility with a broad range of test facilities and close relationships with specialist subcontractors that can undertake more specialist testing where needed.

Originally set up as a concrete testing laboratory, the materials laboratory now specialises in testing concrete, mortar and other cementitious materials, aggregate, bricks, natural stone and slate, artificial stone and slate, and timber. Testing is undertaken in accordance with British and European standards as well as ASTM International and other international standards on request.

Investigating material quality and defects

When investigating material qualities and defects, it is important to be sure that everything is done correctly and to stay within the appointed budgets and timeframes. Avoiding extra costs and delays means a delicate balance must be maintained to ensure the quality of the testing. We understand that every client wants to see value for money, so we do our best to ensure that we can offer that to them.

Providing rapid and reliable results

We are happy to offer professional advice on the services we can provide and to ensure reliable, rapid and efficient turnarounds for laboratory test results. We conduct testing on material condition, properties, modes of failure and deterioration, density and durability, and offer comprehensive strength tests. We can also offer special facilities for curing and storing concrete samples in controlled environmental conditions.

A flexible approach

We have over 45 years’ experience in providing on-site materials engineering services to the construction industry, including the operation of high-quality, UKAS-accredited, on-site project laboratories. Our main laboratory is in Hemel Hempstead, UK, and offers testing to both UK and international clients.

Our site engineers and technicians have the expertise and ability to take samples on-site, to undertake on site testing where appropriate and to provide quality control of site practices. RSK’s wider service offerings also enable us to offer clients a seamless experience whereby we can identify a problem through testing and then solve it through our structural maintenance and repair services. This saves time, and potentially money, for clients by eliminating the need to go through the process of hiring a separate contractor for additional services.

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Our Expertise

  • Physical testing

    Particle grading and shape testing, water absorption, density and porosity.

  • Mechanical testing

    Compressive and flexural strength, abrasion and wear resistance, tensile and bond strength.

  • Chemical testing

    Analysis of the sulphate, total sulphur, chloride and alkali content of concrete, mortar, aggregate, water and admixtures, the cement content of concrete, and the mix proportions of mortar. The interpretation of X-ray fluorescence and X-ray diffraction analyses is undertaken on our behalf by specialist subcontractors.

  • Petrographic descriptions and examinations

    For aggregate, stone, concrete and mortar, including a specialisation in historic materials. The interpretation of X-ray fluorescence and scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-Ray examinations is undertaken on our behalf by specialist subcontractors.

  • Durability testing

    Sulphate soundness testing, freeze–thaw resistance and alkali aggregate reactivity assessments.

  • In-service characteristics

    Slip resistance, concrete abrasion, dampness and water ingress testing.

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