Will Your Building Products and Materials Weather the Storm of Environmental Exposure?
Accelerated weathering testing is used to simulate the effects of prolonged exposure to the elements on material performance and durability
22 November 2022
When embarking on any large-scale construction project, a number of factors must be considered, including budget, location, timeline, and materials. When looking at building materials specifically, it's important to think about the environmental elements to which they will be exposed, like seasonal variations in temperature, solar radiation, wind, rain, and storms. As a building products or materials manufacturer, testing your products to ensure their performance isn't degraded due to exposure to environmental conditions is imperative. How do you do this? The best way is through accelerated weathering testing, which helps to verify that your products will stand up against a variety of environmental conditions.
What is accelerated weathering testing?
Accelerated weathering testing is used to simulate the potentially damaging effects of the long-term exposure of materials to the (combined/cyclic) effects of:
- High temperatures
- Salt fog exposure
- Low temperatures
- Thermal cycling (e.g., freeze-thaw)
When we start an accelerated weathering testing project, we often get the question of how many hours of testing equals days of exposure? The answer is that variables like weather, climate, and geographical location create very different environments that cannot be standardized through testing. While no direct correlation can be made between accelerated weathering duration and actual outdoor exposure, performance measurements, including appearance and mechanical properties after controlled accelerated weathering exposures, provide valuable data regarding the effects of exposure.
Why is it important?
The number-one reason to do accelerated weathering testing is proactive risk mitigation through quality assurance. It helps us identify failures before product makes it to market.
Historically, benchmark exposures have been established for products known to be able to withstand a predetermined number of hours of weathering. When an innovative material is introduced or needs to be evaluated, it should be able to withstand the established benchmark – exceeding it is even better. This is how we compare new materials against established ones.
Accelerated weathering testing is an effective and objective way for an innovative material to showcase its durability is by:
- Retaining performance and/or characteristics following longer exposure durations, mechanical properties for example should be maintained
- Exhibiting less deleterious effects following comparable exposure durations
When considering alternate applications for historical materials, accelerated weathering testing assists suitability evaluations and supports the determination of materials' durability limits (e.g., progressive aging effects).
Accelerated weathering techniques provide a way to better understanding material performance, mitigating risk, and assuring suitability. The different exposure techniques intend to simulate a variety of applications; selecting the most suitable one is key when evaluating your product. It's important to remember that accelerated weathering cannot be directly correlated to a number of days, months, or years in the field, but does serve as an effective comparative technique.
Accelerated weathering initiatives are most valuable when conducted with a sufficient sampling and supplemented by pre- and post-exposure evaluations. This helps to understand potential failures and circumvent them vs. reacting to them. In a nutshell, accelerated weathering supports quality assurance, control, and consistency for your building products and materials.
To learn more about accelerated weathering testing for building products, watch our on-demand webinar – Accelerated Weathering Testing: The What, How, Why & Where. During the presentation, we go into more detail about test methods for each area of exposure, present case studies, and provide an overview of Intertek's capabilities in the area.