At present there are a myriad of changes being proposed for the ASTM Standards that govern stucco in the Florida Building Code. There are two basic types of changes that are undertaken, editorial and content, and by far the most common are editorial. This involves things like making a term used in one section consistent with the term used in another section or in a referenced standard. Sometimes this is a daunting task as definitions must be checked in all the appropriate standards and then checked against definitions for the same term in the general committee. Mostly this type of change has little effect on the application of plaster. It is the content changes that can come back to bite you.

Rest assured that for the most part the members of the task group that recommend these changes are trying either to clarify the language currently in the standard, update current practices to accommodate new products or methods or to assign responsibility to the best suited party. It would seem on the surface that this should be a fairly easy task to complete. However, it can take many years to actually change a content section. ASTMs are regarded as the premier standardization format in the world. They are recognized and used by many countries, though written and adapted by members throughout the U.S and Canada.

Therein lies the rub.

Work Together

Content changes must be approved by everyone in both countries. Since plastering is done differently in different locations, finding common ground can be difficult. Consider the desert climate of the southwest U.S vs. the wet climate of the southeast. For example, do they really need two layers of water-resistant barrier over frame construction in an area where it rains once per century whether they need it or not? So, it takes time.

Here are some of the items currently being considered:

ASTM C926

1. Add definitions for “barrier wall” and “drainage wall” to help differentiate between requirements for direct applied stucco (over block, concrete, etc.) and stucco applied to a metal plaster base.

2. Add a definition for “nominal thickness.” This one is an obvious problem to any stucco contractor. The proposed definition is, “a thickness to which a variation is to be expected and anticipated due to the nature of the application process and the allowable variation of the plane tolerance of the base.” There are, however, two sides to this argument. On the one hand, leaving the term open, as in this definition, can be viewed as protecting the sub from the problem of substrate abnormalities or as giving the sub a way to skimp on the coverage. On the other hand, defining an acceptable depth tolerance factor could help as well. The problem lies in what is an acceptable factor for plus and minus. Some have suggested percentages, but how do you measure 10 percent plus-or-minus while applying a finish coat of 1/8 of an inch? How about a factor of less than an 1/8 inch to more than 1/4 inch? How do you allow less than a 1/8-inch to a 1/8 inch finish? It becomes too convoluted to attach specific tolerance to specific coats. My personal opinion is that any specific requirement is just feed for the legal profession. After all a nominal 2x4 isn’t; it’s 1½ inch by 3½ inch and I don’t hear lawyers griping about that.

3. Add definition of “solid substrate.” This is for clarification purposes to differentiate between concrete, masonry, brick, stone, precast, etc., and sheathing, wood, gypsum or any other. This term may get changed to “solid base” but either way, the rest of the standard will change to reflect the new definition.

4. Add to General Information: A1.6.2 The plane tolerance of the substrate shall be not more than 1/4 inch in 10 feet (3.1 mm/m).

To clarify that substrates out-of plane by more than this are subject to rejection by the sub as unfit for plastering.

5. Add to A2.3 Relief from Stresses: A2.3.1 For information on the requirements for control joints and perimeter relief, where a metal plaster base is employed, see the Installation Section of Specification C 1063. Solid plaster bases are exempt from these criteria, except as stated in Section 5.2.2.

To clarify that control joints are not necessary in direct applied stucco.

6. Re-write Section 5.2.3. and add Section 5.2.4

5.2 Surfaces of solid bases to receive plaster, such as masonry, stone, cast-in-place or precast concrete shall be straight and true within 1/4-inch in 10 feet (2.1 mm/m) and shall be free of form oil or other elements, which would interfere with bonding. Conditions where the surfaces are out of tolerance shall be corrected prior to the application of the plaster. Form ties or other obstructions shall be removed or trimmed back even with the surface of the solid base.

7. Separates bond issues due to substrate abnormalities from thickness issues due to out-of-plane substrates. Thickness issues frequently relate to out of tolerance shells as it is not uncommon to encounter concrete construction that does not comply with ACI 117. Hence the approach to remedy should be contained in the standard. The solution should be addressed by several parties including the designers, contractors and owners and not dictated by the sub.

These are just some of the proposals being considered at present. There are at least as many in C1063 as well. Bear in mind that this language is merely proposed at this point. It is likely that each item will change somewhat in its final format, if they pass at all.

Some of these changes can have far-reaching consequences. Knowing the content of the standards can help keep you out of court and save time and money on call-backs. Copies of the current standards are available for a small fee at www.astm.org.

Sidebar: Education and Initiative Serve Regional Association Members by Janice Ficarrotto

The Florida Wall & Ceiling Contractors Association is seeking new ideas to gain new member support from throughout the industry. Education has always been-and continues to be-the main focus of the organization’s primary efforts. With the Chinese drywall issue affecting our state from coast to coast, many of our members have concentrated their efforts on remediation work over the past two years.

During the 2010 membership year, the association implemented a series of new programs held in conjunction with a regional meeting and table show in various areas of the state.

With ample time provided for associate members to network with contractors, FWCCA was able to bring a series of educational programs to contractors and employees on a wide array of topics both educational and technical. By reaching out to contractors around the state, we were able to create a forum through which we can provide educational opportunities to members at no charge.

In today’s competitive marketplace we were able to find a way to bring programs to members at the local level rather than burden them with traveling throughout Florida to attend programs of importance. The new alliance between associate members and the organization proved to be extremely beneficial to all participating and thus the program has been extended into the 2011 year.

One of the newest projects currently being undertaken by the organization is a new educational program entitled “Project Manager’s Bootcamp.” This is a program wherein various aspects of project management are covered and delivery will be conducted by both contractor and associate members alike. While this program is now in the drafting stage, it is a program that will be delivered to the membership of FWCCA at no cost. If a company is a current paid member of the association, they are entitled to send employees to the program at no additional expense.

While Florida is experiencing the effects of this economic slump, we do believe that we are beginning to see some movement in construction here in our state. While federally-funded public work drove much of the job opportunities in 2010, according to Construction Executive Report, we expect an upsurge in private owner residential, healthcare and power construction in 2011. A recent 2011 outlook report expects overall construction starts to advance 8 percent this year, with single family housing to rise by 27 percent, new construction of multifamily housing to rise by 24 percent and commercial buildings to rise by 16 percent after falling 17 percent last year. We believe the bottom line is the non-residential construction recession is largely over but 2011 will be associated with grudgingly slow progress.

Janice Ficarrotto is the executive vice president at the FWCCA. She can be reached at (407) 260-1313.