Click here to visit
the MTL Product Catalog
Manufacturers Technical Literature
This site presented by
NIA | National Insulation Association

Print This Page Printable Version

DISCLAIMER: Unless specifically noted at the beginning of the article, the content, calculations, and opinions expressed by the author(s) of any article in Insulation Outlook are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of NIA. The appearance of an article, advertisements, and/or product or service information in Insulation Outlook does not constitute an endorsement of such products or services by NIA. The information is provided as a reference service only, and no claims for technical accuracy can be guaranteed. Material may have become outdated since publication. The user may want to verify the technical accuracy prior to use of this information. The article may not be reproduced in any means, in whole or in part, without the prior written permission of the publisher and NIA. To reprint this information, contact the NIA offices.

ASTM C16 Setting the Standards for Insulation

Committee has jurisdiction over more than 134 thermal insulation standards

By Gordon H. Hart P.E.

Founded in 1898, ASTM International is a not-for-profit organization that provides a global forum for the development and publication of voluntary consensus standards for materials, products, systems, and services, including thermal insulation.

Formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials, ASTM International provides standards that are accepted and used in research and development, product testing, quality systems, and commercial transactions around the globe.


ASTM C16, the committee on thermal insulation, last met in September 2002, in Dallas for its semi-annual meeting. As usual, there were a number of different task group meetings. Among the items discussed were existing and proposed standards, subcommittee meetings, the main committee meeting and a Monday night forum on the National Insulation Association's (NIA) National Insulation Training Program (NITP). In this article, we'll discuss the ASTM committees, with an overview, committee scopes and a summary of the activities.

Committee Overview

The ASTM Committee C16 on Thermal Insulation was formed in 1938. The C16 committee meets twice a year, usually in April and October, with approximately 120 members attending for three days of technical meetings, capped by a discussion on relevant topics in the thermal insulation industry. The committee, with a current membership of approximately 350 people, has jurisdiction of more than 134 standards, published in the Annual Book of ASTM Standards, Volume 04.06. These standards have and continue to play a pre-eminent role in all aspects important to the thermal insulation industry, including products, systems, and associated coatings and coverings, excluding refractories.

Committee Scope

According to ASTM, the scope of the C16 committee "shall be the development of standards, promotion of knowledge, and stimulation of research pertaining to thermal insulation materials, products, systems, and associated coatings and coverings, but not including insulating refractories. These activities shall be coordinated with those of other ASTM Committees and national and international organizations having similar interest."

Scopes of Subcommittees

C16.16: US Delegation to ISO/TC 163

For this subcommittee, the scope is standardization in the field of thermal insulation, including terminology, test methods, calculation methods and specifications for thermal insulation materials, components, constructions and systems, including a general review and coordination of work on thermal insulation within ISO. Excluded are test and calculation methods, which are treated by other ISO technical committees after agreement with these technical committees.

C16.20: Homogeneous Inorganic Thermal Insulations

The scope of this subcommittee is to develop and maintain standard test methods, definitions and nomenclature, recommended practices, classifications and specifications for all homogeneous inorganic thermal insulation materials under C16.00 jurisdiction, except those assigned to subcommittee C16.21 and C16.23.

C16.21: Reflective Insulation

The scope of this subcommittee is to develop and maintain product specifications and test methods applicable to thermal insulations, which depend essentially on the reflectance of heat for their effectiveness. Test methods are those not generally applicable to other forms of thermal insulation or associated materials. Jurisdiction of this subcommittee on building type constructions include only materials or assemblies consisting of one or more heat reflective (low emissivity) surface(s), such as metallic foil, unmounted or mounted on thin membrane(s), such as paper or fibrous or foam sheets, all less than 1/8 inch in thickness.

C16.22: Organic and Nonhomogeneous Inorganic Thermal Insulations

The scope of this subcommittee is to develop and maintain standard test methods, definitions and nomenclature, recommended practices, classifications and specifications for all organic and non-homogeneous inorganic thermal insulation materials under C16.00 jurisdiction, except those assigned to subcommittees C16.21 and C16.23.

C16.23: Blanket and Loose Fill Insulation

The scope of this subcommittee is to develop and maintain product specifications, and recommended practices and test methods (when not under the jurisdiction of a methods subcommittee) for all thermal insulation materials under C16.00 jurisdiction, except those assigned to subcommittees C16.20, C16.21 and C16.22.

C16.24 Health and Safety Hazard Potentials

The scope of this subcommittee is to develop and review standards related to potential health and safety aspects associated with the installation and use of thermal insulation materials, accessories and systems.

C16.30: Thermal Measurements (Including Calculation Methods)

The scope of this subcommittee is to develop and maintain test methods and recommended practices relating to the transfer of energy within and through thermal insulating materials and systems.

C16.31 Chemical and Physical Properties

The scope of this subcommittee is to develop and maintain test methods and practices related to chemical and selected physical properties of thermal insulating materials.

C16.32: Mechanical Properties

The scope of this subcommittee is to develop and maintain test methods and practices related to selected mechanical and physical properties of thermal insulation and associated materials.

C16.33: Insulation Finishes and Moisture

The scope of this subcommittee is to develop and maintain material specifications, test methods, recommended practices and classification systems: (1) applicable to coatings, coverings, adhesives and sealants used in association with thermal insulations; and (2) involving the transfer of vapor through thermal insulation and associated materials, and involving the accumulation of moisture in thermal insulating materials and systems.

C16.40: Insulation Systems

The scope of this subcommittee is the development and maintenance of performance specifications and standard practices for thermal insulation systems. The systems include all of the individual components combined in a manner to provide an effective control of heat transfer and moisture transmission within the insulation systems under the operational and environmental conditions of its intended use. Such components, if part of the system, will include the thermal insulation, supports, securements, and protective coverings.

Overview of C16 Meeting

Most of the C16 subcommittees are involved with materials and subjects relating to both mechanical insulation and building envelope insulation. Since NIA's member contractors, fabricators, and laminators primarily deal with either mechanical insulation or metal building insulation, this report only addresses the standards relating to those materials.

Pipe and Equipment Insulation Fabrication

The C16.40 subcommittee has been working for several years on developing a new standard on this topic. In the process, this task group (TG) has written a draft standard for fabricating cellular glass insulation only, and in the process developing another draft standard for cellular glass block only (without fabrication). At the spring 2003 meeting, the TG will discuss this draft fabrication standard for cellular glass only.

C450, "Prefabrication and Field Fabrication of Thermal Insulating Fitting Covers"

A recent ballot was held to put this standard's adjunct on "Recommended Dimensions Standard" onto a computer disk, allowing extensive dimensional charts to be accessible on CD as a PDF file. This was scheduled to be available by the end of the 2002.

C533, "Calcium Silicate Pipe and Block Insulation"

A ballot was recently held on a revised standard, and the result was a negative vote. This was because members believed there was a need for mandatory moisture content testing to be included in the standard prior to testing. This negative was found persuasive. As a result, when SC C16.33 has completed its efforts in writing a moisture content test, it will be added to this material standard for calcium silicate.

C547, "Mineral Fiber Pipe Insulation"

A ballot was recently held on a revised standard, which resulted in a negative vote stipulating that this type of material should be required to be tested for water vapor permeability (with no jacketing). The standards committee (SC) and the main committee found this negative to be non-persuasive; the revised standard will become the new standard C547.

C522, "Cellular Glass Block & Pipe Insulation"

As with the previously mentioned C533, the TG agreed that this standard should eliminate the water absorption test (which is currently part of this material standard), when a new, stand-alone testing standard becomes available.

C585, "Inner and Outer Diameters of Rigid Thermal Insulation for Nominal Sizes of Pipe and Tubing"

The TG recently made some changes to the existing standard. These included adding a table for outer diameter tolerances, inside diameter tolerances and maximum outer diameters, while deleting wall thickness tables. This revised standard will be concurrently ballot, before C16.20 and C16.

C612, "Mineral Fiber Board and Block Thermal Insulation"

The TG is in the process of revising this standard and will have the new draft distributed for a concurrent SC and main committee ballot. This draft will include an exothermic test for products requiring a heat-up schedule in one of the types of mineral fiber insulation.

Microporous Insulation

The task group developing a new standard on this material hasn't met for several meetings. As a result, the TG will be disbanded.

C534, "Preformed Flexible Elastomeric Thermal Insulation in Sheet and Tubular Form"

This TG recently put a new draft on a ballot, and the draft received negative feedback concerning minor changes to the material flexibility and linear shrinkage sections of the specification, which were found persuasive. The new draft incorporating the changes will be reballoted concurrently with C16.22 and the main committee prior to the spring 2003 meeting.

C1126, "Faced or Unfaced Rigid Cellular Phenolic Thermal Insulation"

A revised draft of this material standard was recently put on a ballot and received negative comments that had to be addressed in the TG meeting. One negative involved "produced with vapor barrier facing," since these facings are frequently applied by a fabricator, as opposed to the manufacturer. As a result, the TG decided to change the Scope of C1126 to read, "This specification applies to cellular phenolic thermal insulation. Boards may be faced or unfaced. Tubular forms covered by this specification shall be unfaced." Also, a note will be added, stating, "If a facer or vapor barrier is to be used for the tubular form, then refer to Practice C921 to aid material selection."

Organic Foam Insulations

In several task groups, there was discussion about upcoming changes in the type of blowing agents that will be used in the future. Some currently used blowing agents will not be allowed in the future, and will have to be replaced with alternatives. When these blowing changes occur there will be changes in physical properties of the insulations involved. Because the exact type of alternate blowing agent hasn't yet been determined, it's not known whether these changes in physical properties will be positive or negative. The insulation types involved are phenolic and polyisocyanurate types. These changes will occur in the next 12 to 24 months.

C168, Terminology

This TG has had on the ballot different draft definitions for "fibrous glass" and for "mineral wool." In each ballot cycle they are slightly changed, so they will again be sent to members in a slightly modified form.

Monday Night Forum

Ron King, representing NIA, addressed the Monday Night Forum. His subject was the NITP. The forum was well attended, with about 60 people present (about half of this meeting's total attendees). The Monday Night Forum for the spring 2003 C16 meeting will address "How to Get Mold and How to Get Rid of Mold in Buildings," presented by Jeff Huddleston of Performance Abatement Services.

Spring 2003 Meeting

The spring 2003 meeting will be held at the Westin/Hyatt Crown Centers in Kansas City, Mo., April 6 - 9. The Monday Night Forum will be held April 7 at 6 p.m. at the Westin. For more information about ASTM and the C16 committee on thermal insulation, contact ASTM at (610) 832-9585 or on the Internet at www.astm.org.

This article appeared in the February 2003 issue of Insulation Outlook.

  • Subscribe to Insulation Outlook magazine
  • Want to respond to this article? Interested in authoring an article for a future issue of Insulation Outlook? Contact the Editor


Gordon H. Hart P.E.

Gordon H. Hart is a consulting engineer for Artek Engineering, LLC, having spent over 35 years in the thermal insulation industry. Mr. Hart is an active member of ASTM committees C16 on Thermal Insulation and F25 on Marine Technology, ASHRAE’s Technical Committee on Insulation for Mechanical Systems, and the National Insulation Association’s (NIA’s) Technical Information Committee. Mr. Hart has engineering degrees from Princeton University and Purdue University and is a Registered Professional Engineer. He can be reached at: gordon.hart@artekengineering. com.

back to top

All content copyright © 1996 - 2016 National Insulation Association.
12100 Sunset Hills Road, Suite 330 · Reston, VA 20190
(703) 464-6422 · fax (703) 464-5896
Trademarks and Terms of Use  PDF · Privacy Policy  PDF · Contact Us