December 2023 Newsletter

**** The 4specs Perspective

Specifier Comments

The 4specs forum has a wide range of specifiers and architects registered. 4specs restricts registration in the 4specs Forum to specifiers and architects to minimize product promotions and spam. Recently there has been a series of postings I thought were appropriate for manufacturers and other readers of our monthly newsletter to read and consider.

My team was just looking at a technical data sheet posted online by one of the largest silicone sealant manufacturers in the world and noticed this caveat:

Typical Properties
Specification Writers: These values are not intended for use in preparing specifications.

I wondered "What in the world does that mean?" so I called the manufacturer and was told that they include that clause in all of their technical data sheets. Tech support said that we should only base our spec content on their guide specs. Of course I asked where to find their guide spec only to find that it's not posted on their website. Only by calling the technical support line and registering with their technical support person can I receive a copy of their guide spec, presuming that they can find a copy to send me.


We once prepared an entire library of guide specifications for a large sealant manufacturer. Two years later, their project manager told us that the documents still hadn't cleared their legal deparatment - so they continued to use their wildly inadequate existing documents. We removed this manufacturer from our specifications.

We just gave up on using a downloaded manufacturer guide spec after the document remained locked waiting for our PIN number.

Sometimes you wonder if some of these folks are listening to anyone. The best manufacturers are listening, and they get a position in specifiers' work.

Mmmm... I just had a similar experience where certain information was omitted from the Technical Data Sheets. I was told that it was too technical to be included.

Not specifications, but similar: I was working on a lighting design for an office project and found some really lovely fixtures. The manufacturer had PDF cutsheets available on their website online. You could LOOK at them but the security was set such that you couldn't download them which also meant that you mark them up, couldn't assemble them, you couldn't print them. I emailed them about this, explaining it was a problem. They wouldn't let me use their cutsheets without signing an NDA. The cutsheets were viewable on line, so anything proprietary was FREELY available -- but there really wasn't MUCH info on the cutsheets anyhow.

I told them thanks, but no thanks. I would find another company's product to use.

I'm wondering if we need to require certified, independent test reports instead of product data sheets from manufacturers that include this sort of caveat.

How are we supposed to believe anything they tell us?

Please note that my postings are my own and may not reflect the point of view of my current or past employers or co-workers.

I am actually someone who checks ASTMs (and other referenced standards) to see if they are applicable. And one flooring company, you could tell that the graphic designer who set up the product data sheet didn't know much about what was on the data sheet, because none of it made sense. I contacted the manufacturer for clarification, and pointed out the issues with the product data sheet. The technical person with whom I spoke was very helpful, and gave me information that was germane, but that company never did revise those product data sheets.

I was less than thrilled with the whole experience but we were locked into this product by the client.

(I check referenced standards because of something that happened years ago: I used to take my dog to a dog friendly beach. One day, a bunch of flyers were posted saying NO DOGS ON BEACH and at the bottom was a reference to an ordinance. Everyone assumed it related to DOGS and BEACHES. I looked it up: It was an ordinance related to posting flyers. The take away from that experience was that people will try to snow you with numbers, assuming you won't bother to look them up.)

Different discussion:

A brief rant: We appreciate you and the support you give to us in our role as specifiers. Please let your marketing department know that we do not need to receive Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Ground Hog Day, and Easter greeting emails from them. There are over 12,000 building product manufacturers in the U.S.

Having to register and come up with a password in order to use a site makes me terribly disinclined to specify a product from that company.

And that's why we had the "No Registration" campaign years ago. Maybe it's time to resurrect it? Many of us wore buttons at a convention - provided by Colin - with the words "No Registration" behind a circle with a slash through it. (I don't seem to have a picture of it.)

I'd settle for having reps stop contacting my Architects directly about projects in construction with requests to specify their products. The jobs have been bid and are in construction. Your contact is inappropriate. Just stop it.

Oh, I don't get quite so many blind emails anymore since I started unsubscribing from, and even blocking, unsolicited emails. If I receive 3 or more unsolicited emails in a month from any one source, they're relegated to the spam folder.

Contact me if you have any questions or suggestions.



Colin Gilboy
Publisher - 4specs
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