The Constructor

How to Store, Stack, and Handle Construction Materials? [PDF]

Storing stacking and handling

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The construction materials shall be stored, stacked, and handled in such a manner so as to prevent deterioration, and intrusion of foreign matter and to ensure the preservation of their quality and fitness for the work. The materials shall be segregated as per their type, size, and length, and placed in neat, orderly piles that are safe against falling. 

If the piles are high, they shall be stacked at suitable intervals in height, and a passageway of 1m width is allowed in between the piles or stacks for inspection or removal.

The construction materials shall be stacked on well-drained, firm and unyielding surface and shall not be stacked to impose any undue stresses on walls or other structures.

In this article, we discuss the specification of storing, stacking, and handling of major construction materials at the site.

1. Cement

A. Storing and Stacking of Cement

  1. The cement shall be stored at the site in a building or a shed that is dry, moisture-proof, and leak-proof.
  2. The building or shed used for storage should have a minimum number of windows and close-fitting doors and should be kept closed as far as possible.
  3. The cement received in bags shall be kept in such a way that the bags are kept free from dampness or moisture.
  4. The cement bags shall be stacked off the floor on wooden planks in such a way as to keep them 150 to 200 mm clear from the ground, and space of 450mm minimum shall be left between the exterior walls and the stacks.
  5. The cement bags shall be stacked close to each other to reduce the circulation of air as much as possible. 
  6. The height of the stacks shall not exceed more than 15 bags to prevent lumping of cement under pressure.
  7. The width of the stack shall not exceed four-bag length or 3 meters.
  8. In stacks, more than eight bags high, the cement bags shall be arranged alternately lengthwise and crosswise to tie the stacks together and minimize the danger of toppling over.
  9. For extra safety during monsoon, or when it is expected to store for an unusually long period, the stake shall be completely enclosed by a waterproofing membrane such as polyethylene, which shall close on the top of the stack. 
  10. Drums or other heavy containers of cement shall not be stacked more than two layers high.

B. Handling of Cement

  1. The use of hooks shall not be allowed for the handling of cement bags.
  2. The workmen, handling bulk cement, shall wear protective clothing, respirators, and goggles to prevent dermatitis.
  3. The workers shall be provided with hand cream, petroleum jelly, or similar preparation for protection of exposed skin.
  4. When required to enter a silo or bin for the purpose of cleaning or other, the ejection system installed shall be shut down and locked out.
  5. When necessary for a workman to enter such a storage area, he shall wear a lifeline, with another workman attending the rope from outside the silo or hopper.

2. Masonry Units- Bricks

A. Storing and Stacking of Bricks

  1. The bricks shall not be dumped at the site; instead, they shall be stacked on dry firm grounds in regular tiers directly, as they are unloaded to minimize breakage and defacement of bricks.
  2. For the purpose of easy and proper inspection of quality and counting, the stacks shall be 50 bricks long and ten bricks high, the bricks being placed on edge, and preferably, the width of each stack shall be two bricks.
  3. The clear distance between adjacent stacks shall preferably be not less than 0.8 m.
  4. The bricks made from clays containing lime Kankar, the bricks in the stack, should be thoroughly soaked in water (docked) to prevent lime bursting. 
  5. The concrete blocks, stone blocks, etc., shall be stored in stacks of a height that does not damage the blocks in the lower layers nor there be fear of toppling of the stack. 
Fig 1: Stacking of Bricks

B. Handling of Bricks

  1. Bricks shall be loaded or unloaded a pair at a time unless palletized.

3. Aggregate

A. Storing and Stacking of Aggregates

  1. The aggregates shall be stored at the site on a hard, dry, and level platform.
  2. If such a surface is not feasible, a platform of planks or old corrugated iron sheets, or a floor of bricks, or a thin layer of lean concrete shall be made so as to prevent the admixture of clay, dust, vegetable and other foreign matter.
  3. The stacks of fine and coarse aggregate shall be kept in separate stockpiles sufficiently removed from each other or separated by dividing walls to prevent the material from getting intermixed.
  4. Fine aggregate shall be stacked in a place where loss due to the effect of wind is minimum.

B. Handling of Aggregates

  1. When cement bags are withdrawn from stockpiles, no overhang shall be permitted. 
  2. The employees required to enter hoppers shall be equipped with safety belts and lifelines, attended by another person. 
  3. The machine-driven hoppers, feeders, and loaders shall be locked in the off position prior to entry. 

4. Steel

A. Storing and Stacking of Steel

  1. The steel reinforcement shall be stored in a way as to prevent corrosion and distortion.
  2. It is recommended to coat reinforcement with cement wash before stacking to prevent scaling and rusting.
  3. The bars of different classification, sizes, and lengths shall be stored separately to facilitate issues in such sizes and lengths to minimize wastage is cut from standard lengths.
  4. In the case of long storage or coastal areas, reinforcement bars shall be stacked above ground level by a least 15 cm, and a layer of cement wash shall be given to prevent rusting and scaling.
  5. The structural steel of different sections, sizes, and lengths shall be stored separately, which shall be stored above floor level by at least 150mm upon platforms, or any other suitable supports to avoid distortion of sections.
  6. The ends of bars shall be painted with separate nominated colors for different diameter of the rebar.
Fig 2: Storage of Steel

B. Handling of Steel

  1. The tag lines shall be used to control the load in handling reinforcements or structural steel when a crane is employed.
  2. The heavy steel bundles shall not be carried on the shoulders of the workmen, but it shall be carried and lifted with the help of slings and tackles.

5. PVC Pipes

A. Storage and Stacking of PVC Pipes

  1. The pipes should be stored on a reasonably flat surface free from stones and sharp projections so that the pipe is supported adequately throughout its length. 
  2. The pipe shall not be stacked in large piles, especially underarm temperature conditions, as the bottom pipes may distort, thus giving rise to difficulty in jointing.
  3. The socket and spigot pipes should be stacked in layers with sockets placed at alternate ends of the stacks to avoid lopsided stacks.
  4. It is recommended not to store a pipe inside another pipe.
  5. The pipes shall not be stored in a stressed or bent condition or near a source of heat.
  6. The pipes must not be stacked more than 1.5 m high.
  7. In tropical conditions, pipes should be stored in the shade.
Fig 3: Storage of PVC Pipes

B. Handling of PVC Pipes

  1. The pipes shall be handled with great care in wintry conditions as they become brittle in very cold weather.

6. Paints, Varnishes, and Thinners

A. Storage and Stacking of Paints

  1. The paints, varnishes, lacquers, thinners, and other flammable materials shall be kept in properly sealed or closed containers.
  2. The containers shall be kept in a well-ventilated location, free from excessive heat, smoke, sparks, or flame. 
  3. The floor of the paint stores shall be made up of 10 cm thick loose sand.
  4. Paint materials in quantities other than required for daily use shall be kept stocked under regular storage place.
  5. Temporary electrical wiring/fittings shall not be installed in the paint store.  When electric lights, switches, or electrical equipment are necessary, they shall be of explosion-proof design. 

B. Handling of Paints

  1. To prevent the accumulation of flammable vapors, adequate ventilation shall be provided in all areas where painting is carried out.
  2. When the painting is done in confined spaces where flammable or explosive vapors may develop, any necessary heat shall be provided through ductwork remote from the source of flame.
  3. The sources of ignition, such as open flame and exposed heating elements, shall not be permitted in area or rooms where spray painting is done nor shall smoking be allowed there.
  4. The buckets containing sand and fire extinguisher (foam type) shall be kept ready for use in case of fire.
  5. Each workman handling lead-based paints shall be issued ½ - liter milk per day for his personal consumption.

7. Tiles

A. Storage and Stacking of Tiles

  1. All tiles shall be stacked on a well-treated and hard surfaces in layers and different tiers. 
  2. Tiles shall be stacked in such a way that molds surface of one faces that of another.
  3. The height of the tiles stack shall not be more than 1m.
  4. Tiles of different quality, size, and thickness shall be stacked separately to facilitate easy removal for use in work.
  5. Tiles, when supplied by manufacturers in wooden crates, shall be stored as such, and the crates shall be opened one at a time when required for use.

B. Handling of Tiles

  1. Taking out of the tiles shall start from the top layer only.
  2. Tiles should be handled in pairs and shall not be thrown. 

FAQs on Storage, Stacking, and Handling of Construction Materials.

What is the importance of proper storage, stacking of construction material?

The construction materials shall be stored, stacked, and handled in such a manner to prevent deterioration and intrusion of foreign matter and to ensure the preservation of their quality and fitness for the work.

How to stack cement bags at site?

The cement bags shall be stacked off the floor on wooden planks in such a way as to keep them 150 to 200 mm clear from the ground, and space of 450mm minimum shall be left between the exterior walls and the stacks. The cement bags shall be stacked close to each other to reduce the circulation of air as much as possible, with the height of the stack not exceeding 15 bags and width not exceeding four bags.

How to stack steel at site?

The structural steel of different sections, sizes, and lengths shall be stored separately, which shall be stored above floor level by at least 150mm upon platforms, or any other suitable supports to avoid distortion of sections.

Read More:
1. Storage of Cement – Precautions, Duration and Place of Storage
2. Components or Materials of Concrete and their Storage Methods
3. Storage Silos – Types & Advantages

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