Is your product in MasterFormat?

A marketing maxim says sales depend on three things: 1. Location, 2. Location, and 3. Location.

In construction, the location of your product information is determined by MasterFormat. MasterFormat is the industry standard for organizing construction information according to the type of work being performed. It is used to organize construction specifications, cost data, schedules of values, and other project data. Building product manufacturers need to know the MasterFormat sections where their products should be specified.

What happens, however, if your product doesn't fit into an existing MasterFormat section? This can occur whenever a new type of product is brought to market, or when new demands on buildings requires the creation of new building solutions.

Fortunately, there the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) and its partners in MasterFormat have created a means for proposing revisions. Revisions can be proposed online at, and the MasterFormat Maintenance Task Team meets each summer to consider revisions.

Here are some examples of recent revisions:

Section 03 35 33 - Polished Concrete Finishing: Polished concrete has gained popularity in the decade since the technique was developed. We proposed this section on behalf of Lythic Solutions, a firm that provides materials for polishing. 

Section 03 48 63 - Precast Pre-Framed Concrete Panels: MasterFormat had a section for precast concrete panels, and a place for metal stud-framed panels, but no place for panels with a precast face and metal stud framing. We proposed this section on behalf of Ecolite Concrete, one of several firms pioneering this new technology. 

Section 09 24 00 - Cement Plaster: This section used to be called, "Portland Cement Plaster. However, our client, CTS Cement Manufacturing Corp, made a product that is used the same way, but contains a different type of cement. The solution was to drop "Portland" from the section name.

Having an assigned section in MasterFormat gives your product category increased credibility, signaling that it has become an established product option. And having a section name and number makes it easier for specifiers and contractors to search for and find products in that category. And it is part of your brand's positioning.

Taking the initiative to propose a change demonstrates your firm's leadership in the industry. It also gives you bragging rights, and a reason to issue a press release.

Of course, not all proposed revisions are accepted. For example, my suggestion for a new section for "Fly Ash Brick" was rejected. The committee felt this new product could be specified under the existing section for "Clay Unit Masonry." I suspect this decision will be revisited in a few years after Fly Ash Brick becomes more accepted in the marketplace.