This paper presents a new coating material [hand-spray plaster (HSP)] used to measure the bulk volume of soil specimens having irregular shapes. The new method has been validated against two benchmark methods, namely, the wax and plastic bag methods, by conducting swelling and shrinkage tests on intact Maryland clay. The results show that the new method yields similar values of volume but with much reduced data scattering. The HSP method is also far easier to use than the other two methods. Finally, the stiffness of the coating has been measured and its restraining effect has been found to be negligible. Some of the benefits of using the HSP method are: (1) limited fluid retention by the specimen post-immersion for volume measurement, (2) reduced water-intake rate with elimination of cracking upon swelling caused by high-suction gradients, (3) absence of the restraining effect on specimens upon swelling, and (4) accurate determination of the swelling and shrinkage curves with only one specimen per curve.
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