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Materials used in building constructions are usually distinguished by their cost-effectiveness for such projects. As explained by Top-Most Hardware (2020), an online hardware construction supplier, these materials may come as a by-product of natural resources — clay, sand, wood, twigs, and rocks —, or man-made which is more or less synthetic. Building materials are grouped according to its use and specific specialty trades: plumbing, roofing, carpentry, and insulation work. And the material output can be influenced by the governing body in their area through its regulation.
- Natural Construction Materials
In construction, there are two kinds of sources where the materials are derived from. First, the natural equipment pertains to products that are minimally processed by industry (e.g. stones, metals, and lumbers. While the second source refers to synthetic materials which are the polar opposite of the natural ones, highly operated by industry and injected with human configuration.
On the other hand, the most used materials, primarily used to create shelters, are mud, stone, and fibrous plants. These resources work together: stones being the foundation of the structure while mud acts as insulator and concrete to fill the gaps.
In modern structures, the fabric is now preferable to use due to its “flexible material” such as fabric membrane aided with a system of internal air pressure and steel cables. This resource, in fact, has been intendedly revived and adapted from nomadic, as now part of the major advancement of tensile architecture and synthetic fabrics. It can now be seen as debris, guard, and safety accessory in construction.
- Mud and Clay
Some of the shelters in northern and western Europe built with dirt and clay have been able to withstand the external, natural changes in state for centuries, proving its durability and cost-effectiveness over time. According to the Top-Most Hardware, “The deciding factor is usually connected with the quality of the soil being used. Larger amounts of clay usually mean using the cob/adobe style, while low clay soil is usually associated with sod building.” Other main ingredients used are sand, gravel, grasses, straw, and rammed earth. “Earthen walls change temperature slowly,” wrote the online hardware supplier in their article, “so artificially raising or lowering the temperature can use more resources than in say a wood-built house, but the heat/coolness stays longer.” Moreover, homes built with soil and clay, or any other earth-sourced materials, usually tend to warm in cold weather and cool in the summer heat.
Rock, with its dense attributes, gives off protection to use and has been used as far as when the history can recall. This material has been used for multiple functions that differ according to its type: decorative stones and granites are the usual finishing materials, dry-stones, on the other hand, were eventually used to construct mortars by simply putting one on top of another. The use of rock in building constructions are magnificently evident from historic architectures like the Aztec pyramids, in Egypt, and the remains of the Inca civilization.
For years, thatch, being one of the oldest materials known, has been a major component in building houses for African tribes. This grass is accepted as a good insulator and easily harvested.
Commonly found in tropical and subtropical areas, brush resources — like twigs, branches, and bark — can also be used in building homes.
First used in igloos by the Inuits, today, this cold material is used for hotels in northern countries to mainly attract tourists.
Woods, as many of us know, are generic material in building projects — lumbers, timbers, planks, and the similar products of wood. “Wood can be very flexible under loads,” said Top-Most Hardware, “keeping strength while bending, and is incredibly strong when compressed vertically.”
In early days, woods were used in building construction in its unprocessed form of logs. With the intervention of mechanizing saws, it was then processed into lumbers, outsourcing much more efficiency and effectiveness on its use and availability.
The producers of this natural resource have put into consideration the environment where their trees would grow ensuring the high-quality of their product and service.
- Brick and Block
Formed by molding clay or shale, bricks are commercially advertised highlighting its ecstatic yet minimalistic appearance. This block made of kiln-fired material is typically produced through the soft mud method —basic molding process —, or through stiff mud process — produced through commercial manufacture.
Concrete is a mix of aggregates and binders like cement. By combining, the cement hydrates and turns into a stone-like material, a.k.a. concrete. The online hardware construction supplier exemplifies, “as concrete has a rather low tensile strength, it is generally strengthened using steel rods or bars… this strengthened concrete is then referred to as reinforced concrete.” A vibrator is used to minimize any air bubbles, which may weaken the overall structure.
This composite building material is recognized due to its outstanding attributes: formability, longevity, and ease of transport.
Although metal is costlier than concrete, it is much used in larger establishments, like skyscrapers, due to its complementary appease as external surface covering and ease to install. There are varieties of kinds of metals used in construction, with their distinctive components: steel is essentially a go-to for most building projects for its notable flexibility, strength, and longevity; brass, unlike its restriction in usability today, was a common material in the past; and aluminum alloys and tins which possesses the characteristics of lower density and corrosion resistance.
This building material is formed through the combining sand and silicates. Glass, as evident in most shelters today, provides an entry way for light to pass through and refract in homes without disturbing the temperature inside. The market now offers varieties of types of glasses: laminated, tempered, bulletproof and others for a specific purpose. Some of the modern kinds of this material are curtain walls — used to cover the whole facade of an establishment — and space frame — which covers a wide range of roof structure.
Evolving from clay-pottery firing in kilns, ceramic now presents itself in forms of tiles, fixtures, ceilings, counter-tops, and much more. This building component is usually used as coverings and roofings of establishments.
In modern times, wrote Top-Most Hardware, “The term plastics covers a range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic condensation or polymerization products that can be molded or extruded into objects or films or fibers.” The name itself, it added, defines their unique property of plasticity and malleability.
This building material ensures its adaptability in industry through its lightweight attribution which complements the uniformity in the said field. Plastics, varying in purposes, have also different extent in hardness, heat tolerance, and resiliency.
Synthetic polystyrene, also known as polyurethane foam, is a lightweight material that has a distinctive malleability. It is also used as an insulator due its great performance in structural panels accompanied with wood and cement.
Recently, the online hardware supplier has been notified that, “foamed plastic sheet to be used as backing for firestop mortar at CIBC bank in Toronto.”
- Cement composites
According to Top-Most Hardware Franchise, “cement-bonded composites are an important class of construction materials.” These fibrous binding materials are basically made out of hydrated cement paste, which is then used to stick woods, or fibers that are components in building structures.
However, not all cement composites are essentially good to use for binding all materials. One must assess the compatibility of the cement to natural fibers before making the cement bond composites. Some woods and natural fibers have various organic compounds — phenolics, carbohydrates, and glycosides — that are identified as deceleration components in setting the cement. On the one hand, “Various methods are used by researchers such as the measurement of hydration characteristics of a cement-aggregate mix; the comparison of the mechanical properties of cement-aggregate mixes and the visual assessment of microstructural properties of the wood-cement mixes.” the construction materials supplier further explained.
In determining the wood-cement compatibility, one must critically observe different properties: strength, morphology, hydration, and interfacial bond. The compatibility is often presented in percentage value; the ratio of a parameter of properties of a wood-cement and the cement paste.
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