Every construction project uses some common materials. Each of them varies in durability, weight and strength, making them perfect for a range of uses. Manufacturers have to follow national standards and testing methods that cover the use of building materials. These standards ensure the structural integrity of the building.
On the other hand, architects choose the materials according to aesthetics and cost. It may include modern roofing materials, such as polycarbonate roofing, to emphasize the uniqueness, versatility, flexibility, strength, adaptability, and creativity of new building materials.
Types of building materials
Natural materials are those that are minimally processed, such as lumber. Synthetic or manmade materials are manufactured, usually with human manipulation, like petroleum-based paints and plastics.
Here are the common ones.
- Steel. Steel is a manmade, alloy material composed of carbon and iron, which makes it more fracture-resistant and stronger than iron. Modern builders use stainless steel which is corrosion- and oxidation-resistant because of the addition of chromium in its composition. Stainless steel is the choice of many structural engineers for the structural framework of large industrial facilities and high-rise buildings. Qualities of steel include high strength-to-size and strength-to-weight ratios. Compared to other metals, steel is more cost-effective despite its high cost. It can be installed in any environment and faster to install compared to concrete.
- Concrete. Concrete is a combination of coarse and fine aggregate such as crushed stone, gravel, geosynthetic aggregates, and recycled concrete bound by a liquid binder like cement and water mixture. Concrete hardens into a stone-like material with variable strength depending on the ratio of the ingredients. Its liquid state can be poured into a form or mold to take any shape. The curing time takes about seven days. Its strength, cost, and versatility make it an excellent material for house foundations. Construction engineers reinforce concrete with steel rod and rebar to increase its tensile strength.
- Wood. As a building material, wood has been around for thousands of years. The wood used for construction is cut into standard sizes and machine-planed. It can be used to build frames for larger structures. Wood is economical and readily available. They are relatively lightweight but provide good insulation, making them ideal for residential buildings. Wood must be pressure-treated if the material has to come into contact with soil.
- Masonry/brick. In masonry construction, individual bricks are used, bound by mortar. Clay bricks are molded and fired in kilns. Modern masonry units used today are concrete blocks, which are often reinforced with steel and concrete for multi-story building construction. Masonry is fire-resistant and durable and can resist compression loads, making masonry ideal for constructing load-bearing walls.
- Synthetic/thermoplastic materials. These modern construction materials commonly fall under plastic, comprising materials based on polymers. They are used today in different applications because of their corrosion resistance, durability, strength-to-weight ratio, versatility, ease of maintenance, and more. Thermoplastic materials can be manufactured in various forms like cables, pipes, covering, films, panels, and sheets. The main types of plastics used in construction include acrylic, composites, expanded polystyrene, polycarbonate, polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polypropylene, and ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE).
These building materials are common in most construction projects. The quality differs between manufacturers, thus it is critical for the contractor to choose the products that fit the type of project they are handling.