At Western Constructors, we think that it’s important to give you as much information about the construction industry as possible. Often, we do so by teaching you things like the difference between general contractors and construction managers. But there’s some knowledge that people take for granted. We also think it’s important to cover the basics, especially when those basics can be incredibly important for first time home builders or project owners. That’s why this week we wanted to take a step back and talk a little bit about something that’s important in every aspect of the construction industry: building materials. In our guide to construction materials, we’ll talk a little bit about some of the many kinds of materials and their strengths and weaknesses. Even though it seems simple, choosing the right building materials for your project can decide how well it works out in the end.
Concrete and Steel Construction Materials
Concrete is probably the most common material in the construction industry, which is why it’s the first topic in our guide to construction materials. But let’s first talk about what exactly concrete is. Concrete is made up of three materials: water, aggregates, and cement. Though people often use the words interchangeably, cement is actually just one component of concrete. Essentially, water turns cement into a paste that coats the aggregates, which are usually made up of rock and sand. Concrete is a great building material to use for many reasons. It’s cheap to produce, which makes it a popular choice, and it’s also resistant to water and fire. In fact, concrete is more resistant to fire than wood and even steel. One disadvantage of building with concrete, though, is that it has a lower toughness. The toughness of concrete is roughly 1% to 2% that of steel.
Steel has become an increasingly important building material for a variety of reasons. In fact, we’ve talked a lot on our blog about the advantages of custom steel buildings. (Check out this blog post about reasons why custom steel buildings are so popular, for example.) Steel buildings are easy to maintain, they can be reused and recycled, and they have incredible toughness. This makes them resilient to weather and other damage, and this means that building owners don’t have to worry so much about maintenance. Though concrete can be cast into a particular shape, even concrete is more limited than steel. You can design steel buildings into shapes and layouts that no other building materials can handle. Unfortunately, though, steel isn’t quite as resistant to fire as concrete is, which means that it may require fireproof treatment. Still, it holds up to high temperatures better than other materials like wood.
Our Guide to Wood and Brick
Wood is one of the oldest building materials, and our guide to construction materials would be incomplete without talking about it. One of the best properties of wood is its light weight; unlike steel or concrete, wood is a relatively lightweight material. Because of this, though, wood isn’t often used for things like basement walls or foundations. It’s light weight simply doesn’t hold up. Still, wood is a great insulator against the cold, which makes it an incredible building material for residential structures. It’s also easy to cut, which makes it a useful and versatile building material in the construction industry, and people often prefer the look of homes built with wood. But wood has some other problems. Unlike concrete or steel, you sometimes have to deal with things like termites. And because it can’t be recycled, it’s not as environmentally friendly as other options like steel.
One of the biggest advantages that brick has as a building material is the way that it looks. In fact, many people choose to buy brick homes simply because they like the way that they look. Still, it’s becoming less and less common to see newly constructed brick homes. Though it was a popular building material for a long time, its popularity has steadily decreased. In 1970, people built 421,000 new brick houses, though they only built 113,000 new brick houses in 2010. There are several reasons for this recent decline. One of the problems with brick is its inability to handle temperature changes. Unlike other building materials like wood or steel, brick can crack when the weather changes, especially over long periods of time. Additionally, brick homes cost more. Because it involves laying each brick by hand, you have to pay for more labor when building brick houses.
Construction Materials of the Future
Recently, there have been some new building materials in the construction industry. More and more often, construction companies have been using recycled materials as construction materials. Some construction companies have started working on and using materials like self-healing concrete, which uses living spores in the cement that make it able to repair cracks in the concrete. Additionally, others have found ways to turn trash (like cigarette butts) into bricks that can be used as building materials. Though most of these new building materials aren’t widely used yet, you might see them more and more often as they become easier to produce. If you’re interested in learning more about the different kinds of construction materials, we recommend checking out this article here.
At Western Constructors, we work with you to make sure that you have the right building material for your project, whether you’re building a home for the first time here in Grand Junction or tackling your hundredth commercial project. We write posts like these to give you the information you need to make informed decisions about your current or future projects. And if our guide to construction materials helps you make a decision about which building material works best for your project, then our blog has done its job. Though it’s one of the first steps in the construction process, choosing the right building material is incredibly important. That’s why it’s important for us to educate you about it. We have years of experience and insight into the construction industry, and we hope that our blog can share a little bit of that insight with you.
*This post was written by Third Loft Marketing.