Humankind has utilised many different types of materials throughout history including stone, sun-dried mud, fabric, dirt, snow, ice and even packed clay with cow manure. People in modern houses or buildings today will likely live in a structure made from wood, concrete, steel, stone or any combination of these materials. Some people following the green recycling trend have built houses out of hay bales, old tires filled with cement, even plastic bottles. Typically, materials used for buildings fall into one of the following categories.
Stone, Masonry or Brick
Used in some of the oldest civilisations on earth, this category of building materials covers solid stone blocks, rubble masonry and ashlar masonry. Rubble masonry includes types of roughly broken stone in any shape bound together with mortar and includes uses in residential homes and retaining walls. Superior in strength, stability, and using uniformly cut stone blocks, ashlar masonry includes uses in architectural buildings, large and heavy structures like bridge abutments and columns. While not technically stone, kiln-fired brick also finds a place in this category of stone building materials.
Primarily used for interior building construction or framing today, wood has served as a suitable building material for houses and boats throughout time. Carpenters construct most residential homes using wood as a supporting structure for roofs, interior doors, exterior cladding and interior walls. Building materials made from wood include broken down chips or fibres formed into hardboard, chipboard, oriented strand board (OSB), or medium-density fiberboard (MDF). Wood serves as a material to create forms in which to pour concrete to construct a building.
Unmatched structural stability and strength make steel a prudent choice for building, especially large commercial buildings which require wide open floor plans like aircraft hangars or warehouses. Also used in smaller structures like storage sheds, metal garages, or even homes, steel provides considerable strength, energy efficiency and corrosion resistance against the forces of nature. For most large commercial uses, steel provides a more economical option compared to other building materials. Steel girders or beams may also serve as a foundational framing material in high-rise structures covered with other materials like glass, stone, concrete, or aluminium.
One of the most versatile of all building materials, concrete forms into any shape or contour while still providing strength, durability, protection and aesthetic appeal. Poured into just about any shaped mould to simulate a textured wood, stone or brick surface, concrete serves as a low maintenance building material. Highly energy efficient and environmentally friendly, concrete provides superior protection and durability when compared to other building materials. Precast in to various shapes and used in modular buildings, concrete remains one of the most versatile materials used in buildings today.
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