Types of building materials

Advantages and disavdvantages of various types of building materials, plus earth-wise tips!

Related Stories

Types of building materials

 
Aluminium
 
Uses  - Mouldings, window frames
Advantages - Strong, lightweight, can be recycled
Disadvantages - Production is very energy-intensive and polluting.
Earth-wise tips - Avoid, or use recycled aluminium.

Brick (clay)
 
Uses - Walls, paths, driveways
Advantages - Versatile, good thermal mass
Disadvantages - Production is energy-intensive and uses non-renewable resources.
Earth-wise tips - Look for recycled bricks.

Concrete
 
Uses - Floors, walls, supports
Advantages - High thermal mass, strong, durable, economical, resists termites and earthquakes
Disadvantages - Production involves quarrying and creates greenhouse emissions; poor insulator, needs reinforcing.
Earth-wise tips - Use autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC), which is lightweight, energy-efficient and non-toxic, or concrete made with recycled aggregate.

Fibre cement sheeting
 
Uses - Cladding
Advantages - Low embodied energy, light, inexpensive, good thermal properties, can be rendered
Disadvantages - Not as strong as some other options; associated with cheap housing and asbestos (no longer used).
Earth-wise tips - Try lime wash as a surface treatment: it’s suitable and environmentally benign.

Glass
 
Uses - Windows, doors, skylights; bricks
Advantages - Stable, long-lasting, efficient, recyclable
Disadvantages - Production is energy-intensive, uses non- renewable minerals.
Earth-wise tips - Seek out recycled windows; buy energy-efficient new glass.

Mudbrick
 
Uses - Walls, floors
Advantages - Source material can be found on site, long-lasting, biodegradable, high thermal mass; pest- and fire-resistant
Disadvantages - Making bricks is labour-intensive; requires soil with high clay content; poor insulator.
Earth-wise tips - Bricks can be purchased ready-made.

Plasterboard
 
Uses - Lining walls
Advantages - Potentially recyclable, breathes, largely natural
Disadvantages - Some plasterboards contain toxic chemicals and glass fibres.
Earth-wise tips - Look for recycled plasterboard and non- synthetic boards with natural fixatives.

Plastics
 
Uses - Window frames, water pipes, gutters, floor and wall coverings
Advantages - Light, durable, resistant to damp, water and pests
Disadvantages - Made from non-renewable resources; production is energy-intensive and polluting; may off-gas.
Earth-wise tips - Look for renewable alternatives; avoid PVC – opt for PVC-free polypropylene or polybutylene instead.

Steel
 
Uses - Frames, supports
Advantages - Strong, economical, durable, recyclable
Disadvantages - Production is energy-intensive and highly polluting; coatings are often polluting.
Earth-wise tips - Buy recycled steel or opt for renewable timber.

Stone and composite stone
 
Uses - Walls, floors, supports
Advantages - Abundant, durable, high thermal mass, economical if available on site; no toxic emissions
Disadvantages - Non-renewable; extraction and transportation can be energy-intensive.
Earth-wise tips - Use salvaged stone or products made with waste stone from local sources.

Straw bale
 
Uses - Walls
Advantages - Cheap, renewable, good insulator
Disadvantages - Is bulkier than other materials; requires specialised construction.
Earth-wise tips - Avoid chemical pest treatments and use eco-friendly render.

Timber
 
Uses  - Floors, walls, supports and roof frames
Advantages - Strong, easy to work with, versatile, potentially renewable, biodegradable
Disadvantages - Some timber is non-renewable; often treated with toxic chemicals.
Earth-wise tips - Use recycled wood or timber from sustainable sources, with no chemical treatments.

 

 

 







 
Vote it up
77
Like this Article?Vote it up

Advertisement

Lastest Deal
Kavanagh Q.C - The Collection Volume One DVD Box Set
Kavanagh Q.C - The Collection Volume One DVD Box Set
89.96  $49.98 buy
Advertisement

Latest Contests

Free E-Book Samplers

Diabetes Cookbook
new
Diabetes Cookbook
The people who have diabetes can live a healthy life while still eating tempting food. The Diabetes Cookbook will show you how...
Download
Ultimate Book of Knowledge
Foods That Harm Foods That Heal Cookbook
Fix It Yourself
 
 
Advertisement
Important Information
Customer Care

Shop at our store!

• Books
• DVDs
• Music
• Gifts

Click Here

 

WIN! WIN!

Your chance to win cash & prizes!
Enter now

Are you a winner?
Click here