Whether it is large structures, repairs or annexes, the use of the right material is related to the strength of the work, as well as costs, efficiency and design. Below you will find basic information on some of the most commonly used materials: earth and clay, wood, brick, stone, concrete and metal.
If you are still not clear about the type of material you should use and want to learn more about its properties, benefits and possible uses, you can quickly go through the following lines. You can easily figure out what and how to use, its strengths and possible disadvantages.
Earth and clay
New construction techniques have begun to revalue the possibilities offered by these materials, so you can try to make an ecological home by combining the traditional use of earth or clay with modern structures. Now it is mainly used the spraying technique, or with a resin-based binder.
In traditional techniques, both earth and clay are used mainly together with sand, straw or manure. The adobe or spider houses are still quite widespread in our country, and the ease with which they could be raised and maintained was an important asset. In addition to the quality of the ingredients, the clay content of the soil used is responsible for the quality of the resulting product.
Earth is a material with superior energy efficiency, and this is one of the biggest advantages it offers. The energy costs of an earthen construction can be reduced by up to 80% and you will enjoy warm winters and cool summers. It is also a cheap resource, but there may be collateral costs, such as planning, extraction and construction (especially in the case of modern architecture). Unlike other materials, the soil is sensitive to weather exposure.
Wood is used in construction especially in the form of planks, cabinets, rafters or other such processed products. It is a sought-after material especially because it can be easily worked with and has a very good vertical resistance and supports quite high weights. It can bend and bend to take over the forces acting on it.
In rustic-inspired constructions it can be used in the form of logs, but the necessary wood mass is quite large. Instead, it remains one of the favorite materials for floors, stairs and roofs. Where possible, fireproofing is indicated, otherwise there is always a possible risk of fire.
For each mode of use, both the species from which the wood is processed and the conditions in which it was grown and the way in which it was used are taken into account. The wood has an active period after it has been cut, so storing it in optimal conditions or treating it is important to determine whether it is suitable or not for construction. If the wood “works”, then it is prone to cracking, bending and changing its volume, which could affect the quality of the project.
Made by heat treatment of clay blocks, bricks are among the most popular when it comes to materials used in construction. Quite advantageous in price, they have some net advantages over other materials. First, they can be used to lift sturdy walls fairly quickly. They are not recommended for the resistance structure, instead they offer good energy efficiency, soundproof and last over time.
There are also bricks made with cement, but they may yield much faster, disintegration under the action of moisture usually settling after about 50 years. For a building with a longer lifespan, bricks are a good choice.
If in the past the bricks had smaller dimensions, the present ones can be much bigger, with empty spaces for material saving and acting as a very good insulator. Water resistance, however, remains a problem, especially if the combustion has not been done properly.
The use of stone for construction has some clear advantages, but also disadvantages. The stone is extremely durable, so you can be sure of the durability of the construction. It is also very dense, which means that it is more difficult to process and has a very high weight. Both the transport and the construction work itself is much more difficult.
From an energy point of view, stone constructions have a big disadvantage, as they are difficult to heat. Many of the countries where stone constructions are preferred have a warm climate, so stone constructions are ideal for maintaining comfort. In temperate climates, the use of stone is indicated especially for decorative works, exterior annex structures, uninhabited or in the case of foundations, where strength and stability are required.
One thing to keep in mind is the proximity of a stone source. If you live near gravel rivers or quarry mountains, you can get the stone at a reasonable price, otherwise the transportation costs may be quite high.
Concrete is a relatively recent aggregate. Until the last century, lime was used as a binder in combination with sand. With the increase in cement production, concrete, consisting of cement, sand and gravel, has become increasingly popular in the construction industry. Its reinforced form with rods and cables woven of iron (iron-concrete) is now the most used for the realization of the resistance structures of the buildings: foundation, pillars, beams.
Basically, what we call concrete is the hydrated and hardened form of Portland cement. Its hardness is close to that of stone, which is an advantage in its use. However, unlike stone, it must be purchased with a concrete mixer or processed on site, with the help of mixers or by extremely demanding physical work. The drying of the concrete must be slow, otherwise cracks may appear that compromise its resistance.
Concrete construction work can also be difficult because, not being as easy to modify as masonry or wood assemblies, you will need the right tools to shape the beams, tiles or blocks. You can use a special cutting or grinding tool, but you need to replace the diamond disc more often if you perform large-scale work.
For industrial structures, commercial buildings and in general high-rise constructions, metal is most often used. If for the halls on the ground the resistance is not decisive, because the weight is easily supported, in the case of tall buildings the best quality steel is used, with an excellent resistance to weight and corrosion as well as flexibility to withstand shocks.
If you suggest using a metal structure, you can opt for alloy bars, with aluminum or brass content, which have a lower weight and are not affected by moisture.