Important building materials used in construction

Types of building materials and uses :

In the construction of any building or structure, we use different materials for different purposes.

Basically, these are divided into two types; namely

1 . Natural building materials

2 . Man-made building materials.

Let us discuss them in detail ;

 Title: Types of building materials and uses

1 . Natural building materials :

The materials which are available in nature and can be recycled are known as natural materials.

These are also known as green building materials as they are eco-friendly and biodegradable.

The following are some natural materials :

a) Mud :

types of building materials and uses

Mud is a soil, loamsilt, or clay mixed with water to form a sticky material.

It is an adhesive material when mixed with water.

The property becoming hard and tough when it starts drying makes it useful for the construction of buildings.

Advantages of mud :

mud is a natural material and can be mold into any shape.

It is a low energy consuming material As it maintains a temperature around 24°c to 26°c in the summer season.

Disadvantages of mud :

It may fail during the rainy season due to high humidity content.

These may get fungus attacks due to moisture content.

Mud is less resistant to shear and Moisture

 Title: Types of building materials and uses

b) stone :

types of building materials and uses

Stones are formed from various geological methods of formation and weathering.

Stones have been considered as one of the most popular building materials from the olden days due to their availability in abundance from the natural rocks.

Properties of stones :

Building stones possess enough strength and durability for all environmental conditions.

Types of stones :

stones are divided into three categories based on their origin


Uses of stones in construction :

stones are used as walls and wells

These are also used in concrete as Aggregate

Marble is largely used in the construction industry for aesthetics and good interior.

Murram for covering and flooring of the road surface.

c) Sand :

types of building materials and uses

Sand is a loose naturally-occurring material consisting of very small decomposed rocks, corals, or shells.

Basic properties of sand:

sand provides bulk strength to concrete and other materials like Asphalt etc,

 It is used as a decorative material in landscaping and other aesthetic purposes. 

Types of sand ;

  • Concrete sand
  • Crushed stone
  • Utility sand
  • Fill sand
  • Beach sand

 Title: Types of building materials and uses

d) Wood :

types of building materials and uses

A hard fibrous material that makes up most of the trees, bushes, and used mostly for building material or fuel.

properties of wood :

The main physical properties of wood are strength, hardness, stiffness, and density.

Dense types of wood are usually hard and strong in nature.

Types and Uses of wood in construction :

Hardwoods are commonly used in the construction of walls, ceilings, and floors, while

softwoods are used to make doors, furniture, and window frames for both interiors and exterior.

e) Lime :

types of building materials and uses

Lime is formed through the calcination of limestone

The main types of limes used in construction are:

  • Quick Lime
  • Slaked Lime
  • Fat Lime
  • Hydraulic Lime

Uses of lime in construction :

stabilization of soil for the construction of roads, airfields, and foundations of buildings demands lime in large quantities.

Lime slurry is used as mortar for masonry work and for plastering.

f) Asbestos :

types of building materials and uses

 The asbestos formation is the faulting and fracturing of the rocks with increased temperatures, pressures, and the presence of water.

For more information about asbestos Read this article on Wikipedia: Click here

Types of Asbestos:

Asbestos refers to six unique minerals,

chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, anthophyllite, tremolite, and actinolite 

Uses of Asbestos in construction :

Because of its strength, asbestos was added to concrete, asphalt then used in the roof shingles, pipes, joint compounds, and also adhesives.

It is used as a thermal insulator because of its property to resist heat.

g) Leaves :

Palm trees are the most used construction material.

Palm trees are sustainable and have similar properties to bamboo that represents the culture and history of civilization.

types of building materials and uses

uses of leaves :

These are used as Roof covers in many olden huts.

The walls were made up of more than single layer palm leaves.

 Title: Types of building materials and uses

2) Man-Made materials :

These were made by humans for the ease of construction and improving the quality, economy, and life of a structure.

The main man-made materials are :

a) Cement :

types of building materials and uses

A fine gray material made up of limestone and clay, used with water and sand to make mortar,

or mixed with water, sand, and aggregate, to make concrete.

Basic properties of cement to remember:

  • The fineness of the cement.
  • Setting time:-

Initial setting time: cement starts to harden in 30-45 minutes.

Final setting: cement completes hardening below 10 hours.

  • The specific gravity of cement is 3.15 for Portland cement and for other cement 2.9
  • Based on strength OPC are: 33 grade, 43 grade, and 53 grade

For example: Here OPC 53 Grade cement is required to surpass the BIS specification IS:12269-1987 with a designed strength for 28 days being a minimum of 53 M.Pa or 530 kg/cm^2

Types of cement :

  • Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC)
  • Portland Pozzolana Cement (PPC)
  • Rapid Hardening Cement
  • Quick Setting Cement
  • Low Heat Cement
  • Sulphate Resisting Cement
  • Blast Furnace Cement
  • High Alumina Cement
  • White Cement
  • Colored Cement
  • Air air-entraining Cement
  • Expansive Cement
  • Hydrophobic Cement

Uses of cement in construction :

  • To prepare cement mortar
  • To prepare cement concrete
  • As a grout material
  • To build fireproof and thermal proof structures
  • To build hydrographic and frost resistant structures
  • Manufacturing Precast members
  • To build a chemical proof structure

Read about: What is Prefabrication? Advantages and Disadvantages?

b) Brick :

types of building materials and uses

A brick is building material composed of clay.

Basic properties of bricks to remember ;

  • As per Is codebook Compressive strength of Bricks should be 3.5 N / mm2.
  • The standard size of brick as per Indian standards is 19 cm X 9cm X 9cm 
  • Also 1 cum Volume has 500 no of bricks.
  • Bricks when immersed in water for 24 hours should not absorb more than 1⁄5 of their own weight of water
  • As per standards Bricks should be uniform in color, size, and shape

Types of bricks :

Bricks are again classified many types based on,

  • Quality
  • Building Process
  • Manufacturing Method
  • Raw Material
  • Using Location
  • Weather-resisting Capability
  • Purpose of Using
  • Shape
  • Region

Uses of bricks :

Brick plays a vital role in the field of construction.

Bricks are used as an alternative material instead of stones for construction purposes.

some main uses of brick are 

  • Construction of walls and floors of any size
  • arches and cornices
  • Construction of brick retaining wall

 Title: Types of building materials and uses

c) Metal or steel

types of building materials and uses

Construction uses more than 50% of the world’s steel.

All types of buildings, skyscrapers, parking depends on steel.

Basic properties of steel :

  The most important properties of steel are great formability and durability, good tensile, yield strength, and good thermal conductivity

Types of steel used in construction are :

  • Structural steel
  • Rebar steel
  • Alloy steel
  • Mild steel
  • Stainless steel
  • Tool steel
  • Light Gauge steel

Uses of steel in construction  ;

  • Steel is environment-friendly & sustainable.
  • Steel is used on roofs and also as cladding for exterior walls.
  • Lightweight steel is produced with a small amount of energy only.
  • Main Rebar steel used in RCC buildings are
  • TOR (Toristeg steel)
  • HYSD (High yielding strength deformed bars)
  • TMT (Thermo mechanically treated)

d) Glass :

types of building materials and uses

 Glass is formed when sand and/or rocks, often high in silica, are heated to high temperatures and then cooled rapidly.

Various types of glasses are used for lighting, doors, windows, balconies, etc.

Engineering Properties of Glass

  1. Transparency
  2. Strength
  3. Workability
  4. Transmittance
  5. U value
  6. Recycling property

 Title: Types of building materials and uses

e) Plastic :

types of building materials and uses

Plastics are derived from organic and natural materials also from crude oil etc..

Plastics are manufactured in different forms such as molding pipes, sheets, and films. 

At present, Plastics are used everywhere like pipes, valves, sheets, foams, etc.

Also read :

Scope of Transportation Engineering in 2030’s
What is Prefabrication ? Advantages and Disadvantages ?
step-by-step construction of RCC building

Thank you ! 

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K Vinay Goud

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