The Construction materials are those raw materials or, usually, manufactured products that are necessary in the construction work of buildings or in civil engineering works. They are the original components of the construction or architectural materials of a building or other types of constructions. For example: granite, marble, lead, wood.
From remote times, the human being has managed to improve their quality of life by making use of the elements and compounds of nature, and that has led them to innovate in terms of buildings to make them more comfortable, more resistant to disasters and more up-to-date with scientific and technological advances. In this process, he has had to learn about construction materials and their use, to know how to choose or create the most suitable for each occasion.
In this process, blends, new and synthetic materials, and intelligent designs have had a privileged place in the history of architecture and civil engineering. Many of the construction materials are manufactured products of primary industries, while others are treated raw materials or in a semi-raw state.
Properties of building materials
Since a wise choice guarantees a better architectural result, there are some essential properties of building materials to which attention is paid:
- Density. It is the relationship between mass and volume, that is, the amount of matter contained per unit volume.
- Expansivity. It is the tendency of matter to expand its size in the presence of heat and contract it in the presence of cold.
- Thermal conductivity. It is the ability of matter to transmit heat.
- Electric conductivity. It is the ability of matter to conduct electricity.
- Elasticity. It is the ability of materials to regain their original shape once the stress that deforms them ceases.
- Rigidity. It is the tendency of matter to retain its shape under stress.
- Fragility. It is the inability of matter to deform, preferring to break into pieces.
- Mechanical strength. It is the amount of effort that matter is able to resist without deforming or breaking.
- Hygroscopicity. It is the ability of matter to absorb water.
- Plasticity. It is the ability of matter to deform and not break in the face of sustained stress over time.
- Resistance to corrosion. It is the ability to tolerate corrosion without breaking or disintegrating.
Types of building materials
There are four types of construction materials, depending on the type of raw material from which they are manufactured:
- Stone. They are materials from or made up of rocks, stones and calcareous matter, including binding materials (which are mixed with water to make a paste) and ceramics and glass, coming from clays, mud and silicas subjected to cooking processes in high ovens. temperatures.
- Metallic. They are materials from metal, obviously, either in the form of sheets (malleable metals) or threads (ductile metals). In many cases alloys are used.
- Organic. They are materials from organic matter, whether they be wood, resins or derivatives.
- Synthetics. They are materials that are the product of chemical transformation processes, such as those obtained by distillation of hydrocarbons or polymerization (plastics).
Examples of building materials
- Granite. Known as “berroqueña stone”, it is an igneous rock formed essentially by quartz. It is widely used to make paving stones and to make walls and floors (in the form of slabs), cladding or countertops, given its attractiveness and its polished finish. It is an interior stone, due to its decorative potential.
- Marble. In the form of slabs or tiles, this metamorphic rock so valued by the sculptors of yesteryear is usually associated with luxury, although today it is mostly used for floors, coatings or specific architectural details.
- Cement. It is a conglomerating material that consists of a mixture of limestone and clay, calcined, ground and then mixed with gypsum, whose main property is to harden when in contact with water. In construction it is used as an essential material, in a mixture with water, sand and gravel, to obtain a uniform, malleable and plastic substance that hardens when it dries and is known as concrete.
- Brick. It is made of a clay mixture, cooked until the moisture is removed and it hardens until it obtains its characteristic rectangular shape and its orange color. Hard and brittle, these blocks are widely used in construction, given their economic cost and reliability. The tiles are obtained in the same way, made of the exact same material but molded differently.
- Glass. Product of the fusion of sodium carbonate (NatwoCO3), silica sand (SiOtwo) and limestone (CaCO3) at around 1500 ° C, this hard, fragile and transparent material is widely used by mankind in the manufacture of all kinds of tools and sheets, especially in the construction sector, as it is ideal for windows: it lets in light, but not air or water.
- Steel. Steel is a more or less ductile and malleable alloy, endowed with great mechanical resistance and resistant to corrosion, which is obtained from the alloy of iron with other metals and non-metals such as carbon, silicon, nickel and some others. It is one of the main metal alloys used in the construction sector, since it is possible to build structures that are then filled with cement, known as “reinforced concrete”.
- Zinc. This metal, essential for organic life, has properties that have made it ideal for the manufacture of multiple objects and for roofs in the construction sector. It is not ferromagnetic, it is light, malleable and inexpensive, although it has other disadvantages such as not being too resistant, conducting heat very well and producing a lot of noise when impacted, for example, by rain.
- Aluminum. It is one of the most abundant metals in the earth’s crust which, like zinc, is extremely light, inexpensive and malleable. It does not have much mechanical strength, but is still ideal for applications such as carpentry and stronger alloys for kitchen and plumbing materials.
- Lead. For decades it was used as the main element in the manufacture of household plumbing parts, since it is a ductile material, of surprising molecular elasticity and enormous resistance. However, it is harmful to health, and water flowing through lead pipes tends to become contaminated over time, which is why its use has been banned in many countries.
- Copper. It is a heavy, malleable, ductile, shiny metal and a fabulous conductor of electricity. For this reason, it is the preferred material for electrical or electronic installations, although it is also used to manufacture plumbing parts. The latter conforms to strict alloy and quality standards, since copper oxide (green in color) is toxic.
- Wood. Many woods are used in construction, both in the engineering process and in the final finish. In fact, in many countries there is a tradition of building wooden houses, taking advantage of its relative cheapness, its nobility and resistance, despite being susceptible to humidity and termites. Currently many floors are made of varnished wood (parquet), as well as doors, cabinets and furniture are of that nature.
- Rubber. It is a resin obtained from the tropical tree of the same name, also known as latex. It is used for the manufacture of tires, insulation and waterproofing, as well as pieces of padding in joints and protective resins for wood or other surfaces, in the construction sector.
- Linoleum. Obtained from solidified linseed oil, mixed with wood flour or cork powder, this substance is used in construction to make floor coverings, usually adding pigments and providing the appropriate thickness to take advantage of its flexibility, resistance to water and economic cost.
- Bamboo. This wood of oriental origin, grows on green stalks that can reach 25 meters in height and 30 centimeters in width, and that once dry and cured they fulfill ornamental functions that are very frequent in western construction, as well as in the making. of ceilings, palisades or false floors.
- Cork. What we commonly call cork is the bark of the cork oak tree, formed by suberin in a porous, soft, elastic and light fabric used for billboards, as filling material, as fuel (its caloric power is equivalent to that of charcoal) and, in the construction sector, such as floor filling, cushion between walls and light material compartments (durlock or dry wall) and in decorative applications.
- Polystyrene. This polymer obtained from the polymerization of aromatic hydrocarbons (styrene), is a very light, dense and waterproof material, which has an enormous insulating capacity and, therefore, is used as a thermal insulator in buildings in intense winter countries.
- Silicone. This odorless and colorless silicon polymer is perfectly used as a sealant and waterproofing agent in constructions and plumbing, but also as an eventual insulating material in electrical installations. This substance was synthesized for the first time in 1938 and since then it has been used in many human settings.
- Asphalt. It is a viscous, sticky and lead-colored substance, also known as bitumen, it consists of the mixture of pitch with gravel or sand. It is used as a waterproofing agent on the ceilings and walls of many buildings and for paving roads. In the latter cases, it is used as a binder material and is obtained from oil.
- Acrylics. Its scientific name is polymethylmethacrylate and it is one of the main engineering plastics. It prevails over other plastics for its strength, transparency and scratch resistance, making it a good material to replace glass or for decorative applications.
- Neoprene. This type of synthetic rubber is used as a filler for sandwich panels and as a gasket (watertight joint or gasket) to prevent the leakage of liquids at the junction of plumbing parts, as well as sealing material in windows and other building openings.