A building material is a substance which is used for the purpose of construction. There is a wide range of construction materials available in the market which a client should be aware of before he starts building his project on site. Using a specific material for construction for a building can affect the total cost, quality, maintenance, cleanliness, aesthetics and stability of the project. For this reason, construction materials should be carefully selected for a particular site. Various naturally occurring matter are usually used as construction materials such as soil, sand, clay, wood, rock etc. Other synthetic materials are also used for building.
Some of the building materials used in Pakistan are:
Cement is one of the most common materials used for construction. It is a fine powder which serves as a binding element for other materials such as concrete blocks, tiles, bricks. It is manufactured by a chemical combination of several substances such as limestone, sand, clay, shale, chalk, iron ore, silica and other constituents. These substances are heated at high temperatures to make a hard rock like mass that is then ground into fine powder known as cement. When cement is mixed with water, it sets into a hard substance. There are various types of cements available used for different purposes such as Portland Cement, White Portland Cement, Rapid Hardening Cement, Colored Cement, Quick Setting Cement, Sulphate Resisting Cement and others.
Sand is an important material in construction industry. It is a natural granular substance that is composed of finely ground rock and other minerals. Over long periods of time, large masses rocks and minerals break down into smaller particles. Most common constituent of sand is silicon dioxide that is generally in the form of quartz. It is mixed with soil to make strong durable foundations for buildings. It is also used for making mortar and plaster where it is mixed with cement and water in different ratios. It is also a significant component in the production of concrete. Sand to be used for construction purpose needs to be devoid of alkaline salt that can cause damage to the masonry work. Sand should also be free of sulphate ions that can destroy concrete and mortar.
Steel is another very important construction material. It is an alloy of iron and a little percentage of carbon. Steel is used as rebar that is reinforcing bar used to increase the strength of a concrete structure in tension and expanding the life span of a building. It is often used in the framework of a structure such as column, beam, slab. Sometimes, stainless steel having some amount of chromium to make is resistant to corrosion is used in the structural footings to protect it from moisture and rust.
A brick is a masonry block generally made up of dried clay with some other necessary ingredients such as sand, lime, iron oxide. They are laid together in courses and interlocking patterns called bonds, fixed by mortar to build a strong durable structure. Bricks are used to build walls, floors, arches, domes and other masonry works. There are different types of bricks such as mudbricks (air-dried bricks), fire bricks and chemically set bricks.
Stone is a hard naturally occurring solid mineral substance of a piece of a rock. It is used as a building material to strengthen a structure. It is a strong and a durable material. Some of the stones used in construction are marble, granite and limestone. Stones are also used on the walls and floors to enhance the aesthetics of the exteriors and interiors.
Concrete is a composite material that comprises of cement, water, fine and coarse aggregate. Sand is usually used as a fine aggregate and stone crush or gravel as coarse aggregate. When all these ingredients are mixed together, they make a hard substance on drying to form concrete. It is a very strong and durable building material with high compressive strength. As its tensile strength is low, reinforced steel bars are used to make reinforced concrete. There are different kinds of concrete used for footing and structure of a building such as Plain Cement Concrete (PCC), Reinforced Cement Concrete (RCC), Reinforced Brick Concrete (RBC), High Early Strength Concrete, Pre-stressed Concrete and others.
Wood is a fibrous organic material found in trees and woody plants. There are three types of wood available such as softwood, hardwood, engineered wood. Some of the softwoods such as pine, cedar, birch, ash, beech is often used to manufacture windows and doors. Hardwoods such as teak, oak, mahogany, deodar (diyar), maple are usually used on the walls, floors and ceiling.
Glass is a non-crystalline transparent material consisting of sand and silicate. It is used as glazing sheets to manufacture windows, doors, partition walls. Glass has a tendency to refract, absorb or transmit light into the interiors. Glass is used in the buildings to connect with nature as well as enhance the aesthetics. There are different types of glass available such as annealed glass, tempered/toughened glass, laminated glass and others.