The Best Building Materials For The Home

June 6, 2019     News

When going through the home building process you want to know that the elected materials are appropriate, durable and aesthetically pleasing. Here, we will discuss some of the best house building materials, used by building contractors across the UK. From the foundations of the house to the materials used to complete its solidarity and appearance.

Structural Materials – Timber Frames

New builds are usually built using timber frames, as they generally take less time to build, meaning less cost for the contractor. The internal wooden frame structure supports the frame of the house, the frame is then clad by materials (usually stone or brick). Unlike raw materials, such as brick and stone, timber is classified as a renewable material. Timber frames help to generate great insulation however, on the down side, the risk of rot is much greater compared with cavity construction.

Structural Insulated Panels

A typical panel is comprised of two sheets of oriented strand board (OBS) that entrap a thick layer of quality foam insulation, usually made of expanded polystyrene, which is injected between the sheathings. As the foam sets, it forms a chemical bond with the OSB and creates a lightweight, ultra-strong panel.

Other materials that can be used to form the panels include sheet metal, magnesium, cement, plywood or oxide board. Panels can also be insulated with polyurethane, polyisocyanurate and compressed straw.

Recycled Steel

Commonly used to form elements such as walls and beams, recycled steel is beneficial to the environment in the sense that it uses primary energy sparingly and contributes to saving trees. It is immensely durable and has one of the highest strength to weight ratios of any building material. Although, a drawback to this is that it is relatively expensive.

Steel is an extremely versatile material, hence why it is used in so many house building projects. In terms of its uses for the home, recycled steel is frequently used to form furnishings, fixtures and lighting. In fact, steel can be used to form many parts of a house – interior elements, frames and panels for example.

Materials Forming the Foundations – Brickwork and Blockwork

Once the foundations for a property have been put into place, building can commence. Whether you’re building from the ground up or undergoing home extensions, or making general building repairs, weighing up the properties of materials is essential. Brickwork and blockwork is still regularly used to build houses in the UK.

As components of resistant masonry construction, bricks and blocks consist of high mass materials with solid compressive strength. Brick and blockwork can withstand ferocious weather and severe temperatures while, once built, the structure requires minimal maintenance. Brick and block constructions are still standing centuries after their formation and the fact that the majority of builders still opt to use this construction method speaks volumes.

  • Clay and concrete bricks – Made from selected clays that are moulded or cut into shape before being fired in ovens. This transforms the clay into a strong and weather resistant building component. Concrete bricks are the same size and are intended for the same purpose as clay bricks.
  • Blockwork – In this method larger blocks, made out of concrete or cement, are used. A hollow core makes these blocks easier for builders to work with and also improves insulation capacity. This method of building has proven to be a popular alternative to clay bricks as a result of ease of use and cost-effectiveness.


Bricks and Concrete


Alternative Materials Used to Form Bricks

  • Mud brick – Made by mixing earth with water, placing the mixture into moulds and drying the bricks in the open air, mud bricks are used to build environmentally responsible and energy efficient housing.
  • Strong fibres, such as straw, are also added to the bricks to reduce the risk of cracking. One of the UK’s leading manufacturers of bricks, Ibstock Brick, commissioned a soft brick manufacturing plant last year. It was designed to “add approximately 100 million bricks (13%) to its annual brick production capacity.
  • Other alternative materials include stone – marble, granite, travertine, limestone – manufactured stone, concrete, glass and stucco.


Materials Used on Roofs

As any buildings first line of defence, a roof has to be formed with care and with the use of reliable materials. Below is a list of materials typically used to construct roofs, all of which have been proven to be fit for purpose.

Slate Roof

  • Tiles – a tiled roof can be made from a range of materials including clay, asphalt and wood.
  • Concrete tiles – These are not for every roof frame. You’ll need to check if your roof frame is robust enough to support the weight of these tiles.
  • Metal – Extremely windproof and long-lasting.
  • Fibreglass shingles – A very sophisticated way of forming a roof. These roofs consist of a thin layer of fibreglass and asphalt. Special granules are placed on top, giving a fibreglass shingle colour and making it fire-resistant.


Cowleys – Trusted, Experienced Builders

Cowleys builders in Exeter offer comprehensive home building services, from laying the foundations to carrying out property refurbishment. As well as being commercial building contractors, our team of highly trained professionals have the capacity to deliver high quality results on traditional or new builds. Contact us today to see how we can help deliver the very best outcome on your next project.

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