Choosing the Right Construction Materials

When deciding what materials to use for a given construction project, one must factor in various considerations. Of course, these considerations will not apply for prefabricated homes or projects where the hard work and research involved in choosing the right materials for the job has already been done for you. Here's a list of things…

When deciding what materials to use for a given construction project, one must factor in various considerations. Of course, these considerations will not apply for prefabricated homes or projects where the hard work and research involved in choosing the right materials for the job has already been done for you. Here's a list of things one would consider carefully before choosing materials.

Cost: Perhaps the largest factor, your budget will ultimately determine the upper limits of your project in terms of the overall quality and quantity of your materials.

Workability: This might sound like common sense to some of you, but whatever materials you choose, they must be workable. In other words, you and your crew must be able to cut, shape, transport and utilize with reasonable ease, the materials of your choice. For example, you would not decide to make a log house if you lack both strong manpower and the money / license to rent heavy equipment.

Weight: This goes along the same lines as workability, but the overall weight should be a manageable amount, not only for work concerns, but taking the foundation into account as well. Unless you're a skilled engineer or have a reasonable experience, foundation calculations derived from “common sense” may be insufficient.

Strength: (Primarily for structural members) Is the material in question strong enough for what it needs to be used for? Strength can be measured or determined using many different physical properties, such as tensile, compressive, and shear strengths, Young's modulus , and stiffness, to name a few. A property of a given member's cross section, the second moment of area, also greatly influences strength.

Aesthetics: Does it look the part? Aside from the large functional part of the construction process, there are aspects of aesthetics that usually play a reasonable role. I say “usually” because this is not necessary for safety but is purely for visual benefit. What will it be used for – a living room or a garage?

Durability: Now when all is said and done, you might be pretty happy with the income. But just remember that the durability – or lack of thereof – of a house or similar project, is something that will not be noticed until some time later. Obviously, construction methods and design play a critical role in providing an optimal environment for the life of your materials, but it's no secret that some are just more robust than others.

A wise choice of materials will save you countless hours, days, even weeks or months, of wasted time and money! This is one of the reasons why they say the initial phase of planning and design are so important. Because a large part of design and planning is the crucial decision-making process of materials-selection.