Construction and building materials

7 Most Commonly Used Construction and Building Materials in India

The construction industry in India integrates a variety of locally sourced materials. This highly depends on the kind of construction, which range from ‘Kuccha’ mud houses to modern urban infrastructures that use high-end materials. The pressing problem with the industry is, however, the way the source materials are obtained. Sand mining, open fly ash factories, and disregard of sustainability standards have had a huge impact on the environment across the past decades. While the civil engineering and construction industry has boomed over the past decade, the country faces strong challenges from the exhaustive and highly polluting nature of building materials. Problems like illegal sand mining have been affecting the river systems. Densely clustered city planning has been leading to climatic disasters like the one Delhi experienced recently.

Construction and Building Materials used in India

 

In 1990, the Indian Government took an initiative under the Building Materials & Technology Promotion Council (BMTPC) to encourage and promote sustainable, energy efficient and environmentally feasible building materials. However, traditional sourcing continues to be a major part of the construction industry and includes:

1. Wood

Compared to alternatives like plastic and other engineered products, wood offers a great natural advantage. Traditionally, wood construction has been the primary choice of Indian construction, especially in rural areas. In modern times, wood as a building material is also making headway into urban spaces. The advantages include:

  • High tensile strength – lightweight and higher self-support length
  • Heat and electrical resistance – natural resistance to construction and heat – offering more stability and safety
  • Sound absorption – Naturally acoustic properties make it a great advantage in city living and workspaces
  • Aesthetic – Again, the natural touch of wood is fresh. Also, an incredible range of wood is available, based on the need.

Wood construction, however, has its set of disadvantages including:

  • Deforestation – sourcing requires cutting down of trees
  • Prone to damage – Easily damaged by natural elements
  • High maintenance – requires expensive maintenance

 

2. Plastic

Mainly used as polymers in the construction industry, they form a relatively small percentage of the building materials in India. Its advantages include:

  • Can be molded into any shape or form
  • Hard, resilient, heat tolerant
  • Immune to water damage
  • Cost effective

However, at the same time,

  • Environment damage – Is not biodegradable and hence pollutes the environment
  • Flammable – Can be an easy cause of fires

 

3. Glass

Glass has become an exceedingly important material in the urban scape. Not just corporate offices, but even modern homes are using glass as a façade alternative. The main advantages include:

  • Beautification – Looks good from outside
  • More sunshine – allows for maximum use of daylight, while saving energy costs
  • Privacy – Comes in a huge variety of reflective surfaces to offer privacy
  • UV Resistant – Keeps off the harmful UV rays from the indoors

However, glass fails when it is about:

  • Costly – Expensive to deploy and needs to be carefully handled
  • High maintenance – Requires regular cleaning and this can be challenging with high glass walls
  • Security concerns – Privacy and safety can be compromised

 

4. Metal

Aluminum and steel alloys form a big part of the construction industry across the globe and are in fact the framework for big structures. The strengths lie in:

  • Flexibility and resilience – Highly durable and strong
  • Weatherproof – Can withstand adverse climatic conditions to a great extent
  • Fire resistant – less prone to burning, compared to wood or glass

Its disadvantages include:

  • Prone to rust – and consequently affects the structural integrity of the construction
  • Difficult to seal – inconvenient to design
  • Expensive – metal constructions are highly expensive. Also, they require high maintenance

 

5. Cement

Cement is a binder and is perhaps the crux of all kinds of construction across India. It offers strong resilience to the construction and overall integrity of the building. The advantages include:

  • Massive and are better at accumulating heat – a longer warming/cooling cycle
  • Strong – can resist high compressive load
  • Easily manufactured

However, cement brings in several disadvantages when you look at the environment side of the issue. They have:

  • High carbon footprint
  • Are too hard and consequently very brittle – prone to cracking
  • Weather quickly – suck up dirt and dampness

 

6. Bricks and Blocks

Made up of clay or mud, bricks come in several shapes and offer high strength to the construction. They have long been used to construct homes and offices across India. Its advantages include:

  • High thermal stability
  • Made from local materials
  • Cheap to manufacture and durable to use
  • Offers a range of insulation, moisture absorption and resonance properties

However, bricks are:

  • Environmentally damaging – soil excavation resulting in soil erosion
  • Requires high construction costs

 

6. Concrete

Concrete, as in cement brings in the same set of advantages and disadvantages. They are long lasting building materials and have become the foundation for India’s bridges, highways, reservoirs, dams, parking structures, and everything big.

Clay Bricks As The Most Superior Building Material

 

Clay bricks are, first of all, ideal for the tropical climate like India. Consequently, it has also been the oldest known building material for its utility and high sustainability. What’s more important is that clay brick is the healthiest and greenest of all the alternative solutions. Sourcing of clay is the least devastating on the environment and it can even be recycled into the process.

As the need for futuristic homes increase, we also need to be responsible for the environmental impact that our population leaves behind. Choosing green building materials like clay can help the cause of the environment and is perhaps the best solution at hand presently.

Curated by editor at  Wienerberger India

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