Beginner's Guide to Outdoor Building Materials


Natural and Synthetic

Both natural and Synthetic materials are used in home building supplies. Two examples of natural materials are lumber and glass. Two Synthetic material examples are plastic and petroleum. People all over the world have used what’s available to them, from mud to animal skins in order to build shelters. Now, instead of using animal skins, we use fabrics made of flexible materials and synthetic components to build shelters like yurts and tents.

Rocks and stones were also popular in the nomadic age, and have since graduated to decorative stone types such as manufactured stone, natural stone cladding, stone veneer panel siding and granite.

Mud and clay have also seen major upgrades, as brick is a type of kiln fired clay or shale. Brick’s became popular for homes in growing cities due to it’s flame retardant components, unlike wood. Cinder blocks are a mix of mud and concrete and also became popular during this time. Concrete also falls in the natural materials category. It’s a combination of composite and cement. The most common type of concrete is a mineral such as gravel or sand, Portland cement, and water. The cement hydrates after mixing and eventually hardens into a stone like material where it then is referred to as concrete. There has been an increasing amount of modern homes being built with concrete but this was a common material that’s end product was stucco cladding during the Spanish colonial architecture time, and then again with Spanish revival architecture

Ceramics, similar to concrete, is also derived from a naturally occurring clay and are used in tiles for floors and walls, fixtures, counter tops, and roofs. Wood, deriving from trees of course, is a versatile natural material that is commonly used in exterior housing products from window frames to structures to siding. Another widely used natural material is Metal. Metals include steel, titanium, chrome, gold and silver. This is used in framing, piping, roofing and windows. In windows we also see glass of course. Glass is also a natural material made from sand and silicates. Plastic is where synthetics take a full swing in the building materials world. Plastic is heat tolerable, hard and resilient, but adaptable. For this reason it is often used in piping, electrical and some mechanical situations. Foam is also a type of plastic that is using in fire protectant coatings, backings and insulation. Polyurethane foam is not used as much as it used to be due to the harmful chemical compounds, but it’s light weight and easily shaped which is why it makes a good sealant and insulator.

Modernizing the Industry

As the industry modernizes, we are paying more attention to the sustainability of the products we use in construction due to prevent depletion of recourse and recycle materials that we can. This has led us to the use of old shipping containers, tiny homes, van life, and other forms of small living where humans attempt to live sustainably.

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