The Comprehensive Guide to Different Building Material Types

June 1, 2021


Research from 2020 shows that around 61% of a home's final cost goes toward building materials. So, for some, it makes sense to build a home instead of going for existing construction.

At the moment, material costs have escalated across the globe, so you might want to research your options before you decide.

Check out the different building material types and how they can impact your budget as well as the result.

Classification of Building Material Types

There are two main types of building materials. These are natural and synthetic.

People have turned to natural solutions, like skins, mud, and rock since the dawn of time. Today, these truly natural elements aren't widely used anymore.

Yet, you can still choose minimally processed natural materials like lumber or glass for your home construction.

New types of building materials come about in industrial settings thanks to human manipulation. Examples of synthetic materials used in construction include petroleum-based paints and plastic.

Nowadays, all types of building materials are expensive. Yet, you might pick up some savings by checking out the branch details of your local builders' supply store.

Now for a breakdown of the most common types of building materials.


These rectangular blocks of dried clay or other materials, stick together with a mortar and are a durable choice for homes. Although they break easily if dropped, they possess a high heat resistance and compressive strength.

In some countries, bricks are a commonplace building material although they're mainly used for decorative items in the USA. Here, they're mainly used for walls, fireplaces, and paving.

Bricks can crumble during earthquakes, although reinforcing them with steel rods puts paid to this issue.


Wood comes from trees and other fibrous plants and is usually cut or pressed into boards, planks, and other useful shapes. These have many applications when used for construction purposes.

You can use wood in any kind of climate and it's by far the most popular home construction material in the USA. It's flexible under heavy loads and keeps its strength as it bends.

Different species of trees offer varying benefits when used for buildings.


Concrete comes from mixing aggregate with a binder like cement. The most common type is Portland cement-concrete made from gravel and sand.

When mixed with water, the cement hardens until it's as strong as stone. You can mold concrete into a variety of shapes according to your needs.

For this reason, concrete's an effective building material and is widely used in industrial buildings. Steel bars add even more strength to this long-lasting durable material.

With the addition of the steel bars, it's referred to as reinforced concrete. During construction, contractors use a vibrator to shake any air out of the concrete before it sets.

Since it's manufactured in bags of dried material, concrete's easy to transport, which can also reduce the cost of construction.


Metal's main role in construction is as a structural framework for buildings or as an external covering. Steel is the most popular metal in construction.

This metal alloy contains mainly iron and is a strong, flexible choice that can last a long time. The one shortfall of steel is that it's prone to corrosion in wet climates.

At one stage, the brass had a brief moment of fame for structural work, but it's mainly reserved for decorative elements nowadays.

Metal's often used in prefabricated structures and is often seen in cosmopolitan settings. There's a lot of labor and energy involved in producing metal, especially in the vast quantities used for construction.

Expensive metals like titanium, chrome, gold, and silver are mainly used for decoration since they're malleable but lack structural strength.

Aluminum's another popular type of lightweight metal that doesn't corrode. Although it's not as durable as steel, it's a good option for roofing, window frames, and molding.


Plastic pipes and fittings are widely used for plumbing, light fittings, and wiring. These synthetic materials are easily molded or extruded into films, fibers, and various useful objects.

Plastics adaptability, uniform composition, and low weight make it an invaluable material in industrial as well as residential applications.


In recent times, synthetic polystyrene and polyurethane foam's become used on a limited scale in construction. It's lightweight, easy to shape, and works well as an insulator.

Often, builders use a layer of foam in between boards of wood or cement to form insulated panels.


Glass comes from a mixture of sand and silicates. Since it's a clear material, it's most commonly used for windows to let light into a building while insulating it from the outside elements.

Glass is very brittle and fragile, although using multiple sheets of it can enhance its strength. Nowadays, modern glass curtains can cover the entire front section of a building or span a wide roof structure in a 'space frame'.

Other Types of Building Materials

Some of the more unusual, yet effective building materials are earth and straw bales. These types of constructions are eco-friendly and surprisingly durable.

These natural building materials produce sustainable, low-energy structures that keep your interiors comfortable without the use of energy-hungry heating and cooling systems.

Earth's an inexpensive type of building material and is commonly used in areas with reduced infrastructure. Over 50% of the world's population live in earthen structures.

Unfortunately, these constructions don't stand up well to natural disasters and extreme weather. They can last for many years in mild climates.

Another innovative building style involves using plastic waste to create bricks with soda bottles and plastic bags.

Amazing Architecture

The different building material types have a huge effect on the final aesthetic of your home. They also affect its value, energy efficiency, and maintenance aspects.

Discover more of the things you want to know about buildings and architecture by exploring some more of our articles.


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