10 Natural Building Materials
Choosing natural building materials helps reduce the use of man-made materials. Additionally, it minimizes the use of products that require a great deal of energy during manufacture and transport.
The focus is on simple construction methods that do no further damage to the environment, consume fossil fuel, and are not sustainable.
The 10 Best Natural Building Materials
- Adobe: Adobe continues to be one of the oldest building materials that remains in use to the present day. Adobe is made up of dirt mixed with water, and sometimes other fibers as well, to add additional strength. It is then sun-dried into the desired shape—which is most often like bricks—that are then stacked with a mud mortar in order to form a wall.
- Straw Bale: Straw bale building has become almost mainstream in the Southwestern parts of the United States. Straw is a renewable resource with excellent insulation properties that has the added benefit of being fire-resistant. Straw bale is also used as infill for timber frame building and also in a load-bearing capacity to carry the weight of the roof.
- Cob: Cob is a sustainable material that can be traced back to ancient times and is a multi-faceted green building material. Cob structures are made with clay or sand, local earth and with added fibers like straw. It is all then made into a stiff mud that is formed into cobs. The materials are then mixed together and applied over a concrete or stone foundation.
- Wood: Wood continues to be one of the most commonly used building materials. However, for natural building purposes, the wood should be renewable and sustainably harvested. Wood is also used for frames, trim and flooring.
- Cord wood: Cord wood is similar to what is considered firewood. Using cord wood is resource-efficient because this type of wood may not have any other value.
- Bamboo: This sustainable material is fast growing and strong for its weight, and it is used in many building applications. This includes a concrete replacement for rebars and as pins for straw bale building.
- Masonry: Masonry is also an ancient building material and includes brick and stone. Brick and stone are used for foundations, floors, walls, walkways, and landscaping.
- Earth bags: These are also referred to as sandbags. Long used by the military, they provide a strong protective barrier, especially against flooding. The success of using earth bags in this capacity has made them useful in a variety of building applications. This includes the building of massive, substantial walls that resist severe weather, as well as bombs and bullets.
- Earth: Earth is used to construct different types of homes. A rammed earth technique, used since ancient times, is made up mostly of clay and sand material, then tamped or compressed into place, usually creating a flat vertical surface. The poured earth construction technique uses Portland cement as a binder and is then mixed and formed like concrete. The poured earth technique uses ordinary soil that is required to meet certain specifications.
- Reclaimed Materials: These help reduce building waste. Modern-day construction causes massive amounts of waste during the building process. Building waste reclaimed includes salvaged wood, doors, windows, piping, insulation, and chunks of concrete. By using the reclaimed waste in the building process, it serves as a means of reducing the environmental impact on society.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.