10 Natural Building Materials

Updated on November 16, 2016
bamboo is used in different building applications.
bamboo is used in different building applications.

10 Natural Building Materials

Choosing natural building materials helps reduce the use of man-made materials. Additionally, it also 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.

10 Natural Building Materials

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Bamboo - is fast-growing and strong for its weight. The sustainable material is used in many building applications. This includes a concrete replacement for rebars and as pins for straw bale building.
  7. Masonry - is also an ancient building material and includes brick and stone. Brick and stone are used for foundations, floors, walls, walkways and landscaping.
  8. Earth bags - 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Reclaimed Materials - 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.

Questions & Answers


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      • john000 profile image

        John R Wilsdon 15 months ago from Superior, Arizona

        I like the suggestions in this list. We in Arizona build with adobe and rammed earth. I have also seen rammed rock walls, where rocks are put on top of cement in layers and rammed into forms. Bale homes seem intriguing. Great hub.

      • TheListLady profile image

        TheListLady 4 years ago from New York City

        Hi vibesites! When I was in China there was scaffolding and it was all bamboo - wow! Thanks for writing!

      • vibesites profile image

        vibesites 5 years ago from United States

        I always love bamboo. It's beautiful and strong. In fact it's even used in scaffolding.

      • TheListLady profile image

        TheListLady 6 years ago from New York City

        Thanks so much for the comments. I don't know how I missed this hub (?).

      • Ingenira profile image

        Ingenira 6 years ago

        Good list of natural building materials. I like the wood materials, bamboo and rocks look good too !

        Voted up and tweeted !

      • carcro profile image

        Paul Cronin 6 years ago from Winnipeg

        Great hub, it sure adds to your home and surroundings when you use natural materials. I really like the looks of bamboo and stone. Thanks for sharing.

      • Veronica Allen profile image

        Veronica Allen 6 years ago from Georgia

        While visiting our local bamboo farm here in Savannah, Georgia, I was amazed at how resilient and how versatile bamboo is. What an amazing plant! - Earth Bags!? - Who knew!? Another amazing hub.

      • profile image

        Gym Mirrors 6 years ago

        thank you for share 10 natural building materials!

        i love them

      • CountryCityWoman profile image

        CountryCityWoman 6 years ago from From New York City to North Carolina

        Great list and great info. I've learned quite a bit and thanks a lot.

        Rated up for sure.

      • BkCreative profile image

        BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

        Great info - and great links too. Thanks a million and rated way up!