USE OF TRADITIONAL
CHITRA RANA ,2ND
Traditional Material =Traditionally materials were chosen for building based on factors such as
local availability and function,1. Wood 2. Stone and pebble 3.Thatch4. Earth
Traditional buildings are usually built of stone, brick, timber and earth (cob or wattle and
daub) held together with earth or lime-based mortars. These materials are absorbent and
allow moisture to penetrate the fabric and then evaporate away harmlessly when
conditions are favourable. For this reason, traditional buildings are said to ‘breathe'. In
such buildings, dampness is controlled by the building's ability to allow moisture to
evaporate. The wind and sun aid the evaporation of water from the external surfaces
whilst internal air movement through the roof covering, walls, windows and other
openings helps moisture evaporate from internal surfaces. As long as the moisture can
evaporate freely, the traditional performance of the structure will function as intended
and the walls of the building will remain acceptably dry.
Building material is any material which is used for construction purposes. Many naturally occurring
substances, such as clay, rocks, sand, and wood, even twigs and leaves, have been used to construct
natural and artificial materials and products used for the construction and repair of buildings and struct
ures. The many different purposes and operatingconditions of buildings and structures account for the
variety of demands placed on building materials and for the great diversity of available materials.
Two basic categories of building materials are recognized: general-
purpose materials, such as cement, concrete, and timber, used in the construction ofvarious types of s
tructures, and special-
purpose materials, such as acoustic, insulating, and refractory materials. Depending on the degree of
preparationbefore use, building materials are conventionally classified as building materials proper, su
ch as binders and aggregates, and structural components,
which are prefabricated units and elements to be installed in buildings at the construction site, such as
reinforced-concrete panels, toilet stalls, and doorand window units.
Industrialization and the expansion of modern construction have led to an increased share of prefabric
ated structural components in the total productionvolume of building materials. The greater output of b
uilding materials in the form of almost totally prefabricated items makes it possible to increase laborpro
ductivity, decrease costs, and accelerate construction work
Naturally occurring substances
Brush structures are built entirely from plant parts and were used in primitive cultures such as Native
Americans pygmy peoples in Africa. These are built mostly with branches, twigs and leaves, and bark,
similar to a beaver's lodge. These were variously named wikiups, lean-tos, and so forth.
An extension on the brush building idea is the wattle and daub process in which clay soils or dung,
usually cow, are used to fill in and cover a woven brush structure. This gives the structure more
thermal mass and strength. Wattle and daub is one of the oldest building techniques. Many older
timber frame buildings incorporate wattle and daub as non load bearing walls between the timber
Ice and snow
Snow and occasionally ice were used by the Inuit peoples for igloos and snow is used to built a shelter
called a quinzhee. Ice has also been used for ice hotels as a tourist attraction in northern climates.
Mud and clay
Sod buildings in Iceland
Clay based buildings usually come in two distinct types. One being when the walls are made directly
with the mud mixture, and the other being walls built by stacking air-dried building blocks called mud
Other uses of clay in building is combined with straws to create light clay, wattle and daub, and
Wet-laid clay wall
Wet-laid, or damp, walls are made by using the mud or clay mixture directly without forming blocks and
drying them first. The amount of and type of each material in the mixture used leads to different
styles of buildings. The deciding factor is usually connected with the quality of the soil being used.
Larger amounts of clay are usually employed in building with cob, while low-clay soil is usually
associated with sod house or sod roof construction. The other main ingredients include more or
less sand/gravel and straw/grasses. Rammed earth is both an old and newer take on creating walls,
once made by compacting clay soils between planks by hand;
nowadays forms and mechanical pneumatic compressors are used
Soil, and especially clay, provides good thermal mass; it is very good at keeping temperatures at a
constant level. Homes built with earth tend to be naturally cool in the summer heat and warm in cold
weather. Clay holds heat or cold, releasing it over a period of time like stone. Earthen walls change
temperature slowly, so artificially raising or lowering the temperature can use more resources than in
say a wood built house, but the heat/coolness stays longer.
People building with mostly dirt and clay, such as cob, sod, and adobe, created homes that have been
built for centuries in western and northern Europe, Asia, as well as the rest of the world, and continue
to be built, though on a smaller scale. Some of these buildings have remained habitable for hundreds
Structural clay blocks and bricks
: adobe, mudbrick and compressed earth block
Mud-bricks, also known by their Spanish name adobe are ancient building materials with evidence
dating back thousands of years BC. Compressed earth blocks are a more modern type of brick used
for building more frequently in industrialized society since the building blocks can be manufactured off
site in a centralized location at a brickworks and transported to multiple building locations. These
blocks can also be monetized more easily and sold.
Structural mud bricks are almost always made using clay, often clay soil and a binder are the only
ingredients used, but other ingredients can include sand, lime, concrete, stone and other binders. The
formed or compressed block is then air dried and can be laid dry or with a mortar or clay slip.
Sand is used with cement, and sometimes lime, to make mortar for masonry work and plaster. Sand is
also used as a part of the concrete mix. An important low-cost building material in countries with high
sand content soils is the Sand Crete block, which is weaker but cheaper than fired clay bricks
Stone or rock
Rock structures have existed for as long as history can recall. It is the longest lasting building material
available, and is usually readily available. There are many types of rock throughout the world, all with
differing attributes that make them better or worse for particular uses. Rock is a very dense material so
it gives a lot of protection too; its main drawback as a material is its weight and awkwardness.
Its energy density is also considered a big drawback, as stone is hard to keep warm without using
large amounts of heating resources.
Dry-stone walls have been built for as long as humans have put one stone on top of another.
Eventually, different forms of mortar were used to hold the stones together, cement being the most
The granite-strewn uplands of Dartmoor National Park, United Kingdom, for example, provided ample
resources for early settlers. Circular huts were constructed from loose granite rocks throughout
the Neolithic and early Bronze Age, and the remains of an estimated 5,000 can still be seen today.
Granite continued to be used throughout the Medieval period (see Dartmoor longhouse) and into
modern times. Slate is another stone type, commonly used as roofing material in the United Kingdom
and other parts of the world where it is found.
Stone buildings can be seen in most major cities; some civilizations built entirely with stone such as
the Egyptian and Aztec pyramids and the structures of the Inca civilization.
Toda tribe hut
Thatch is one of the oldest of building materials known; grass is a good insulator and easily harvested.
Many African tribes have lived in homes made completely of grasses and sand year-round. In Europe,
thatch roofs on homes were once prevalent but the material fell out of favour as industrialization and
improved transport increased the availability of other materials. Today, though, the practice is
undergoing a revival. In the Netherlands, for instance, many new buildings have thatched roofs with
special ridge tiles on top.
Wood and timber
A wood-framed house under construction in Texas, United States
The Gliwice Radio Tower (the second tallest wooden structure in the world) in Poland (2012).
Wood has been used as a building material for thousands of years in its natural state.
Today, engineered wood is becoming very common in industrialized countries.
Wood is a product of trees, and sometimes other fibrous plants, used for construction purposes when
cut or pressed into lumber and timber, such as boards, planks and similar materials. It is a generic
building material and is used in building just about any type of structure in most climates. Wood can be
very flexible under loads, keeping strength while bending, and is incredibly strong when compressed
vertically. There are many differing qualities to the different types of wood, even among same tree
species. This means specific species are better suited for various uses than others. And growing
conditions are important for deciding quality.
"Timber" is the term used for construction purposes except the term "lumber" is used in the United
States. Raw wood (a log, trunk, bole) becomes timber when the wood has been "converted" (sawn,
hewn, split) in the forms of minimally-processed logs stacked on top of each other, timber
frame construction, and light-frame construction. The main problems with timber structures are fire
risk and moisture-related problems
In modern times softwood is used as a lower-value bulk material, whereas hardwood is usually used
for finishing’s and furniture. Historically timber frame structures were built with oak in western Europe,
recently Douglas fir has become the most popular wood for most types of structural building.
Many families or communities, in rural areas, have a personal woodlot from which the family or
community will grow and harvest trees to build with or sell. These lots are tended to like a garden. This
was much more prevalent in pre-industrial times, when laws existed as to the amount of wood one
could cut at any one time to ensure there would be a supply of timber for the future, but is still a viable
form of agriculture.
Fired bricks and clay blocks
A pile of fired bricks.
Clay blocks (sometimes called clay block brick) being laid with an adhesive rather than mortar
Bricks are made in a similar way to mud-bricks except without the fibrous binder such as straw and
are fired ("burned" in a brick clamp or kiln) after they have air-dried to permanently harden them. Kiln
fired clay bricks are a ceramic material. Fired bricks can be solid or have hollow cavities to aid in
drying and make them lighter and easier to transport. The individual bricks are placed upon each other
in courses using mortar. Successive courses being used to build up walls, arches, and other
architectural elements. Fired brick walls are usually substantially thinner than cob/adobe while keeping
the same vertical strength. They require more energy to create but are easier to transport and store,
and are lighter than stone blocks. Romans extensively used fired brick of a shape and type now
called Roman Bricks Building with brick gained much popularity in the mid-18th century and 19th
centuries. This was due to lower costs with increases in brick manufacturing and fire-safety in the ever
The cinder block supplemented or replaced fired bricks in the late 20th century often being used for
the inner parts of masonry walls and by themselves.
Structural clay tiles (clay blocks) are clay or terracotta and typically are perforated with holes.
The tent is the home of choice among nomadic groups all over the world. Two well-known types
include the conical teepee and the circular yurt. The tent has been revived as a major construction
technique with the development of tensile architecture and synthetic fabrics. Modern buildings can be
made of flexible material such as fabric membranes, and supported by a system of steel cables, rigid
or internal, or by air pressure.
Papers and membranes
Building papers and membranes are used for many reasons in construction. One of the oldest building
papers is red rosin paper which was known to be in use before 1850 and was used as an
underlayment in exterior walls, roofs, and floors and for protecting a jobsite during construction. Paper
was invented late in the 19th century and was used for similar purposes as rosin paper and for gravel
roofs. Tar paper has largely fallen out of use supplanted by asphalt felt paper. Felt paper has been
supplanted in some uses by synthetic underlayment’s, particularly in roofing by synthetic
underlayment’s and siding by house wraps.
There are a wide variety of damp proofing and waterproofing membranes used for roofing, basement
waterproofing, and geomembranes.
Fired clay bricks have been used since the time of the Romans. Special tiles are used for roofing,
siding, flooring, ceilings, pipes, flue liners, and more.
Ceramic materials and products. Ceramic materials and products are prepared by shaping, drying,
and firing raw material containing clay. Suchmaterials are used in diverse areas of construction becau
se of their greater variety of types, high strength, and durability. They are used for walls (brickand cera
mic blocks) and sanitary fixtures and as exterior and interior facings for buildings (ceramic tiles). A por
ous aggregate for lightweight concretescalled keramzit is also included in this category.
Natural masonry materials. Natural masonry materials include rocks that have been mechanically pr
ocessed, such as facing slabs, stone for blocks,
crushed stone, gravel, and quarry stone. The introduction of advanced methods of extracting and proc
essing stone, such as diamond sawing and heattreatment, substantially reduces labor requirements a
nd costs in the preparation of masonry materials and increases the application of such materials incon
Timber and wood products. Timber and wood products are building materials derived mainly from th
e mechanical processing of wood, including roundtimber, lumber and semifinished products, parquet,
and veneers. Lumber and semifinished products are used in modern construction on a wide scale forv
arious carpentry products, built-
in building equipment, and such strip products as baseboards, handrails, and overlays. Laminated-
wood products holdpromise for future use
Inorganic binders. Inorganic binders are primarily powdered materials, such as cements of various ki
nds, gypsum plaster, and lime, that form a plasticpaste when mixed with water and then harden. Some
of the most important inorganic binders are port-land cement and its varieties.
Concretes and mortars. Concretes and mortars are artificial masonry materials with a wide range of
physicomechanical and chemical properties,
obtained from a mixture of a binder, water, and aggregates. The principal type of concrete is cement c
oncrete. Modern construction also uses productsmade of silica concrete. Lightweight concretes are ide
al for large, precast structural components and units. Reinforced concrete—
a combination ofconcrete with steel reinforcement—
is used to increase the flexural strength and tensile strength of structural elements. Concretes and mor
tars are useddirectly at building sites (cast-in-
situ concrete) and also in the factory preparation of structural units (precast reinforced concrete). Asbe
stos cementproducts and structural components, obtained from a cement slurry and reinforced with as
bestos fiber, are also included in this category.
Metals. Rolled steel is the principal metal used in construction. Steel is used for the reinforcement in r
einforced concrete, for building frameworks, bridgespans, pipes, and heating apparatus, and as a roofi
ng material (roofing steel). Aluminum alloys are also used as structural and finishing materials.
insulating materials are used for insulation in the enclosing structures of buildings, in industrial equipm
ent, and in pipes.The materials in this group are available in a large variety of compositions and struct
ures. They include mineral wool and mineral
wool products, cellularconcretes, asbestos materials, foam glass, expanded perlite and vermiculite, fib
erboard, reed board, and Fibrolit (rigid insulation made from a mixture ofwood-
wool in portland cement). The use of heat-
insulating building materials in enclosing structures permits substantial weight reductions in suchstruct
ures and reductions in the overall expenditure of materials and in the energy required to maintain temp
eratures in buildings and structures. Someheat-
insulating materials are also used as acoustic materials.
Organic binders and waterproofing materials. Organic binders and waterproofing materials include
bitumens and pitches, as well as asphalt concrete,
Ruberoid, tar paper, and other materials that use bitumens or pitches as a base. Polymer binders used
to obtain polymer concretes are also included inthis category. Sealing materials in the form of mastic
and elastic packing, for example, Gernit (a porous gasket made from a foam polymer with a hardprote
ctive coating), Izol (a sealing mastic), and Po-
roizol (a porous, elastic, rubber strip or gasket made from worn-
out tires), and waterproof polymer filmsare produced to meet the needs of prefabricated housing const
Polymer building materials. Polymer building materials constitute a large group of materials that use
synthetic polymers as a base. They are noted forexcellent mechanical and decorative properties and
water and chemical resistance, and they are easy to handle. They are used mainly for floor coverings(l
inoleum, rubber linoleum, vinyl tiles), structural and finishing materials (laminated paper plastics, glass-
reinforced fiber plastics, chipboard, decorativecoatings), heat-and sound-
insulating materials (foam and honeycomb plastics), and strip construction products.
Varnishes and paints. Varnishes and paints are finishing materials that use organic and inorganic bin
ders as a base and form decorative and protectivecoatings on the surfaces of structures. Synthetic pai
nt and varnish materials and water-emulsion paints with polymer binders are widely used.
Timber frame walls
There are several variations on this system but generally it consists of timber studs of traditionally about
100mm deep, although sometimes larger now to accommodate more insulation. The outer side usually
has a timber based board covered with a breathable but moisture resistant membrane, on the inner face
is usually plasterboard and a vapour resistant material (e.g. polythene) with insulation in the middle of
the studwork. The external face can be clad with conventional brick (plus a cavity) or the walling can be
clad directly or at least on battens with various materials such as tiles, timber boarding, rendering ot
other suitable external materials. The system is commonin parts of northern Europe, North America and
Australia but it has not been used widely in England although it has been more popular in Scotland.
There is still some prejudice against it by a few people but if properly constructed, generally using
preservative treated timber, it will be durable, can achieve the normal fire resistancerequirements (whilst
ultimately brick and block walls might last longer in a fire, since most intermediate floors and roofs are
timber there would be little else left, least of all the occupants) and can achieve an adequate level of
sound resistance. On this last point external walls are not required to have any specific sound insulation
properties (although in some circumstances such as below a flight path or next to a railway it may be
advisable to consider a higher standard), timber frame party walls can be constructed to a similar
acoustic standard to blockwork, in fact some tests have shown they can more reliably achieve the
required standard. With internal walls and floors a higher standard in timber construction can be
achieved using several layers of plasterboard, mineral wool internally, building it as a double stud wall
or fixing 'resilient bars' to one or both sides (galvanised steel sections which have a degree of flexibility
to absorb sound).
Variations on the timber frame wall include using manufactured timber 'I' beams (usually two smaller
sections of timber with a thin timber board between) this makes the wall thicker to take more insulation
but without needing the extra timber, it further improves the insulation because in the middle of the wall
there is more insulation and less timber. Some timber frame systems put the insulation (usually of the
rigid foam variety) outside the timber frame. This reduces the likelihood of condensation in the frame as
it is kept warm and minimises the amount of insulation needed although can increase the overall wall
Most timber frames for houses and larger buildings have been prefabricated in a factory as panels to
varying levels of finish (some include the insulation, services, lining etc., others do not). Some specialist
home extension companies have done something similar although some are fabricated on site from the
basic timber and boarding particularly were access is a problem or when only on a small scale such as
a part of a loft conversion (often a new gable wall to a loft conversion is in timber, partly as many
specialist companies are carpentry based and so can more readily do it themselves and partly because
it can often be simpler to build above the brick structure below without necessarily needing new lintels
etc). Additional information and names of suppliers of timber based buildings from
Post and beam timber walls
A variation of the timber frame building is using 'post and beam' where most of the loads are carried on
these members which in theory can give more flexibility in layouts with just non load bearing panels
between the load bearing posts. There has been a revival of traditional green oak frames plus some of
the German systems in particular use this approach but in a more contemporary fashion. There have
also been a number of buildings constructed to the 'Segal method' developed by the architect Walter
Segal during the 1960's and popular with self builders as it is relatively straightforward using standard
Although there are undoubted merits in the system one of their main advantages is the potential
flexibility of altering walls, windows etc. around without it being a major structural feat although it is
probably in practice rarely done. It is more likely to be for the overall effect it gives, whether it is a
traditional oak frame or a more contemporary softwood one. In reality the infill panels may be little
different to what could provide a load bearing wall.
Structural insulated panels (SIPS)
These could be considered a further variation of timber frameas they generally usetimber based boards
although in theory it is the use of the insulation in a structural way that basically identifies them. They
consist of boarding (most commonly OSB - flakes of timber joined together in a board) with a rigid type
of insulation between. They make very strong panels, well insulated (and the insulation is virtually
continuous) and with a degree of flexibility where openings are put. They would generally be clad
externally and lined internally with plasterboard in a similar manner to conventional timber frame.
Steel frame walls
Although steel is used in most building systems to support the largest loads this refers specifically to
light gauge steelwork which is similar in concept to normal timber frame (stud type) panels with often
channel shaped galvanised steel members. The insulation is usually put on the outside of the frame to
avoid condensation on the steel by forming cold areas on the walls (often known as cold bridges), due
to the lesser insulation properties of steel in comparison with timber.
The advantages are broadly similar to timber frame although it could be considered a more stable
material (not subject to movement due to moisture) although perhaps lacks some of the eco credentials
of timber, however it is readily recyclable.
Hemp Crete walls
This is a mixture of hemp fibres and lime which whilst there are some prefabricated items made it is
generally sprayed or used in a similar way to concrete and placed in formwork (i.e. moulds). As the
material has only limited loadbearing properties when used as a wall it would generally have timber
members incorporated into it with the material surrounding it to give protection against fire, dampness
etc. The material can be made thick enough to comply with current thermal insulation standards and
has surprisingly high capabilities to store heat for a fairly lightweight material. It would normally be
rendered externally and plastered internally with lime based materials.
Hemp is readily grown in this climate (although within certain controls as materials from this family of
plants have uses other than building houses!). It is seen as a very eco-friendly technique because of the
small amount of energy involved in its manufacture.
Straw bale walls
These use the traditional straw bales that are produced as a by product of grain production as the main
materials for the walls. They can be used in a similar way to Hemp Crete incorporating a timber frame
which might enable the roof to be built at an early stage to protect the straw against rain etc. although it
has been used as a loadbearing material by itself. It would often be finished with a lime based renders
and plasters. It probably lends itself more to situations where there is a local supply of the material, local
authorities in such areas may also be more familiar with its use, a problem with any less common form
of construction is that building inspectors etc. may require a lot of additional information to justify its use.