Building Materials

Building Materials

Building materials have an important role to play in this modern age of technology. Although their most important use is in construction activities, no field of engineering is conceivable without their use. Also, the building materials industry is an important contributor in our national economy as its output governs both the rate and the quality of construction work.
There are certain general factors which affect the choice of materials for a particular scheme. Perhaps the most important of these is the climatic background. Obviously, different materials and forms of construction have developed in different parts of the world as a result of climatic differences. Another factor is the economic aspect of the choice of materials. The rapid advance of constructional methods, the increasing introduction of mechanical tools and plants, and changes in the organisation of the building industry may appreciably influence the choice of materials.

Due to the great diversity in the usage of buildings and installations and the various processes of production, a great variety of requirements are placed upon building materials calling for a very wide range of their properties: strength at low and high temperatures, resistance to ordinary water and sea water, acids and alkalis etc. Also, materials for interior decoration of residential and public buildings, gardens and parks, etc. should be, by their very purpose, pleasant to the eye, durable and strong.

Specific properties of building materials serve as a basis for subdividing them into separate groups. For example, mineral binding materials are subdivided into air and hydraulic-setting varieties. The principal properties of building materials predetermine their applications. Only a comprehensive knowledge of the properties of materials allows a rational choice of materials for specific service conditions.

The importance of standardisation cannot be over emphasised. It requires the quality of materials and manufactured items to be not below a specific standard level. However, the importance of standardisation is not limited to this factor alone, since each revised standard places higher requirements upon the products than the preceding one, with the effect that the industry concerned has to keep up with the standards and improved production techniques.

Thus, the industry of building materials gains both in quantity and quality, so that new, more efficient products are manufactured and the output of conventional materials is increased. To develop products of greater economic efficiency, it is important to compare the performance of similar kinds of materials under specific service conditions. Expenditures for running an
installation can be minimised by improving the quality of building materials and products.

Building industry economists are thus required to have a good working knowledge, first, of the building materials, second, of their optimum applications on the basis of their principal properties,and, third, of their manufacturing techniques, in order that the buildings and installations may have optimum engineering, economic performance and efficiency. Having acquired adequate knowledge, an economist specialising in construction becomes an active participant in the development of the building industry and the manufacture of building materials.

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