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20 Natural Materials To Build A Home

Coconuts, bamboo, rice husks, wood – many of the world’s best building materials are made from things which grow naturally in abundance. IDSG lists twenty types of natural material you can use for sustainable construction.

1. Bamboo

Bamboo grows quickly and abundantly in most parts of the world, often without the requirement for pesticides or fertilizers during its growth cycle. It is also one of the sturdiest building materials available when used correctly. Some forms of bamboo can be even stronger than concrete when used for beams, posts and poles.

Despite the fact that plastic is much less costly to produce than wood, it has a number of advantages over it. It’s fireproof, pest-resistant, rot-resistant, and environmentally friendly, in addition to being completely recyclable.

2. Stone

Stone is one of the oldest building materials available, and nature has done much of the work by eroding mountains into stone which can be used for construction . This is not to say that it comes without its problems; stones are heavy , difficult to transport, hard to work with, are susceptible to water damage , are prone to erosion when exposed to the elements, require good drainage in most cases and are expensive compared to other materials. However, stone does have its advantages in that it is extremely durable in most cases, fireproof , rot-resistant in some instances and aesthetically pleasing ; many historic structures have stood through the greatest tests of time due to how strong stones are.

3. Terra cotta

Terra cotta is a type of earthenware that has been shaped into bricks, plates and other building materials . It was used extensively in architecture from ancient to modern times due to how cheap, strong and easy it is to work with. Terra cotta has the benefits of being fireproof , pest-resistant , rot-resistant , recyclable, aesthetically pleasing and functional for insulation against heat and sound .

4. Natural Concrete

You will need the following ingredients to be combined to make a more sustainable concrete by adding up to 10% of organic fibres, such as hemp, jute or flax. The addition of fibers improves the bond between cement and aggregate which is pumice, scoria or expanded clay. They come in different colors and sizes. Use this mixture for the foundation of your house or any other structure you want to build on your property. You can use it also as gravel roads on your property by adding some salt and minerals.

5. Coconut palm leaves

Coconut trees are plentiful, produce fruit year-round and the husks of the coconut fruit are extremely strong. They are so good at repelling water that these leaves can serve as excellent roofing . The downside is that they cannot withstand extreme weather conditions such as high winds or heavy snowfall because they are not structurally engineered to do so. This means you’ll have to find high-quality replacements if this becomes an issue.

6. Brass

Brass has been used for centuries for its durability and resistance to rust and corrosion, but is not as common nowadays. This material is made from copper and zinc , both of which are readily available in abundance around the world. However, it can be difficult to work with because it is relatively soft compared to other materials such as stone or iron .

7. Palm leaves

Palm trees grow quickly without much attention required at any stage growing up. Their fronds are also known as “frond matter”, which means that each tree can produce many tons worth of leaves per year depending on how old the tree is. The fronds are remarkably durable, lightweight , flexible if dry, easy to maintain once dried out and can be used for just about anything including decoration, building floors, walls, roofs and furnishings. However, the downside is that they are not very strong when wet or under stress because of their lightweight nature.

8. Reeds

Reeds grow in abundance in marshy areas around the world such as wetlands, riversides and other moist environments where they’ve been used since ancient times for their high strength-to-weight ratio . Their light weight makes them useful for transporting heavy objects a long distance without a huge investment in labor costs. They’re also a good insulator against heat and sound, but are not recommended for flooring or exterior applications due to their susceptibility to rot.

9. Stone blocks

Stone is a great building material because it can be used for everything from floors, walls, roofing and more. Stone was the most widely-used material in ancient times around the world because it’s extremely strong , durable , easy to transport when cut properly and aesthetically pleasing . However, cutting stone precisely into blocks while also transporting them long distances can be costly due to its high weight-to-volume ratio .

10. Papercrete

Papercrete is lightweight concrete that uses recycled paper as filler rather than traditional materials such as gravel or sand because of how cheap and plentiful this waste product is. Papercrete is not only quite strong when cast correctly , but is also fire-resistant and fairly insulating. However, it doesn’t stand up very well to moisture or changes in temperature over time and takes a while to dry because of all the paper inside.

11. Glass bottles

Bottles are plentiful around the world for beverage distribution, which makes recycling them highly efficient . They can be used for everything from building materials to furniture , dishes and utensils because they’re so durable , versatile and aesthetically pleasing . However, glass is not particularly sturdy or structurally engineered, so this material should primarily serve as an accent piece rather than one that holds weight over extended periods of time.

12. Grass/clay bricks

Grass and clay bricks are essentially just blocks made from these two materials that have been cut and/or molded into shape. Grass creates a much lighter brick , whereas clay creates a much stronger one . They’re both durable, easy to make and aesthetically pleasing, but should be used as accent pieces rather than load-bearing ones because they don’t hold up very well under strain over time.

13. Paper

Paper is one of the oldest building materials around since it can be made without too much effort using only sheet mulching (a type of composting). This material can be used for everything such as walls, ceilings, floors , furniture and more depending on how it’s assembled . It’s also recyclable , non-toxic and fairly insulating, but is not suitable for exterior applications due to its susceptibility to moisture and mold.

14. Cork

Cork is a type of tree bark that’s been used as a building material since ancient times around the world because it’s very lightweight , easy to work with, water-resistant once treated and aesthetically pleasing . It can be molded into any shape desired – even three dimensional – and doesn’t off-gas or contain glues or chemicals either. However, cork should be used in conjunction with other materials such as wood rather than on its own because it doesn’t hold up well against stress over time unless another substance props it up.

15. Wood boards & bricks

Wood boards are ideal for flooring purposes around the home because they’re lightweight, affordable and easily replaceable when the time comes. Wood boards can be used for everything from walls to furniture to ladders , but shouldn’t be used in construction where their strength needs to be relied upon too heavily without additional structural support . This material should also ideally not be used outdoors due its tendency to rot if it gets wet for extended periods of time.

16. Rock structures

Rock structures are virtually indestructible if made correctly , but can take a very long time to construct at times depending on where they’re needed and what material is being used . These buildings require strong foundations , thick walls and carefully selected stones that fit together perfectly without any gaps for stability purposes . They’re also not particularly air-tight despite their initial appearance which makes them difficult to use as living spaces or even storage areas due to their inability to regulate temperature or protect from the elements . They also require a lot of upkeep and tend to be fairly expensive due to their long construction time.

17. Pumice

Pumice is a type of rock that’s so lightweight it actually floats in water , but can still support its own weight while rafting . This material usually forms during volcanic eruptions and is typically made up of highly porous foam-like structures called vesicles within solidified magma, which makes them ideal for insulation purposes around the home. However, pumice requires specific placement around windows or floorboards where it can serve its purpose without being too noticeable aesthetically speaking because it doesn’t look particularly great on its own when used as exterior siding due to its tendency to crumble under pressure.

18. Hemp hurds

Hemp hurds are essentially what’s left over after the fibers from a hemp plant have been separated from the rest of the plant. These hurds are an excellent insulation material because they’re lightweight , available in abundance and don’t off-gas or rot like other plant-based insulation options such as straw and cattail. This material can be used for practically everything – even insulation for electrical wires – and doesn’t require any sort of treatment prior to use. It also requires very little processing compared to how much work it takes to turn a hemp plant into usable building material, making it one of the more sustainable options .

19. Cordwood

Cordwood is basically what the name suggests: wood that’s been cut into thin pieces or cords that are then stacked with a gap in between each layer for insulation purposes. This material can be used to create a solid-looking structure that’s functional and aesthetically pleasing, but only if the individual pieces are carefully cut so they fit together tightly without gaps . There is also typically no additional structural support included in this process, making it somewhat risky to use on larger projects where the cordwood wall would need to hold up against significant vertical or horizontal pressure from within or outside of the home.

20. Adobe

Adobe is a type of material made from clay, sand and water that’s been combined with fibrous materials such as straw or even paper . This mixture is then dried into bricks of various shapes and sizes over the course of several days to create a strong, lightweight material that can both insulate and support weight , depending on which part of the home it’s being used for. However, this material requires a very specific mixture including just the right amount of each ingredient , access to a large source of straw or paper and an abundance of time . It also isn’t particularly aesthetically pleasing unless supplemented by other building materials like wood boards around windows or doors.




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