Since the dawn of time, mankind has constantly been evolving. Ancient Neanderthals took advantage of nature’s resources and used caves, forests, and mountainous regions as places of refuge. These natural shelters provided protection from the elements, ferocious predators, and rival tribes.
Throughout history, mankind has also consistently shown its remarkable ability to survive and evolve. As groups of people migrated from one area to another, they realized that the need to construct their own shelter was imminent.
Early materials in prehistoric times used for the construction of shelter included tree branches, animal bones and hides, and stones. As the human race continued to evolve, it realized that the durability of a structure was very important and began to find and create new materials to use in order to build larger and more efficiently designed places of refuge.
Other common building materials used in times past included wood, straw, bricks, and stone. Fast-forward to modern times and you’ll see the likes of concrete, steel, glass, and other metals being used in the construction of buildings. With that, let’s take a look at 5 of the most durable materials used to build structures today.
Given that wood is one of the Earth’s most abundant resources, it is one of the earliest materials used to create shelters. Tree branches were cut and used as poles to hold up a canvas such as animal hide, cloth, or other types of fabric.
Wood is light and easy enough to carry around in small amounts, is relatively cheaper, and its natural colours blend in well with other materials. However, some of the downsides to using wood are that it decays or rots faster and has a lot of natural enemies including moisture, fire, and termites.
This natural material is durable and strong and can hold a heavy vertical weight. However, it is conversely extremely heavy, difficult to quarry, and special tools and equipment are needed to properly prepare it for use.
As such, stone has been replaced by other materials that are cheaper and easier to manufacture, but that still doesn’t mean it’s without purpose. Although admittedly, the use of stone in construction is now limited to decorative items, full stone houses were widely used during the Neolithic period. Temples in Europe and China still show us today how widely stone was used in construction during ancient times.
Bricks were originally made by creating clay and then drying it in the sun to harden. Earliest forms of bricks were crafted by the Egyptians, but the method was further improved upon by the ancient Assyrians who found that baking them in an oven (called a kiln) produced stronger and more fortified bricks.
Initially, the clay for the bricks was formed using only hands, feet (by stomping), and with the help of animals such as oxen to mash and mix the clay. Future generations used wooden frames with which to place the clay thus giving the square shape.
Bricks are still used widely in construction today, as they provide a cool place of refuge and reduce the risk of fire hazards.
Concrete is the most widely used material for construction by humans today. It’s composed of an aggregate such as sand, slag, and gravel mixed with a binder like cement.
Concrete is strong, versatile in its application, and flexible in usage. Concrete use can be dated back to the time of the Romans, with such magnificent structures as the Colosseum of Rome still standing as a testament to its strength.
Today, concrete is widely used because of its fairly inexpensive price tag and overall great benefits. It has excellent thermal mass which means it’ll sufficiently cool down the inside of the house enough to reduce energy requirements by 17%. It uses less energy to produce and leaves a smaller carbon footprint.
At the end of the Iron Age, mankind discovered how to smelt different elements to create steel. The alloy is produced by combining carbon, iron, and various other elements including manganese, nickel, chromium, and molybdenum.
Steel is synonymous with strength and durability. It is very light compared to timber and thus, easily transported from one location to another. Can be easily adapted to suit an owner’s requirement. It’s a also an affordable choice as stated by Cost Figures.
The introduction of steel as a mainstream material in building construction marks the beginning of a new era of economic progress as we look towards the future and continue to evolve and survive as we have since the beginning.