4 Most Common Building Materials Used In Construction

There are probably more materials used in construction projects than one can imagine. If you were told to make a list of materials used in building construction, but only given roughly 15 seconds, how many could you come up with?

Just for starters, there is masonry, wood, steel, and concrete. Different properties are possessed by each material in regards to cost, durability, strength, and weight. For some types of applications, one material is better than the others. How do you choose which material is best for your construction project?

Cost is one determining factor. Another is the material’s effectiveness in resisting the stresses and loads acting on a structure. Depending on the use and size of the building in question, the material that will be used can vary.

Categories for Building Materials

Though there are numerous types of building materials, there are basically two categories under which they fall:

  • Man-made: These building materials can include steel and concrete
  • Natural: These building materials can include wood and stone

Prior to being used in a structural application, a certain level of treatment and preparation is normally required for materials in either category. When it comes to construction projects, the most commonly used materials are as follows:

  • Wood
  • Masonry
  • Concrete
  • Steel

Let's look individually at the materials used in building construction.


For thousands of years, a reliable construction material has been—and still is—wood. It can last for hundreds of years provided it is properly maintained. Wood is an economically feasible natural resource and readily available, with highly machinable, lightweight properties. Against the cold, it also provides good insulation. For residential buildings and homes, it is an excellent building material.


Concrete block is used in the design of many masonry structures. This may be reinforced with vertical steel if need be. For load-bearing wall construction, this is the perfect material because it is effective at resisting compression stresses/loads. Other materials used in masonry can include glass blocks, stones, and bricks. Masonry is a fire-resistant, highly durable material, but can be sensitive to workmanship quality and mortar.


Made from mixing cement, concrete is a composite. Compounds may include water, crushed stone, and sand. The ratios used in the design of the mix determine the properties of the concrete. For each concrete patch, it is standard practice for the supplier of the concrete to provide material test results and specific properties.


With excellent strength capacity in both compression and tension, steel is one of the strongest building materials around. It's perfect for tall buildings structural frameworks and large industrial facilities due to its high strength-to-weight ratio. It is available in standard shapes like C-channels, I-beams, and angles as structural steel. Using high-strength bolts, these shapes can be connected or welded together. Structures made from this material are capable of standing up to deformations and large forces.

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