Natural Building Materials
Natural materials have been used in building for thousands of years, but it’s only now with concerns for the environment, that we’re beginning to appreciate their value.
Unlike synthetic materials, natural building materials are in abundance and are easily replenished. Many types are recyclable and because there is a minimal amount of energy used in their production, they have less impact on the environment.
Here are some examples of traditional natural materials still used today for a more eco-friendly approach to building.
Adobe means ‘mud brick’ in Spanish and it’s one of the earliest examples of building material used by man. Adobe is basically a mixture of sand or earth, water and straw, it’s dried in the sun then stacked in uniform blocks to create a wall.
Popular in hotter climates, Adobe can be plastered over with a lime-based mix such as Tadelakt to create a waterproof coating.
Stone has been used for thousands of years. It’s durable, readily available and comes in many varieties of shapes, sizes, colours and textures. It can be used for many applications such as walls, roofs and floors and is 100% recyclable.
Popular in Indonesia, bamboo is surprisingly strong and flexible. Its flexibility makes it a good building material to use in seismically vulnerable countries, thanks to its main component, silica. Bamboo grows rapidly so it can be sustainably forested without harming the rainforests and is a valuable renewable resource.
Straw bales are a good example of utilising a waste product and putting it to good use. Straw bales insulate well and form thick walls that help to reflect the sunlight. Because sunlight is the main energy source needed in its production, straw is one of the most eco-friendly materials around.
However, it’s not suitable for high humidity areas and mustn’t be exposed to moisture. Bales can be surfaced with wire mesh, then plastered with lime-based Tadelakt for a waterproof tadelakt finish.
Tadelakt is 100% natural and recyclable. It’s applied in multiple coats, smoothed on with a trowel then rubbed down with a natural olive oil soap to produce a waterproof coating and a polished finish.
Tadelakt polished plaster works well with other natural materials to provide a beautiful, practical and above all, natural, solution for building designs. This Moroccan inspired plaster contains no harmful chemicals and is one of the most eco-friendly products there is.