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15 Factors Affecting the Selection of Construction Materials

15 factors affect the selection of construction materials

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A sound and good quality building material is essential for constructing structures with satisfactory strength, durability, serviceability, aesthetics, etc.

It can also affect the project and maintenance costs to a large extent. Therefore, the selection of materials should be carried out carefully to fulfill the objectives of the design and specification documents.

A wide range of construction materials is available in the market, and since several factors need to be considered for the selection of materials, it can be difficult to choose the best option that serves the various requirements of the building.

Strength, durability, local availability of materials, cost, handling, and storage are some essential factors that should be considered to select suitable construction materials for the given project.

15 Factors Affecting the Selection of Construction Materials

1. Strength

Strength is the most important parameter in selecting construction materials. It demonstrates the ability of the materials to withstand stresses such as compression, tension, and shear. 

For instance, there are several steel grades with various yield strengths from which contractors can choose. If the building does not have to bear large loads, low steel grade can be used, which in this case, can reduce the cost. Nonetheless, the availability of steel in the market will play a significant role here.

Figure-1: Compression and Tension Stresses

2. Durability

The durability of materials is important to construct a structure with a long life span without considerable maintenance cost. So, certain materials may be more expensive than others, but low maintenance costs in the future will offset such high costs.

3. Cost

The cost of construction materials will, in most cases, lead to the final decision regarding material selection. 

Construction material costs comprise a large portion of the total cost, which is why it plays a critical role. Ultimately, it controls the entire cost of the project.

4. Locally Available Materials  

The availability of materials locally affects both the cost and the construction schedule. If materials are available far away from the construction site, the cost of transportation will be high, and it could also delay the work if they are not ordered in advance.

However, if materials are available locally, transportation costs will be low, and the construction process will continue seamlessly.

5. Handling and Storage

Handling and storage of materials is another factor that must be considered because it affects construction time, requirements for labor and equipment for handling, and cost.

Figure-2: Storage of Construction Materials

6. Climate

Climate is another important factor that must be considered while choosing materials. Parameters such as average temperature range throughout the year, rain, snow, weather, amount of sunlight, required ventilation, and wind are the areas of concern.

The climate and properties of building materials are related to each other. So, the selected materials should be according to the climate of the area where the structure will be built.

7. Required Skills and Availability

When construction materials are selected, the decision-maker should know the extent of skills required to use that material. If skilled labor is needed, then it increases the cost of construction. Additionally, if skilled labor is unavailable, which is mostly the case in remote areas, it delays the construction work.

8. Sustainability

The need for sustainable development is continuously increasing due to the demand for reducing carbon emissions.

Applicable codes and standards are continuously setting stricter specifications regarding carbon release. This leads decision-makers to lean toward sustainable materials like fly ash, ground granulated blast furnace slag, and silica fume, which are used to reduce cement utilization and reduce carbon dioxide emission.

9. Recycling

The ability of materials to be recycled at the end of their lifespan play an important role when they are selected. For instance, designers and developers should go for bolted steel connection types rather than weld connection steels.

The former may require greater effort and accuracy to execute, but it is completely recyclable. However, the latter is hardly recyclable without releasing further carbon into the atmosphere.

10. The Function of the Building

The function of the building can govern the choice of construction materials because it directly affects the occupants. The selected material defines the space which is being constructed.

If the type of structure is load bearing, you should select high-quality masonry bricks since they are the primary load carrying element.

11. Aesthetic Appearance

The type of material controls the appearance of the building. A specific appearance may be appealing to someone but not attractive to others.

So, the owner's demand plays a significant role here as they may have decided what type of appearance the building should have. For example, the type of material influences the floor's appearance, so the material should be selected to achieve the required appearance.

Various materials are available for floors, such as granite, marble, vitrified tile, ceramic tiles, wood, and Kota stone. The cost of the material may limit the options as the most appealing floor material may be the most expensive one.

12. Maintenance

Maintenance sometimes governs material selection because not only will good quality material need low cost to maintain, but it keeps the aesthetic appearance of the building.

13. Specifications

Specifications are also an important material selection criterion. Material specifications and quality are established for a given project based on required strength, aesthetic appearance, durability, etc.

For instance, specifications may ask for a cement type to fight chloride and carbonation attacks if a structure is constructed in tidal zones. In this case, additives and supplementary cementitious materials may be necessary.

14. Guarantee

Check and properly understand a product description, its technical specifications, terms and conditions of guarantee to ensure the right material selection. Sometimes what is understood by the material selector or presented by a salesperson can be misleading.

15. Support and Service After Sales

Services and support after sales are important factors and should be considered while choosing materials. So, check whether the seller provides support and services such as normal or annual repairs, spares, etc.


What are the different factors affecting the selection of construction materials?

1. Strength
2. Durability
3. Cost
4. Local Availability
5. Handling and Storage
6. Climate
7. Required Skills and Its Availability
8. Sustainability
9. The Function of the Building
10. Aesthetic appearance
11. Maintenance
12. Specifications
13. Recycling
14. Guarantee
15. Support and Service After Sales

 What are the four basic steps in the selection of construction materials?

1. Determine design requirements
2. Identify material selection criteria
3. Specify candidate materials
4. Assess candidate materials and select the best option

Why is it important to select the right construction materials for your project?

The selection of correct construction material offers several benefits, for instance, meeting project standards and specifications, low maintenance cost, optimizing construction cost, smooth execution of the project, etc.

What are the most common construction materials?

1. Concrete
2. Steel
3. Wood
4. Stone
5. Brick/Masonry

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