Building Materials used in Kenya

Costs, aesthetics, practicality and longevity are some factors you should consider when choosing your building materials. Here are some questions to ask yourself.

❖ How much does it cost?
Unless you have an unlimited construction budget, use materials that are affordable without sacrificing quality. Make sure the materials you choose strike the correct price-to-durability ratio. Did you know; Natural stone siding is the most expensive residential exterior building material, but it’s also one of the most durable when installed correctly.

❖ Is it readily available and is it the right material within your region?
The more special or uncommon the material, the more difficult it will be to source and have it delivered. Make sure you pick materials that will not affect your project delivery timeline with delays and cost implications. It is always advisable to acquire easily available materials.
Choosing the correct material that will stand the test of climate change is also important. Your materials should be able to adapt to the weather and conditions they are exposed to.

❖ Is it durable?
Some materials have a longer lifespan and are more resistant to corrosion, moisture, and other elements. It’s best to choose materials that require the least amount of maintenance and replacement so that the structure can last as long as possible.

❖ Is it sustainable?
The best materials are those that can be reused because they reduce the demand for new materials to be produced in the future. Eco-friendly and sustainable construction materials like earth, bamboo, fly ash, metakaolin, silica fume, rice husk ash, etc are beneficial because they reduce the rate of carbon emissions.

❖ Is it aesthetically appealing?
When choosing these elements, you need to consider the appearance you want. We all have diverse tastes, specifications, and needs. For example, the type of flooring material you select can transform the look of the house or apartment. You select a flooring material that satisfies both your tastes and your budget, such as vitrified tiles, ceramic tiles, granite, marble, Kota stone, wood, and so on.

❖ Performance
Choose materials that have the structural potential to sustain and bear the building loads. When choosing roofing materials, for example, be sure that the building structure can fully withstand the roof material for the duration of the structure’s life.

Material selection is an important aspect of building, and it should be approached with caution because it has a direct impact on the user.

Popular Building Materials Used in Kenya

  1. Cement
    Cement is used as an adhesive to hold stones, bricks, and blocks in place, as well as in plastering.
  2. Sand
    Sand, like cement, is a building material in Kenya that is widely used in construction. It is used with cement to make mortar for masonry work and plaster. The material is also used as a part of the concrete mix.
  3. Stone
    Manually cut stones and machine cut stones are the two types of building stones in Kenya. Because of their strength, manually cut stones are commonly used for foundations and load bearing walls.
    Machine-cut stones, on the other hand, that are well-shaped and have an even surface, are suitable for individuals who want to save time and money on dressing.
  4. Fired Bricks
    Bricks are made of a mixture of mud, sand, and clay baked in an oven. Bricks are important building materials due to their high strength, resistance to fire, low weight, and ease of laying.
  5. Steel
    Steel is an alloy of iron combined with a small percentage of carbon. It is strong, flexible and long lasting making it the most preferred metal for structural building. It is commonly used to make reinforced concrete used as support for structures in buildings, dams and bridges.
  6. Concrete
    Concrete is made by combining cement, gravel, sand and water in recommended ratios. I
    t is a durable, long-lasting, and widely utilized man-made building material. It is fire resilient, has a high compressive strength but a poor tensile strength, necessitating the use of steel bars or rods to reinforce it.
  7. Glass
    Glass is a solid material made from sand and crushed quartz. The product is vital on buildings because it allows light into the interiors while keeping out unfavourable weather elements.
  8. Bamboo
    Bamboo is a fast-growing plant. Because of its strength and other unique features that make it an environmentally beneficial option, bamboo is increasingly being used in construction.
  9. Wood
    Wood is the oldest and most used building material in the world. It is used in construction of roofs, ceiling, doors and window frames and exterior cladding. The price of wood is becoming rather expensive amid the growing threat of deforestation.
  10. Glazed ceramic tiles
    They are made from a mixture of clay, sand, and natural additives that are moulded into the desired form and then permanently baked in a kiln at temperatures as high as 1500 degrees Fahrenheit. They are commonly used to cover floors, walls and surfaces such as countertops. Glazed ceramic tiles, on the other hand, can be pricey, especially if you want to give your home a nice look. They are particularly unsuitable for homes in flood-prone or rain-prone areas, as these tiles are easily ruined when water comes into contact with them.
  11. Roofing tiles
    Roofing tiles are also one of the most popular roofing materials. They normally come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colours. Roofing tiles can be built of clay or concrete (composite concrete), both of which are durable and fire resistant. Roofing tiles require more wood for the roofing truss
    than roofing sheets due to their heavier weight. They are extremely resilient and, because clay is a natural filter, are ideal for harvesting rainwater. However, roofing tiles can leak if not provided with an underlay of polyvinyl paper sheets or light gauge roofing sheets.
    Concrete tiles are a perfect alternative to clay tiles because they are similar in many ways, with the exception that they are lighter in weight and come in a wider range of colours.
  12. Roofing sheets
    Because of their low price, they are the most widely used roofing materials in Kenya. The sheets are strong, corrosion resistant, lightweight and easy to transport. They’re available in a wide range of colours, shapes, and sizes, and they’re normally made with a series of alternating grooves and ridges to boost bending strength.
    Because of their light weight, they don’t put as much stress on the underlying walls, so they don’t need much structural support.

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