A Brief History of Construction Materials

A Brief History of Construction Materials

The crux for your construction project relies on an essential ingredient: proper materials. Construction and its related materials have been an essential component to human evolution and our standards of living. In fact, materials commonly used in construction today can date their beginnings to as far back as 400 BC.

A variety of modernized construction material options have recently become available due to ongoing research and support in innovative technologies. Without these materials, one can only wonder where infrastructure, including your future home, would be today.

An ideal and modern construction material will aim to maintain structural strength while reducing its impact on the environment. In addition, modern construction materials must be able to adapt to various weather and site conditions.


Historically, North America and Europe were covered in expansive forests and rich foliage which inspired the construction of many timber-framed homes. Nations worldwide were taking advantage of this natural resource that appeared to be endless. Wood today remains relatively inexpensive and has been an essential material in building development worldwide. Research into various treatments of wood are being explored in order to prevent its greatest disadvantage: moisture infiltration.

When a timber structure absorbs moisture while under compression or tension, the frame begins to deform or shift position (or both!). This is a very serious safety concern as the structural integrity of the building is compromised, depending on the severity of the deformations. In addition, due to its ability to allow moisture to infiltrate, wood is known to be a host for bacteria and mold to grow in homes.

Wood is primarily used today in construction as a means to frame homes in North America. Though wood has served the industry well throughout the past centuries, its disadvantages have begun to shine more prominently as modern materials and construction methods continue to emerge on the market.


The Romans were the earliest found users of concrete, and its ability to remain workable and strong has made it an incredible versatile material with room for innovation. In 1849, a marriage of two valuable materials, steel and concrete, saw reinforced concrete as invented. Reinforced concrete has been used in bridges, institutions and in transportation super highways since.

Concrete is primarily used to prepare foundations in North American residential construction that will serve to support the rest of the structure. Concrete is a mix of cement, water and fine and coarse aggregates. As cement production is very tolling on the environment, methods on making concrete more environmentally friendly are continuously being developed. For example, concrete being demolished, and once broken up, can be reused as coarse and fine aggregate for a new concrete mix. Researchers are also investigating the use of CO2 rich environments for curing concrete in order to increase its strength while absorbing CO2 emissions.


Steel is an exciting material due to its ability to be customized without compromising strength and structural stability. There are two types of steel used in building construction: hot rolled and cold formed steel. Cold formed steel is used in smaller projects, such as residential project whereas hot rolled steel is used in heavier capital infrastructure projects.

Cold-formed steel does not require as much energy and heat as hot-rolled steel. It is lightweight but still high in strength and stiffness. It is the modern construction industry’s solution for low-cost and high-production quantity steel. The benefits to using steel for construction are endless from a manufacturing perspective to a structural perspective. Steel is termite proof, completely recyclable and non-combustible. Steel is also extremely customizable thanks to design software which allows clients to take advantage of having complete design freedom.

What about today?

Many of the materials founded centuries ago are still used today with improvements. Despite all options available for construction, wood remains the most common framing material in North America. Wood as a construction material is classical but it lacks the innovative mindset the construction industry requires to adapt in order to progress towards a more environmentally-conscious mindset.

BONE Structure and its steel components use cold-formed steel that is lightweight and precise as a means to pave the way for various modern construction techniques to become widely accepted. Investing in steel and its benefits of safety, stability and recyclability are invaluable to the future of home building and design.


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Jeffrey, C. (2011, September). Construction and Demolition Waste Recycling: A Literature Review. Retrieved from Dalhousie University: Sustainability: https://www.dal.ca/content/dam/dalhousie/pdf/sustainability/Final%20C%26D%20literature%20review.pdf

Scottsdale Construction Systems. (2015). Steel The New Green. Retrieved from Scottsdale Construction Systems: