Properties of Construction Materials

What Properties of Construction Materials are of Concern?

Properties of Construction Materials

Properties of Construction Materials: Construction requires a variety of products.  Building Materials are the materials used in the design of Structural Components such as buildings, bridges, and highways. Among them are bricks, wood, cement, metal, and plastics. There are four categories for the materials in use in structures.

  • Conventional Materials
  • Alternative construction materials
  • Composites
  • Smart/Intelligent Materials

An engineer must be familiar with the characteristics of engineering products. Only after a thorough understanding of material properties will an appropriate material selection be produced for a building activity. The following table summarizes some critical properties of construction materials.

Physical properties

  • Shape
  • Size/dimensions
  • Unit weight
  • Specific Gravity

Thermal characteristics

  • Resistivity
  • Conductivity

Mechanical characteristics

  • Strength
  • Elastic behavior
  • Plastic behavior
  • Toughness
  • Hardness
  • Ductile and brittle behavior
  • Stiffness
  • Impact and fatigue

Volume change characteristics

  • Shrinkage
  • Creep

Chemical properties

  • Acid resistance
  • Ability to withstand corrosion

Optical and sound characteristics

  • Color
  • Ability to reflect or absorb light
  • Ability to reflect or absorb sound
  • Elastic behavior
  • Plastic behavior
  • Toughness


  • Unit weight: It is defined as mass / unit volume.
  • Porosity: The expression porosity refers to the extent to which pores occupy the volume of a substance. It is represented as a proportion of the pores’ volume to the volume of the sample.
  • Strength: Maximum stress a material can withstand without fracture.
  • Specific gravity: unit weight of a material divided by the unit weight of water.
  • Elasticity: It is the property of a substance that allows it to revert to its original shape and dimensions when an external load is removed.
  • Plastic deformation: the permanent deformation remaining in a material after the load is removed.
  • Ductility: It is the ability of a substance that allows it to be stretched out or elongated significantly before rupturing.
  • Brittleness: That is the characteristic of a substance that is the polar opposite of ductility. Brittle is a term that refers to a material that has a very little ability to bend, like elastic or rubber.
Exemplar Stress Strain Curve (Source)

Read Also: What is the Best Material for Construction?

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