If you are building a new home, you will have a lot of decisions to make. Chief among them is which building materials you will use to construct your new home. While you’ll be presented with plenty of traditional options, there are a host of modern, innovative building materials you will want to consider to make your home more durable, energy-efficient, eco-friendly and safer.
Insulated Concrete Form
While many homeowners will debate about wood versus metal stud construction, there’s an innovative choice that provides superior results: insulated concrete form (ICF). ICF construction involves using premade shells of expanded polystyrene (EPS). Two outer layers of EPS are joined in the middle by molded plastic ties. The ICP blocks are stacked into the desired wall configuration and secured with steel rods. Cement is poured down the middle to create the walls of the home. The result is a structure that is insulated and energy-efficient, and resistant to mold, mildew, termite and fire damage.
Fiber Cement Exterior Paneling
On the home’s exterior, fiber cement has become a favorite material for home designers. Constructed from a mixture of wood pulp, fly ash or silica, Portland cement and water, fiber cement panels are a durable option for an exterior finish, and they will stand up to freezing temperatures, humid weather and intense heat and sun with minimal maintenance. Fiber cement is superior to stone veneer siding and is rapidly becoming more popular than stucco and vinyl. The panels can be made to mirror nearly any type of exterior finish, including clapboard and wood shingles. Alternative configurations, such as beadboard, allow the material to be used for other exterior treatments, such as patio ceilings.
If you are looking to lower the environmental impact of your new home, permeable paving offers the perfect building option. When you put down permeable pavement, the surface allows stormwater to filter through the paving material, rather than running off as it would with traditional paving surfaces. That means that stormwater can filter naturally through the pavement as it would if it fell on the ground. Covering a lot with permeable surfaces, as opposed to traditional paving surfaces, reduces stormwater runoff and flooding, leading to easier stormwater management and a healthier stormwater system. Permeable paving is as strong and durable as traditional paving options, and it comes in a variety of types so you can choose a permeable surface that best fits your needs. It can be used for driveways, sidewalks, patios and more.
Engineered Quartz Countertops
There are new building materials you can integrate into your custom home’s interior, as well. Engineered quartz bath countertops have become a popular choice for home decorators. Countertops in this style are made by mixing ground quartz with resins and polymers. The quartz gives countertops beautiful shine and dimension, while the resins and polymers create a nonporous surface that won’t warp or discolor with the humidity of the bathroom. Quartz countertops require minimal maintenance, and they have very high stain and bacteria resistance.
Cork floors provide another interesting option for interior building materials. Cork flooring isn’t new, but it has become popular as an eco-friendly building material. Cork floors are made from the bark of the cork tree, and many cork flooring products now are made from recycled cork products, such as wine corks, to be even more environmentally friendly. Cork floors are antimicrobial and hypoallergenic. They can be refinished to refresh their look, and while cork is naturally porous, sealed cork flooring provides an interesting finish in bathrooms and shower stalls. There’s no doubt that you will be presented with many building material options as you build your new home. It can be tempting to go for more conventional materials, but taking the time to explore innovating home building materials can reward you with a home that is more durable, more energy-efficient and easier to maintain.
Matt Lee is the owner of the Innovative Construction and Building Materials blog and a content writer for the building materials industry. He is focused on helping fellow homeowners, contractors, and architects discover materials and methods of construction that save money, improve energy efficiency, and increase property value.