The Australian Dream Series


Building Materials

There is a diverse choice in the type of materials that can be used in the construction and finish for your new home or extension.
Australian home builders have a choice of materials and finishes surpassing many other countries, with many of our innovative products and technologies in high demand internationally.

The problem facing many owners is which product to use.

Your individual requirements and the style of home that you are looking to build will narrow the field but even so, a lot of investigation and thought will still need to employed in making your final choice.

In general terms exterior finishes, or the envelope, of homes can mainly be classified as the following -

Roofing -
Tiles - Concrete or Terracotta in a variety of colours.
Steel - In many profiles such as Corrugated Steel, Span Deck, Klip-Lok, HiTen etc with finishes ranging from Zincalume (silver) through to many choices of 'colorbond' colours.

Cladding -
Brick - available in several sizes, colours and with smooth or textured surfaces.
Weatherboard - available in a large range of profiles in materials including Baltic pine, Cedar, Treated pine, Celluous fibre cement (HardiPlank type product), Compressed wood fibre (Weathertex type product).
Sheet - Plywood (Shadowclad), Celluous fibre cement (HardiTex), Compressed wood fibre (Weathertex sheets).
Aerated concrete blocks and panels.
Mud bricks.
Straw Bale.
Rammed earth.

There are many more products on the market, but traditionally homes throughout Australia are finished in brick, weatherboard, sheet or a combination of each. This mainly comes about due to affordability, availability, and Builders familiarity (compfort) with the products.

With an extension to an existing dwelling you will be looking to match the new exterior cladding to the existing cladding type so as to tie the building together to not look like an add-on.
Despite this important factor the materials used under the 'envelope' can be varied to suit your requirements. In the situation where the original floor may have been constructed from timber, a concrete slab (depending upon site conditions) may be employed as an alternative if you are looking at maximising on solar heat gain.
Replicas of original architraves and skirtings etc. can often be obtained in alternative lower cost materials.
With an upper storey extension on a brick home, a product such as Harditex can be used successfully in preference to continuing, in some cases, the more costly brick finish. Many people looking to extend and update the appearance of an older home elect to use a light weight system that can provide a rendered finish and also render the existing outdated brickwork to match.

New homes can be clad in the one type of material or a combination of material types depending upon the look you are seeking to achieve.
A Tudor style home may have a tile roof, solid brick or brick veneer cladding, a gable style roof with the gable end in flat sheet with detailed timber straps.
A log cabin style home would be more suited to a steel roof rather than tiles.
A beach side home design may better suit to a colorbond steel roof with vertical treated pine cladding.

Foundations for a home incorporating wide verandahs may be better in timber to achieve the height required. -see Ceiling Heights for related information.
A concrete slab type floor construction with fewer steps at entrances and exits may be a priority to those with mobility restrictions.

In summary, even though we have a vast range of materials at our disposal, the final choice will be greatly influenced by the style of home, your personal requirements and your budget.

Construction methods >>