Modern homes of today are not built and upgraded solely with brick and mortar. The main characteristic of contemporary homes is the fact that they are constructed and modified with a plethora of other, eco-friendly materials, which not only aim at protecting your home from diverse and harsh weather conditions but also aim at reducing the energy costs of your household. New, green homes are a great way of raising much-needed ecological awareness on a global level.
Unfortunately, many people are not even aware of all kinds of other materials that exist. They are used successfully nowadays to upgrade our homes. Some of these green materials include recycled steel, acrylic, insulating concrete forms, straw bales, vacuum insulation panels, structural insulated panels, plastic composite lumber and plant-based polyurethane foam, among others. Read more about the materials you can use as well as take a look at some great ways to modernize the home and boost its value.
Let’s start off with recycled steel. For better understanding’s sake, let’s compare the amount of wood and steel you normally need to build a house. To build an average house, you normally need around 40 to 50 trees.
However, if you use recycled steel instead, you need steel from 6 scrap cars and you’re good to go. Perhaps you would think that there’s no way steel could replace wood in the construction of a home. Well, actually it can replace it quite successfully. For instance, there are steel beams you can order as a replacement for wooden ones. You can even ask for a specific design; there are a lot of things that were inconceivable in the past, but now they can be done quite easily. As a material, it is pretty durable and it is a perfect construction material to be used in places with high winds and prone to earthquakes.
A handy type of plastic: Acrylic
Acrylic is a type of transparent thermoplastic with a lot of uses around the house. Basically, it is a cost-effective, light and durable replacement for glass. Compared to glass, it is 17 times stronger than glass, it is easy to cut as well as shape, it is shatter-resistant and weather-resistant also. Due to all these characteristics, an acrylic sheet can be used for aquariums and wherever a glass substitute is needed. A few things to keep in mind when it comes to working with acrylic: use a blunt drill for drilling the sheets, cut it with a fine-toothed blade such as the one on a panel saw, jigsaw, or a CNC router and manually screw any screws that are needed in order to avoid cracking. And to clean it, you only need warm soapy water and a soft cloth.
Insulating concrete forms
Even though insulating concrete forms have been around for quite some time now. They are beginning to gain popularity due to their energy-saving features. They are obtained by pouring concrete between two insulating layers and left in place. Usually, they are used for free-standing walls and building blocks.
If you haven’t heard about straw bales being used as an eco-friendly material yet, then it might come as a surprise to you. Straw bales have gained such popularity in modern home building due to their extreme resilience. For centuries, people have used them for roofing and beds, but nowadays they are more often used as an insulation material. So, if you’re considering upgrading your home and reducing your energy costs, think about using straw bales for doing just that. If you keep them dry, they can last up to even a few centuries. It’s also good to know that they bond well to external render and plaster.
Vacuum insulation panels
Vacuum insulation panels (VIP) represent the future of the building. Currently, they are mostly being used for commercial refrigeration units. It is highly possible that their use will be expanded to the whole house sometime in the near future. They consist of a textured silver rectangle that grasps a core panel in an envelope that’s airtight. Practically, it means that minimum heat is lost, thus paving a way for greener homes.
Structural insulated panels
Structural insulated panels are obtained from a layer of foam insulation that is closed between cement panels or plywood. As they are fire-resistant, they are quite suitable for basements, floors, load-bearing walls as well as foundations. Installing these panels helps in reducing your energy bills.
Plastic composite lumber
Plastic composite lumber is usually produced from wood fiber and waste plastic, so it is more durable and less toxic than traditionally treated wood. On the other hand, it is better than plastic as it is mold and rot resistant and it is more pliable in the heat. Also, it is more rigid in the cold. There are anti-slip types, which are convenient for bathrooms and outdoor decking.
In order to save our natural resources and ensure our planet’s survival, we should try to do everything that we can. A good way to start is to adjust and modify our homes to eco-friendly, green ones using some of these and many other sustainable materials.