THE UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST INDIES

FACULTY OF ENGINEERING
CVNG 1005 -

COSTRUCTION MATERIALS

INTRODUCTION TO CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS
Lecture aims:

Provide a definition of ‘matter’ and a basic knowledge of some fundamental
physical and chemical properties of materials.

Explore and list the range of material types used in the construction
industry.

Provide a basic knowledge of some environmental aspects of current
construction materials

The Oxford English Dictionary defines matter as:
“..a physical substance in general as distinct from mind and
spirit”
and;
“..that which has mass and occupies space”
Everything, from your classroom walls floor and roof to the air we breath is matter.

Matter makes up everything including living things like plants, insects birds fish,
domesticated and wild animals and people.
Matter also makes non-living things such as tables and chairs. Things as big as an
elephant or as tiny as a grain of sand on a beach are matter.

Matter exists in three different states:
solid,
liquid and
gas.

States of matter
Under most conditions, matter can exist as a solid, liquid or gas, each of which has
certain distinct characteristics. Under certain extreme conditions of heat matter can exist

evidence for which comes from consideration of the reactions and properties of solids. giving the material a definite shape and a fixed volume. naturally found in the sun’s interior. On a fundamental level it is believed that all matter consists of tiny particles called atoms. The Kinetic Theory of Matter helps to explain (a) the flow or transfer of heat and (b) The relationship between pressure. (KTM) The Kinetic Theory of Matter (KTM) Definition: The Kinetic Theory of Matter (KTM) states that matter is composed of a large number a small particles that are in constant motion. liquid and gas) has specific properties Solids Molecules in solids maintain fixed positions. can be created artificially. Each atom is made up of a combination of these particles. liquids and gases. therefore everything exists in THREE states as a solid. Such conditions. The movement of particles is explained by the Kinetic Theory of Matter. Protons are much larger and heavier than electrons and have the opposite charge. (c) The temperature of a body as a measure of the average kinetic energy of it particles. Properties of matter Each state (Solid. Neutrons are large and heavy like protons. The tightly packed molecules (a molecule is defined as the smallest unit of . protons have a positive charge (+). a liquid. very light particles that have a negative electrical charge (-). (d) the differences between the different states (or phases) of matter Assumptions The Kinetic Theory of Matter assumes that:  Particles are small and widely separated. protons and neutrons. Electrons are tiny.  If Matter is everything. These particles have different properties. or a gas.  They collide and exchange energy. termed plasma.in fourth state. however neutrons have no electrical charge. Atoms are made up of 3 types of particles electrons. temperature and volume properties of gases.

……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ………… The temperature at which a solid becomes a liquid is called its melting point. . Solids Molecules in solids maintain fixed positions. giving the material a definite shape and a fixed volume.substance that retains the properties of that substance) are held together by bonding (usually covalent or ionic). It is a state of matter in which the molecules are loosely bound by intermolecular forces and are slightly further apart than in a solid. The temperature at which a liquid becomes a solid is its freezing point. At this point. or vibration. The particles have low kinetic energy and although they vibrate around their fixed positions they cannot move from one place to another (Figure 2). which is increased by heat. of the molecules. The tightly packed molecules (a molecule is defined as the smallest unit of substance that retains the properties of that substance) are held together by bonding (usually covalent or ionic).e. Figure 2 . the random motion. They have a higher kinetic energy and can move freely (Figure 3). it will usually assume the shape of the container in which it is held). and the temperature at which it becomes a gas is its boiling point (Figure 4).movement of particles in the solid state Liquid A liquid has a definite volume but no definite shape (i. causes them to become excited and break loose the bonds that keep them in place.

and the temperature at which it becomes a gas is its boiling point (Figure 4). or vibration. causes them to become excited and break loose the bonds that keep them in place. The particles have low kinetic energy and although they vibrate around their fixed positions they cannot move from one place to another (Figure 2). The temperature at which a liquid becomes a solid is its freezing point. of the molecules. Figure 2 . It is a state of matter in which the molecules are loosely bound by intermolecular forces and are slightly further apart than in a solid. At this point. the random motion.movement of particles in the solid state Liquid A liquid has a definite volume but no definite shape (i.e. which is increased by heat. .……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ………… The temperature at which a solid becomes a liquid is called its melting point. it will usually assume the shape of the container in which it is held). They have a higher kinetic energy and can move freely (Figure 3).

Gases Gases have no fixed shape or volume.Figure 3 . the boiling point also depends on the pressure exerted. creating what is known as gas pressure.. The force of attraction between the molecules of a gas is small because of the relatively large distances between the molecules (Figure 4). The volume of a gas is affected by changes in temperature and pressure. The temperature at which a gas becomes a liquid is called its condensation point.movement of particles in the liquid state. ………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………… . BOYLES LAW ………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………. The temperature at which a liquid becomes a gas is called its boiling point. As a result the molecules are always in motion and will continually collide with each other or the walls of the container that they are in.

movement of particles in the gas state Figure 5 Behavior of matter with change in temperature Plasma Plasma is a form of matter that initially exists as a gas and then becomes ionized (i. an atom which carry a positive or negative charge) and consists of free moving ions and electrons. without going through a liquid phase is termed sublimation. Sublimation.e.e.Figure 4 . It exhibits different properties from any of the other states of matter. A change of state directly from a solid to a gas or a gas to a solid (i. Classification of matter Matter can be classified into three groups: .

   Elements Compounds Mixtures Describe what is element……………………………………………………………………………………. A mixture is a combination of two or more substances that retain their individual properties.Elements. seawater and rock.. They are held together by physical rather than chemical mechanisms and include soil. compounds & mixtures: relationships One or more elements mixed with one or more compounds . A compound is a substance composed of two or more elements chemically combined in a definite proportion. They can be broken down into their constituent elements only by chemical change. Examples of a mixture include solutions and suspensions. atoms or molecules) of two or more substances Matter Elements Compounds (Homogeneous) (Homogeneous) metals Mixtures Non-metals Covalent (Can be homogeneous or heterogeneous) Ionic Types of mixtures One element mixed with one or more other elements One compound mixed with one or more other compounds Figure 1 . A solution is a mixture that is uniform throughout (homogenous) and contains the very smallest particles (ions. ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ….

melting point. E.Extend figure 1 to show that the elements are the building blocks of all materials: ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… Physical properties of matter ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ………….g. strength. taste.Densities of common substance at 20oC Density (kg/m3) Substance Aluminum Copper Iron Gold 2700 8960 7870 19320 . odour. thermal conductivity and elasticity.Freezing and boiling points of common substances Substance Iron Mercury Nitrogen Oxygen Water Freezing point (oC) 1535 -39 -209 -218 0 Boiling point (oC) 2750 357 -196 -183 100 Table 2 . colour. density. boiling point. Those that are not dependent include. Table 1 . hardness. Some properties are dependent upon the amount of substance that is being observed such as volume and mass.

cladding. Uses include: Structural steelwork. aluminum and zinc also used.165 Materials in the Construction Industry It could be argued that ‘Construction’. fasteners. is primarily involved with the movement and assembly of materials. in all its forms. whether building or civil engineering. scaffolding. wiring/electrical components and architectural furniture. other metals such as copper.1663 0. lead. roofing. plant & tools. that is the most widely used metal in construction. trench support.Silver Lead 10500 11350 Chloroform Ethyl Alcohol Mercury Water 1490 790 13550 1000 Helium Hydrogen Oxygen Nitrogen 0. pipes. sheet piling. Wood . concrete reinforcing bar.331 1. The following shows the main material ‘types’ used in construction along with some of their applications Metals Although it is predominantly steel.0837 1. wall ties. formwork.

sub-base material. uses include: fill material. dams. aggregates and cement production. crushed rock. embankments. landscaping. floors. Uses include: Foundations. pre-cast (e. bricks. sea defence. lintels etc).Find from the literature different types of wood and their application in construction industry ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………… Soils/rock Generally refers to quarried. topsoil. roof tiles. roads. screeds. Cementitious/concrete products ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………… …………. building blocks. piles. blocks. structural reinforced concrete. Bituminous materials . blockwork. reservoirs. Concrete is produced when mixed with fine and coarse aggregate. dredged or excavated material and includes sands and gravels. stone cladding. grouting and soil stabilization.g. retaining walls and mortars. sea defence.

It softens when heated. has adhesive properties and softens when heated. sheeting. aluminium and other metal alloys PVC. Polymers Polymers are compounds with very large molecules made up of repeating molecular units (long chains). geotextiles. 1995) Environmental Considerations . paints and adhesives. roofing.000 3. SP116. concrete additives. adhesives. coal tar. polyethylene. Polymers can be natural such as cellulose.850. window frames. and bitumen from crude petroleum (Petroleum bitumen). cable insulation.000 >550. They can generally be described as non-crystalline solid/viscous material containing complex hydrocarbons. starch and rubber or artificial such as plastics and nylons. composite materials (carbon fibre).350. It can be natural or derived. Monomers are small molecules from which polymers are made. Type Minerals Metals Plastics Paints Timber products Materials included Crushed rock and gravel Steel.000. polyurethane Paints. fiberglass.The title is generally taken to include natural asphalt. foams.000 410.000 3. emulsions and varnishes Plywood and particleboard Annual Consumption (t) 254. Expansion joints and surface coatings. polystyrene. Road construction (asphalt). pipework. copper. brass. Uses include: sealants. waterproofing applications.000m3 Table 3 Quantities of materials used in UK construction (CIRIA.

g.. In this. This has resulted in legislation and initiatives (e. delivery. CO2. low maintenance. Some of these impacts can be listed as follows:  ……………………………………………………………………………………. low pollution associated with its production. the governments have adopted the concept of sustainable development at both a national and local level. environmental impact of the material is considered in terms of :  ……………………………………………………………  ……………………………………………………………  …………………………………………………………. ‘green’ materials are selected for their low consumption of scarce raw materials.e. In the United Kingdom and other developed countries. including toxic waste (e. cement production is a significant contributor to national carbon dioxide. once installed.  Disposal of materials can waste materials. long life and potential for recycling and re-use. 1990) and the increased use of ‘green’ construction materials.g. which could be re-used. can release toxic gases which can affect occupant health (i. sick building syndrome)  ……………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………… ……. requires landfill space and can degrade groundwater. Environ mental Protection Act.Environmental impacts The construction industry arguably has a number of negative impacts on the environment with construction materials forming a significant part of those impacts. Sustainable . a technique called whole life cycle assessment is used. use and disposal. emissions)  Some materials. To determine whether a material is ‘green’..  …………………………………………………………. Generally..  Manufacturing produces pollution and waste.  ………………………………………………………….

china clay waste. pulverized fuel ash (PFA). rubber.. steel and other metals. railway ballast. Its broad aims are: a) b) c) ……………………………………………………………………………… . sewage slag. timber. Harlow: Pearson Education Ltd. crushed concrete for use as an aggregate in concrete. The construction industry has been identified as playing an important part in such development by addressing “what it builds. topsoil. Ch. (2001) Materials in construction–an introduction. The subject of materials is highlighted as being of particular importance. foundry sand.development can be defined as development. particularly in the areas of waste disposal and consumption of new resources Increased usage of recycled materials will result in a reduction in the use of primary materials and the production of less waste. . 3rd Ed.. Examples of recyclable materials include: Reclaimed bricks. Blast furnace slag. colliery spoil..D. Further reading Selected reading of CIRIA publications referred to in the text (available through the Construction Information Database accessible via the Learning Centres website) TAYLOR. where it builds and how it builds”. 1. G. ……………………………………………………………………………… . which aims to meet the needs of the present without compromising the needs of the future. ……………………………………………………………………………… .. demolition rubble. roofing tiles.