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Thoughts on Building Materials

When thinking about what you want to build your off-grid house out of you need to consider your climate. For this exercise, we’re going to look at a tropical climate. It’s been a little while since I last wrote something on here, but I’ve been pretty busy between working and we just got back from a holiday in Thailand and Singapore. Some of the things that came to mind include:

  • Moisture
  • Mould/Mildew
  • Rain damage
  • UV Damage
  • Maintenance
  • Cost

What building materials would be best for some of the weather conditions in tropical climates? I met a fellow Australian who owns businesses and lives in Thailand. He mentioned a few things about his experiences, he was also building a house in a similar climate. He was a builder in Sydney for 20 years so I listened to what he had to say. He was going to be using a lot of louvers, bamboo composite materials internally and externally. He mentioned that he would be using a passive design to ensure he doesn’t need to use air conditioning very much.

Bamboo

I was already wanting to use Bamboo for the flooring internally and maybe some of the walls however I hadn’t heard much about external bamboo usage. Turns out there is a lot of products available that are bamboo based and pretty maintenance free. I’ve had some guys in the building industry I know here mention that bamboo warps when its gets wet or too moist which had me questioning my decision. After some research it turns out the reason for bamboo warping is due to the bamboo not being dried to around 10 – 13% water content before being used in the manufacture of the products. Prices in Australia are quite high for good quality bamboo flooring but I have managed to find some chinese manufacturers that I’d like to get some samples off to see how they hold up.

Wood Plastic Composite or WPC

Another product that has peaked my interests lately is WPC or Wood-Plastic Composite products. This is another product that is maintenance free, UV resistent, doesn’t discolour and has a very long life span. You probably would have come across WPC products in the last 5 years as a lot of public parks use benches and garbage bins made from the stuff. It is also very popular as a decking replacement. WPC cladding is also available in many different sizes and varieties. It’s also very fire resistant which is another plus. It’s also very affordable if sourced from China, but buyer beware.

This is just two of the hundreds of possible materials that go into building the house there are a lot of other materials such as masonry, structural insulated panels and more. We’ll continue to write about materials as they become available.

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