Are you intrigued by the benefits of modular construction, but you’re not sure what building materials go into a modular building? Are they strong enough? Are all modular buildings made of wood? Will these construction materials be strong enough to last a lifetime? Do you need them to last a lifetime?
For the answers to these questions, continue reading for an understanding of which modular construction materials are available to you.
*When we talk about modular construction materials, we’re referring to the bones of the infrastructure. If you’re interested in materials associated with interior and exterior finishings, you’ll be happy to know that those are customizable and completely up to you and your budget.
Recommended Reading: How long will my modular building last?
In general, there are three common construction materials associated with modular buildings or modular construction modules. These materials are wood, steel, and cement / concrete.
Each type of material has a specific purpose that your modular construction company can recommend to you based on the commercial building type that you need. It’s important to ask your modular building provider if their manufacturers work with the specific type of material you wish to use. For efficiency and specialization reasons, some manufacturers might only work with one or two of the above materials.
One of the most common and useful construction materials is wood. Cost efficiency, weight, and versatility make this a great option for either permanent modular buildings or temporary modular buildings. Used in many parts of modular buildings, a wood-framed module provides several key benefits to its users. Those benefits include:
As you can imagine, wood tends to be a lighter material to work with than steel or concrete framed construction (with some exceptions to aluminum). This means it’s easier for your carpenters to work with whether they’re assembling a wood-framed modular building with the aid of machinery or by hand.
As a general rule, wood is a sustainable building material on multiple fronts. Given appropriate harvesting and overall forestry practices, wood can very much be a sustainable part of your construction.
On the other side of this, wood is also quite reusable. When you’re ready to disassemble a building or part of a building, healthy wood can always be reused. It will also naturally decompose if it’s untreated, making it less harmful to the environment no matter where it ends up.
Modular buildings made from wood also have lower toxicity levels.
Wood is a highly durable construction material. And while modular construction buildings made of wood used to primarily be used for single-story structures, advancements in technology and engineering have made multi-story wood buildings a reality.
It has been noted by other modular construction companies as well as the Modular Building Institute that as wood dries it increasingly hardens. This hardening process increases the overall strength and durability of a building.
Finally, wood modular construction projects are better at providing insulation and reduced energy waste. As a general rule, wood is better at insulating than steel or concrete as its cellular structure allows it to maintain heat energy. A wooden structure with additional insulation materials will help you save on your energy bills.
Additionally, wood-framed buildings provide better insulation from electrical shock as well. This is particularly useful during times of construction and maintenance should an electrical problem occur.
Steel or Metal framed buildings are another popular modular construction option. Often associated with larger building projects and buildings that require a longer lifespan, steel has some big advantages.
One of the major advantages of using a steel-frame building is that it’s noncombustible. This creates a safer space for employees or guests. It also means that damage caused by fire will potentially be limited and the bones of the infrastructure will remain useable with proper repairs.
We often think of Steel as very strong and rigid. And it is. But we also know that steel can be used in modular construction to provide durability to more interesting shapes such as arches or rounded features. Where wood often requires straight lines, steel makes for a great use in customizable modular construction.
As mentioned in the above section, steel is strong. That’s why we use it to build our tallest commercial construction projects. And that’s why people use steel beams to run long spans without additional column support.
Steel, if properly protected from corrosion, will also last a long time and survive the severest of weather conditions. And with the technology of lightweight metals such as aluminum, more and more modular construction projects benefit from the ease of use and the ability to construct multi-material projects that might feature metal and wood frames.
Steel modular-framed buildings are often ideal for permanent modular buildings.
Another interesting feature of steel modules is that because of the way frames can be bolted and fitted together, they can be more convenient to dismount from one another. If you want to remove, replace, or add a new modular space onto your building, it’s often very easy with steel construction.
While more associated with traditional, onsite building techniques, concrete has a unique place as a construction material for modular buildings as well. Reinforced with the appropriate fiber and steel, these buildings are generally best for permanent modular construction.
Buildings made from concrete materials make for great utility or outdoor buildings. Some examples might be school sporting event restrooms or team rooms.
From concrete tiles to reinforced walls, these buildings are strong. It should be noted that they’re often labor intensive as the skill to appropriately erect, sculpt and trowel takes time and an experienced team.
Once in place, however, concrete modular buildings are solid, heavy buildings. It’s more common to see foundations and core parts of a modular building utilize concrete while supplementing with steel or wood for the remainder of the structural framework.
Consult VESTA Modular on your next commercial construction endeavor. As one of the country’s largest commercial general contractors, our award winning team would be happy to help you build your new space. Select the “Request a Quote Button” or Contact Us to get started, today!