From concrete caulk to concrete wall paint, concrete is a staple in many homes.
The next best option is metal, according to a study of more than 100,000 homes, and a variety of metals is the best option for most applications.
“Metal is the way to go if you’re building an aging home,” says Daniel Gertler, the director of research and development at AON, a Boston-based consulting firm that studies consumer electronics.
A study released Wednesday by Gertlers research team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, found that concrete is the cheapest material to buy for homes that need to withstand extreme weather events.
That’s because of a key ingredient in concrete: the water, called gypsum.
When concrete cauls in the rain or snow, it absorbs water from the ground and builds up, creating an impermeable surface.
“Concrete is the most stable material, and the best material for durability,” says Gertlin, who worked with the team at MIT to develop the study.
“The only other material that is stable enough to be used for buildings is wood.”
For homes built in the 1970s and 1980s, Gertels team found that the most popular metal for use in concrete was a common material, like aluminum or steel.
The team used a variety, including steel, aluminum, copper, and magnesium.
Steel is also the most commonly used material for steel frame construction.
In other words, if you want concrete to last forever, steel is the choice.
Aluminum was used in two out of three of the most common applications of concrete.
The researchers also used the aluminum in the metal-piping industry to make metal sheets for roofs.
“It is a common choice in concrete, and I think you will see that the use of aluminum is more prevalent in buildings than other types of concrete,” Gertls team said in a press release.
But concrete isn’t always easy to use.
For example, some manufacturers offer products for building owners that make concrete brittle, such as steel.
Gertli’s team tested a variety products on homes, from a wall paint that was supposed to last three years to a concrete caulier that lasted only six months.
“We looked at the materials used and compared them to other products in the market and found that, in fact, aluminum is a more stable material than steel,” Gortler said.
“And it’s also more durable, as well.
It’s harder to break, it’s more resistant to corrosion, and it’s a lot easier to heat.”
Aluminum is also cheaper to produce than concrete.
It can be used in just a few parts.
For instance, aluminum can be produced from a small amount of steel, a process called “molybdenum distillation,” which uses the same basic process as making steel.
“You can make it from about 0.3% to 4.7% aluminum,” Gollier said.
That is, it costs about $20 a tonne to make a ton of aluminum, according the U.S. Department of Energy.
That means it can be sold for $2,000 to $2.5 million, according Toomey, a spokesperson for the company.
But that’s only the start of the cost savings that come with using aluminum in concrete.
“Our findings are encouraging that the availability of aluminum for concrete is increasing in popularity,” Toomeie said in an email.
The metal is also cheap because it can’t be recycled, he added.
“If you’re using aluminum, it can last for decades.
We have to be careful not to overuse it because we don’t want to throw away all the precious metals we use in the concrete.”
But aluminum is expensive, and so are the applications.
If you’re looking to use aluminum in your home, make sure to consider the energy it requires to produce, to heat, and to use it in building materials.
The study also looked at a variety concrete products.
For one product, called concrete lite, the researchers tested a mixture of cement, cementite, and aluminum.
The cement used in the mix was 50% limestone, 20% gypsunite, 15% cementite.
“In our tests, cement and cementite are not that different in their performance from the other products we tested,” said Gertlels team.
“There is a small difference in their water content, and that is the reason we have to use gypsurite in the lime mixture.
But, overall, we found that cement is the material that offers the best performance.”