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August 20, 2004 - editor.  Basic Materials (raw materials) used in Pattaya, Thailand construction and house building.  Information on basic materials like cement, metal and cement blocks.  Pictures of red bricks, 'superblocks', cement blocks and heavy cement blocks.  Pictures of various types of cements and rebar (metal).

There are various raw materials used in house construction, this article highlights some examples of the most important categories: cement, blocks and metal rebar.


Cement is of special import since it is the primary component which adds strength to the house.  Normally for smaller projects cement is hand mixed and poured, but there is a company called CPAC which will come and pour to the grade and quantity specified.  The hand mix cement normally comes in 50 kilogram bags, which is then mixed with sand and stone.  In some applications, such as affixing tile to the wall, no stone is used and the product is called cement.  If mixed with stone, which adds strength, it is called concrete.  There are many different brands and grades of cement.  A low quality cement will cost about 80% of a high quality grade, which I point out, since this is a very poor way to save money and is of course used by corner cutters to the disadvantage of house buyers.  As of this date a 50 kilogram bag of cement ranges in price from approximately 90 Baht to 130 Baht.  A standard durable recommended brand is tiger green label (suua).  A 100 square meter house might use 300 bags at most, with an approximate budget of  34,500 Baht, using a low quality cement would save just 6,000 Baht on the entire house.

There are 3 grades of CPAC which can be ordered.  The quality is comparable to hand mix.  (03-Apr-04)
A lower grade of TPI cement (bun kiaw).  Cements of this grade should normally be used in outside applications and are not suitable for walls or flooring of a house proper.  (21-Apr-04)
The standard high quality brand of cement used, tiger green (suua).
The best and most expensive hand-mix is elephant brand red (chaang).  It is about 10 % more expensive than the tiger brand.
An example of a premix cement.  The cement comes ready mixed with sand (but no stone).  This is used primarily for small jobs where it isn't worth it to get a load of sand brought in.
Fine sand as used to mix cement.  (20-Apr-04)
Stone as used to make concrete.  (20-Apr-04)
A typical mixing vat.  (21-Apr-04)
Cement mix is prepared depending on what is being done, but a normal mix would be 2 parts cement to 3 parts sand.  Add in 4 parts stone to yield concrete.  (20-Apr-04)



The basic materials for building houses are cement blocks, red bricks and superblocks.   The least expensive material is the cement block, followed by the red brick and the the more expensive superblock.  The cement block is produced locally is small factories and, although there is only one grade, sometimes the manufacturing process leaves the blocks not straight, which makes them harder to use.  Other times the raw material mix is not correct and the produced blocks are brittle.  As far as the brittle factor, you can check it by holding a block at shoulder height and dropping on a sandy surface.  It should not break up.  Red bricks are also a very popular material for building houses.  And nowadays more and more houses are being built with the superblocks.  The superblock a fairly light material with encapsulated air pockets which is designed as an insulator -- the idea being to keep the house cool.  The downside to superblocks are the cost and also the fact that most construction workers normally don't have experience with them.  Therefore a special team must be sought out at a higher than normal labor cost.

Another material which isn't used too often and is a bit difficult to find is the heavy cement block.  The weight of a regular cement block is about 5 kilograms, where the weight of a heavy cement block is about 13 kilograms.  These blocks make an excellent building material and can be used instead of the regular cement block to make the project more durable. 

A shot showing a regular cement block (5 kilograms) compared to a heavy cement block (13 kilograms).  (18-May-04)
The cement block is the most common material used in house construction.  The blocks are laid in rows, with cement used to fit each block in place.  (28-Mar-04)
Small red bricks.  (03-Apr-04)
A house being constructed from small red bricks.
Close up of small red brick construction.
The superblock.
House being built with superblock.
Close up of superblock construction.
This shows and application using the heavy cement block.  In this example it is being used to construct an underground water tank.  (18-May-04)

Metal Rebar

Metal rebar normally comes in long circular strands of 10 meters each.  The unit of measure is the 'hun', each hun being 3 millimeters in diameter.  The number of hun of the rebar determines its thickness, for example a metal rebar 4 hun would be 12 millimeters thick.  Above 2 hun, there will be various designations of full, normal or light.  These refer to the grade of the metal, with full being the best.  The rebar is the backbone of house construction, it is what gives the finished product strength.  It is used in the foundation columns, floor, walls and other areas.  As an example, normally the rebar used in the foundation column should be 4 hun full or more.  In flooring 2 or 3 hun strands will be used and tied together in a criss-cross pattern.  For more information on the hun, visit the blog article that here --> hun: unit of measure for metal rebar .

This is metal rolls, which are sometimes used in floor construction to save money (but not recommended).  A one Baht coin in the picture is used for scale.  (03-May-04)
This shows 2 hun and 3 hun strands.


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