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KING FAISAL UNIVERSITY

COLLEGE OF ARCHITECTURE & PLANNING


DEPARTMENT OF BUILDING SCIENCE AND
TECHNOLOGY

Master Thesis

Selection of Suitable Building


Materials for Concrete Buildings
in the Eastern Province of Saudi
Arabia:
A Computerized Interactive Module Guide
for Proper Selection

By
Aref Hamad Al-Roumi

January, 2004

Selection of Suitable Building


Materials for Concrete Buildings
in the Eastern Province of Saudi
Arabia:
A Computerized Interactive Module Guide for
Proper Selection

By
Aref Hamad Al-Roumi

A Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for


the Degree of Master in Building Scince Department of
Building Scince and Technology
College of Architecture & Planning
King Faisal University

January, 2004

Table of Contents
List of Figures.
List of Tables..
Abstract (English)...
Abstract (Arabic)

vii
viii
vii
viii

1 . Introduction

1.1
1.2
1.3
1.4
1.5
1.6
1.7

1
4
5
7
8
9
9

Background
The Selection Process
Statement of the Problem...
Goal and Objectives of the Study..
Scope and Limitations of the Study..
Significance of the Study...
Research Methodology..

2 . Literature Review

12

2.1
2.2
2.3

12
15
17

Systematic Approach...
Related Studies
Internet Sites.

3 . Selection Criteria

29

3.1
3.2
3.3
3.4
3.5
3.6
3.7

29
32
33
34
34
35
36

Physical and Mechanical Properties..


Thermal Properties.
Electrical Properties...
Chemical Properties...
Water-Related Criteria...
Fire Criteria
Durability of Building Materials...

4 . Environmental and Climatic Factors

37

4.1
4.2
4.3
4.4
4.5
4.6
4.7

38
39
40
41
42
44
45

Temperature...
Humidity
Wind..
Solar Radiation..
Pollutants...
Combinations.
Functional Factors..

5 . Preliminary Evaluation of Building Materials Selection Process


and Methods

46

5.1
5.2
5.3

46
48
49
49
52
57
60
61

Introduction...
Data Analysis
Analysis of the Results.
5.3.1
5.3.2
5.3.3
5.3.4

Participants Profile.
Selection of Finishing Materials During Design Stage...
Selection of Finishing Materials During Construction Stage..
Participants Comments..

5.4 Observations..
iii

6 . Building Materials

63

6.1
6.2

Basic Categories of Materials..


Thermal Insulation Materials...

63
64

6.2.1
6.2.2
6.2.3
6.2.4
6.2.5
6.2.6

66
67
68
69
69
70

6.3

6.4

Polyurethane.
Polystyrene..
Mineral (Rock) Wool..
Glass Fiber
Perlite...
Selection Tips...............
Paints
6.3.1 Major Types of Paints.
6.3.2 Selection Criteria.
6.3.3 The Choice Between Solvent and Water-Based Paints...
6.3.4 The Choice of Gloss Level..
6.3.5 Remarks Regarding Finishes..
6.3.6 Selection Tips..

71

Stone.

92

6.4.1
6.4.2
6.4.3
6.4.4
6.4.5

93
94
95
96
98

Limestone
Marble.
Granite.
Criteria for Selection...
Selection Tips..

75
82
84
87
88
89

7 . The Module Guide: Building Materials Selection Guide

100

7.1
7.2
7.3

Introduction..
Module Structure..
Criteria Questions.

100
101
104

7.3.1
7.3.2
7.3.3

104
106
110

7.4

Exterior and Interior Paints.


Thermal Insulation Materials..
Stone

Example for Testing the Module

112

8 . Al-Mabna.com: Web Site Model

117

8.1
8.2
8.3
8.4

117
117
118
122

Introduction
Goals of the Site.
Contents of the Site
Site Map.

9 . Conclusion and Recommendations

124

9.1
9.2

Conclusion.....................................................................
Recommendations.............................

124
127

References..
Appendix A

129
134

Meteorological & Environmental Data of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia

Appendix B
Appendix B-1: Questionnaire...
Appendix B-2: Participated Engineering Office ...
Appendix C

iv

145
149
150

Abstract
Improper selection of building materials that do not suit the maritime
desert climate of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia was believed to be
one of the main reasons behind premature failure of building materials. In
this thesis, the process and methods of selection of building materials have
been evaluated through a preliminary study in which a questionnaire was
circulated among notable and established Engineering Offices in the
Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. The results of the preliminary study have
shown the need for a material selection guide.
Then, after carefully studying the environmental factors of the
maritime desert climate and its effect on the materials and defining major
criteria for building materials selection, selected building materials (paints,
thermal insulation materials and stone), were studied in terms of,
properties, reactions to the environment and their functional requirements.
These studies were utilized to develop a computerized module called
Building Materials Selection Guide to help architects, designers,
consultants, engineers and owners select the proper types of these selected
building materials.
Finally, a virtual website called Al-Mabna.com was set-up in
order to accommodate and provide popularity of the module with other
useful related services in the Arabian Gulf Region.

vii



.


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( .

.
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.

viii

Introduction

specifications. The performance specification is the one where the results


of the product, rather than the product itself, are specified. The descriptive
specification describes the components of a product and how they are to be
assembled. It is the description of a material and its use. Usually it is used
where the architect or the specifier wants more than a minimum
performance. The brand-name specification is the one where the desired
material is specified by the name given by the manufacturer or by the
manufacturers name and the model number. The closed specification is the
one in which the architect/engineer specifies one or more than one material.
The open specification is called open because it includes all materials
that meet the performance or descriptive specifications. It also includes the
brand-name specifications if the phrase or equal or or approved equal
or similar wording is added after the brand-name. This type of specification
is used most commonly for public work. The last type, reference
specification, is basically a performance or descriptive type but may refer
to a published, standard specification to indicate properties and quality
desired and methods of test required [1].
For

example,

finishing

materials

are

important

functional

components of a building. They have a lot to do with ones visual and


tangible appreciation of a building. People sense their shapes, colors,
patterns, and textures. Finishing materials affect the acoustic and lighting
levels of a building. Flooring materials are the buildings primary wearing
surfaces, subject to water, grit, dust and the abrasive and penetrating actions
of feet and furniture. Exterior finishing materials that covers the buildings
roof and walls is considered as the first line of defense against weathering.
They provide protection for the enclosure as well as the interior of the
building from sun, rain, and snow. In addition, they help to insulate the
building from extremes of heat and cold, and control the accompanying
2

Introduction

problems of condensation of water vapor; and like any front-line defender,


the finishing materials must confront and control the attack. They must be
strong and durable enough to resist as long as possible the destructive force
of nature [2].
In building practice materials have to be selected to meet a number
of functional requirements and to ensure that harmful deterioration is
delayed for as long as possible. When selecting building materials the
architect/engineer takes into account many factors. These factors include
mechanical, thermal, electrical, and chemical properties of the material.
Factors also include materials durability, suitability for the environment
and place to be installed in, its costs, appearance and shapes available of
the material. The properties of the materials will be discussed in Chapter
Three. The durability is the quality of maintaining a satisfactory appearance
and satisfactory performance of required functions. Durability highly
influences the decision of selecting the required material.
The engineer responsible for product or material selection should
also correlate established performance criteria with identified construction
failures order to avoid future problems. Possible Construction failures may
occur due to the following factors: improper selection, lack of quality
control during manufacturing, incorrect application or installation,
improper continued use, and lack of maintenance. The engineer should be
aware of each point of possible failure in product and material development
and use [3].

Introduction

1.2 The Selection Process


Any satisfactory selection of building materials always
requires knowledge of physical properties of these materials and an
adequate selection procedure or relevant standards. Any construction
project originates in the mind of the owner. Usually, he is concerned with
the cost of the project and the service it will provide. Then, a designer is
hired who, among other things, is responsible for selection of all
construction materials to achieve the desired performance within the budget
cost. He must consider the performance of each component, its
appearance, its initial cost, maintenance expenses and useful life
expectancy.
The designer may then select the material or assemblies he wants, or
prepare specifications describing the performance required and let the
builder do the selection within the requirements of the specifications
subject to the approval of the person supervising the construction.
If the designer specifies exactly what materials and assemblies are to
be incorporated into the project, he knows, either from past experience or
from investigation, that they will be satisfactory. He avoids the risk of
using something new or unfamiliar. He also tries to achieve something that
is more economical or performs better. If the designer specifies
performance in terms of appearance, strength, and other features, he has the
benefit of the builders experience in selecting the most economical
materials. Specifications must be very carefully written to prevent any
lower quality products from satisfying the specification requirements. The
builders selections must be carefully investigated to make sure they are
acceptable according to the specifications. The process of materials
selection is shown in Figure 1.1 [4].

Introduction

Analysis of the Problem


Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

9
9
9
9

Performance required
Useful life required
Allowable cost
Maintenance expense

Comparison of Available
Materials or Products with the
Criteria in Step 1

Design or Selection of
Materials
9
9
9

Type and size


Shape and finish
Method of preserving

Figure 1.1 The Process of specifying materials

1.3 Statement of the Problem


Failures of materials, construction and other parts of buildings,
dissatisfaction with the environment and other criticisms about modern
building have been frequently reported in the press, and discussed at
conferences. The Arabian Gulfs seaboard constitutes one of the most
aggressive environments for concrete buildings durability in the world.
Reduction in the useful service-life of concrete building materials is a
major constraint on the economy of the Gulf Region. The low durability
performance of these materials is due to several interactive factors. These
are determined mainly by the adverse climate and geomorphic conditions
in conjunction with inadequate material specifications and construction
practices [5]. As mentioned before, finishing materials are the buildings
first line of defense against weather and other destructive factors. Durable
exterior and even interior finishing materials provide major protection for
5

Introduction

the concrete structural systems. Finishing materials are considered as the


interface between the environment and the structural systems. The selection
and specifying of inappropriate finishing materials is widely realized in
various, small building projects and even some large projects. This
indicates the lack of proper selection of finishing materials that suit the
environment conditions in the region.
A survey in this regard found that nearly all of the design
professionals in the Dammam and Al-Khobar areas do not use any sort of
rational, systematic approach in building materials selection [6]. This
indicates the lack of care in specifying material among these engineering
offices.
Another major problem is found where the Engineering Design
Offices do not specify construction materials. Study on the construction
practice of residential buildings in Riyadh showed that among 29 building
site-visited, only few design packages contain the types and specifications
of materials to be used [7]. This leads to owners influence in the selection
of these materials with no technical knowledge of building materials and
engineering background. Selection of building materials based on owners
personal preference usually results in failure of these materials to fulfill
their functional requirements. Most of the time the owner fails to select the
appropriate materials, which lead to defects in the whole building. This will
force the owner to rehabilitate his building after just a few years from
construction, while the problem could have been avoided from the
beginning.

Introduction

1.4 Goal and Objectives of the Study


The main goal of the study is to help the professionals and owners
of buildings to design a durable structure.
The objectives are as follows:
1- To investigate and evaluate the process and methods of selecting

common finishing materials for concrete buildings by the Engineering


Design Offices in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia through
questionnaire.
2- To study the general properties of selected building materials in order to

classify them and compare between their types from functional


performance point of view, and based on their characteristics, use,
durability, and suitability for maritime desert climate.
3- To define the general basic selection criteria of the building materials

that has direct relation to the materials functions and performance in


the building.
4- To

investigate

and

study

the

general characteristics of the

environmental conditions in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia as an


example for maritime desert climate in order to determine its effects on
the materials.
5- To

design

building

materials

selection

module

that

advise/recommend the proper types of the selected building


materials based on answers to specific/predetermined questions. The
module is proposed to help architects/designers, consultant
engineers, and owners to select for their projects/buildings the
7

Introduction

appropriate building materials that suit the maritime desert climates


of the Arabian Gulf area and fulfill the required functions. This will
be accomplished through linking the basic properties of the
materials

types

with

the

environmental

and

functional

requirements.
6- To design a proposed web site model of virtual building center that

contains the building materials selection module in addition to other


useful services for the advantage of the construction industry in the
Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. The proposed site will contribute
in the effort of knowledge dissemination about building materials.

1.5 Scope and Limitations of the Study


The first part of the study, which is the preliminary evaluation of
materials selection process and methods, will be conducted only among
Engineering Design Offices that are working in the Eastern Province for
the project they designed in this region. The building materials selected for
the module guide are paint, thermal insulation materials and stone. Out of
these materials, only the types that are suitable for concrete buildings and
available in the Arabian Gulf countries will be studied. Also the
comprehensive study of the mentioned materials is going to be limited to
basic knowledge, categories and properties (mechanical, thermal, chemical,
electrical) of these materials.
Quantitative measures (initial and maintenance costs and life-cycle
costing) in the evaluation of the alternatives when selecting building
materials are not intended to be considered in the study. In the module
guide, the recommended types of the materials will be listed based on the
evaluation criteria mentioned on the objectives of this study. Then the
8

Introduction

owner or the architect has the choice to select one of the recommended
materials types based on project budget.
The module guide is not an expert system. It is predefined matching
of certain types of building materials with a set of criteria in the form of
questions and answers.

1.6 Significance of the Study


It is well known that improper selection of building materials results
in quick deterioration of the building architecture and structural
components. This requires from the owner to spend a lot of money for the
rehabilitation of the building. Rehabilitation cost includes not only the cost
of the materials itself but also, the costs for removing the old materials and
installing the new ones. This will not only affect the occupants, but will
also contribute highly in recessing the national economy.

Another problem, for example, is the negative effect of deteriorated


finishing materials in the faade of the buildings on the cityscape. These
factors put great demand for good selection and efficient use of building
materials. Designing a module for proper selection of building materials is
an approach for better and durable buildings. This module will help in the
success of the design professionals and in the success of the Saudis
construction industry in general.

1.7 Research Methodology


In order to achieve the objectives of this thesis and for easy
reference, the research was divided into nine chapters. Each chapter was
proposed to achieve one or two of the objectives. Table 1.1 identifies the
9

Introduction

chapters of the research with their tasks and tools. The flow of preparing
the research chapters and its relationship to each other is illustrated in
Figure 1.2.

Table 1.1 Research Structure


Chap.
One

Title

Task

Tools

Introduction

Description of the research

Two

Literature Review

Exploring previous
studies on the subject

Three

Selection Criteria

Four

Environmental and
Climatic Factors

Five

Preliminary
Evaluation of the
Materials Selection
Process & Methods

Six

Building Materials

Seven The Module Guide

and

related Library &


Internet
search
Defining the selections criteria:
9 Mechanical properties
Books
9 Thermal properties
Review
9 Chemical properties
9 Electrical properties
Gathering
information
from data
Studying the maritime desert climate center of
of the Eastern Region of Saudi
Saudi
Arabia and determining its effect on Meteorologic
materials.
al &
Protection
Association
in Jeddah
Analysis of the questionnaire

Statistics

Comprehensive study of the selected


building materials:
9 Paint
9 Thermal insulation materials
9 Stone

Review of
reference
books,
standards and
scientific
periodicals
Computer
data base and
programming
software
Web Site
design
software

Developing PC module for selecting


appropriate types of the selected
building materials.

Eight

Design a virtual web site on the


Al-Mabna.com: Web
internet to accommodate the module
Site Model
and to provide other useful services.

Nine

Conclusion

Summary & recommendations


10

Introduction

Figure 1.2 The flow of preparing the research chapters and its relationship to
each other

11