Various modular home building materials laid out next to each other

Modular homes are quickly becoming the most popular way to build a house. They’re affordable and durable, and the generous warranties are tempting. Plus, many of them use eco-friendly materials. So, why would you want anything else?

This article will look at the materials commonly used in prefab homes. Then, we’ll give you all the pros and cons and discuss where each comes in in terms of cost.

So, let’s get into it!

What Materials are Common in Modular Homes?

The materials most common in modular homes are concrete, wood, metal, and glass for the exterior and interior walls. However, there are many different ways to use these materials for making prefab homes. In addition, each type of material has its own set of benefits and drawbacks.

Concrete or Cement

Concrete is a mixture of water, sand, gravel, and cement poured in place and left to harden. The most common application for this material is for the foundation and floors, but you can also use it to make external walls.

Cement consists of limestone and clay mixed with water to create a paste. This paste is a binding agent in concrete mixtures and brickwork.

Pros

  • Concrete and cement are very low-maintenance – you don’t have to worry about painting or staining it, and it’s not susceptible to rot or pests.
  • Concrete and cement are very durable – these materials can withstand high winds, heavy rains, and even earthquakes. 
  • Concrete and cement are also rot-resistant – you don’t have to worry about it deteriorating over time or attracting pests.
  • Cement and concrete are fire-resistant – if your home catches fire, there’s a good chance the concrete walls will help contain the blaze.

Cons

  • Can be tough to repair after cracking – once the surface breaks, it will continue to crack and crumble.
  • Concrete absorbs heat – if you live in a hot climate, your home will be challenging to keep cool.
  • Concrete and cement absorb moisture – these materials are like synthetic stone, and they can be quite damp depending on your area’s humidity and how you seal them. 
  • Prone to leaking issues – you have to be careful when using concrete or cement blocks for the exterior walls of your modular home. If you do not seal the blocks correctly, water can seep in and cause problems.
A traditionally-poured concrete foundation at a construction site

Overall, concrete and cement are good choices for your modular home’s foundation, floors, and exterior walls. However, you should be aware of the potential drawbacks before making your final decision.

Wood

Wood is a natural material that’s been a staple in construction for centuries. It’s used in everything from log cabins to multi-story houses. Most modular homes use the same strategy, complete with siding and drywall.

Pros

  • Wood is a solid material – it can withstand high winds, heavy rains, and even earthquakes. 
  • Fire-resistance – construction-grade lumber is not as flammable as you thought. It usually contains flame-retardants to keep you safe. 
  • Wood is a renewable resource. – trees can be replanted and harvested again. So, you don’t have to feel guilty about using wood in your modular home.
  • Straightforward to work with – you can cut, shape, and nail it into place. Plus, it’s easy to repair if it cracks or breaks.
  • An excellent insulator – so, if you live in a cold climate, your home will be easy to warm.

Cons

  • Susceptible to rot and pests – water can seep in if you do not seal it correctly, causing structural problems.
  • Not as durable as other materials – it can break under high winds, heavy rains, and even earthquakes.
  • Termites like to eat it – if you live in an area with many termites, you may also want to avoid using wood. Termites can quickly eat away at the wood, causing severe damage to your structure.

Overall, wood is a popular choice for modular homes, and manufacturers go beyond framing with this material. It is also common for cabinets, flooring, trim, and furniture. While there are some drawbacks to using wood, the benefits often outweigh them.

Metal

Metal is a common material used in modular homes. It is strong and can last for many years. However, metal homes are more industrial-looking, an aesthetic that may not be for everyone. 

Pros

  • Metal homes are fireproof – if you live in an area with many wildfires, this could be a deciding factor.
  • Metal structures can withstand high winds better than other types – their durability makes them ideal for places prone to hurricanes or other natural disasters.
  • It deters pests – you will also never have a termite problem with a metal home.
  • You save on labor costs – these structures are easier to assemble than other materials, and you can use metal for large buildings.

Cons

  • Metal homes can get very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter – if you live in a climate with extreme temperatures, this could be a dealbreaker.
  • They’re susceptible to noise pollution – if you live near a highway or an airport, you might consider another material for your home since metal can rattle and amplify sounds.
  • Not as energy-efficient as other materials – since metal isn’t an excellent insulator, your heating and cooling costs will be higher.

Glass

Glass is not a common choice for modular homes, but it is an option. These homes are most common in warmer climates, but the recent upgrade in the thermal capability of windows allows you to set up a glass house almost anywhere.

Pros

  • Glass homes can be very energy-efficient – they keep the heat out in the summer and the warmth in during the winter, helping you lower your heating and cooling costs.
  • They’re strong – a high-quality glass is less likely to break during a natural disaster when compared to other materials. However, you have to dig deep to get the good stuff.
A couple stands in the front yard in front of their glass modular home

Cons

  • High-quality glass can be costly – if you’re on a tight budget, this might not be the optimal material for you.
  • Glass homes can be very noisy – if you live in a busy area, glass can amplify the noise from traffic and other houses.

Vinyl

Vinyl is a common choice for modular homes. It’s strong and easy to work with. However, it’s not as energy-efficient as other materials.

Pros

  • Vinyl is straightforward to maintain – you won’t have to paint or stain the exterior of your home. Also, if a piece of vinyl is damaged, it’s easy to replace.
  • Vinyl siding is strong – it can withstand high winds and other severe weather conditions.
  • Aesthetically pleasing – you can find vinyl homes in various styles to match your taste.

Cons

  • Not as energy-efficient as other materials – meaning your heating and cooling costs will be higher.
  • Can fade over time – if you live in a warm climate, the vinyl siding on your home may fade and discolor.
  • Less durable than other prefab home materials – vinyl is still plastic, and although it’s flexible and can withstand pressure, it may crack over time, forcing you to replace it. 

Brick

Brick is another material that is common in modular homes. It’s most popular in warmer climates, but you can also use it to make fireplaces and foundations.

Pros

  • A very durable material – it can withstand high winds, heavy rains, and even earthquakes. 
  • It’s also fireproof and termite-resistant – you won’t have to worry about fires or pests in your home.
Red clay bricks are used to construct a wall

Cons

  • Brick construction is cumbersome – it is heavy, making brick modular homes more challenging to transport and set up.
  • One of the more expensive modular home materials – because brick is heavy and hard to transport, it can be more expensive than similar materials like concrete and cement. 

Which Building Materials Are Used for High-End Modular Homes?

The building materials used for high-end modular homes are metal, glass, and concrete. These materials are more expensive than others, but they offer many benefits.

Metal homes (think copper siding) are fireproof and can withstand high winds, glass homes are energy-efficient and solid, and concrete construction is durable and weather-resistant.

If you’re looking for a modular home that is luxurious and custom, you should consider one made with any of these materials. 

However, glass is a favorite for most high-end homes. It adds a contemporary style to the structure and gives the illusion of more space, making it feel modern.

Which Building Materials Are Used for Mid-Range Modular Homes?

Builders use various materials for mid-range modular homes, including wood, metal, and brick. However, modular homes that consist of wood and metal are the most popular mid-range prefab homes on the market. 

Wood is the most common material used in midrange homes because it’s affordable and can be easily customized. Metal (tin) is also a popular choice for mid-range homes because it is solid and fireproof. Brick is less common, but we’ve seen it used as cladding on modular homes.

If you’re looking for a mid-range modular home, you should consider one made with wood. This material is affordable and offers a variety of benefits.

Conclusion

There is no perfect material for all modular homes. It depends on your climate, budget, and preferences.

Wood, metal, glass, and brick are all common materials used in modular homes. However, you want to consider the pros and cons of each before making a decision.

Sources

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