During the past ten or fifteen years many new materials and better uses of old ones have been brought to the attention of the public. Through research and experimentation hundreds of new materials have been put on the markets - many of which have added to both the comfort and the attractiveness of homes. The prospective home builder often is at a loss to know which materials will be the most economical over a period of years and which will be the best suited to his needs. Ernest P. Goodrich, of the Research Institute for Economic Housing, discusses in the following paragraphs from "The House of the Future," American Builder and Building Age (formerly Building Age), September, 1930, the opportunities provided by the use of some of the new building materials:
New materials, easily erected, open opportunities which are just becoming known. Manufacturers have begun to realize the importance of research and development, and within a few years they have produced a wide variety of materials which are certain to play a prominent part in the house of the future.
Mentioning just a few of these will give some hint of what we are to expect. Some of them have not been completely worked out as yet, but definite steps are being taken to have them available for marketing as soon as possible.
1. Cement blocks of normal concrete.
2. Light weight blocks produced from aerated concrete and light weight aggregates - "puffed rice" made of clay is one such material.
3. Large factory built sections, such as concrete lumber, T-stone units, large gypsum units.
4. Steel frames with cork slab panels.
5. Compressed straw, reeds, rushes, and vegetable fibers made into large units to be stuccoed on one side and plastered on the other.
7. Glass floors and walls, either transparent or opaque, of the non-shatterable variety.
8. Glazed, aerated, large area, reinforced clay slabs.
10. Large units of brick, in any size or shape.
As to the design of the future house, it seems likely that sufficient variations in mass, pattern, color, texture, and shade will be obtainable from these materials to permit just as much architectural beauty as is possible in the present type house. The commercial buildings of the country are certainly creditable from an architectural standpoint, and many of the features which I have mentioned are being included in them.
Roger B. Whitman has discussed in his article "Ten Years of New Ideas"1 the most important of the new materials and changes which the last decade has brought about. He states:
Changes that affect the structural parts of a house are in the introduction of new materials as well as in improvements in the old. Lumber is one example. This was formerly produced with no exactness in size or in uniform standards of quality; sizes are now precise, qualities are in established grades, seasoning is definite, and each piece is marked for these characteristics and for identification. While an architect will have his opinion, it will be for the owner and his family to decide whether the floors will have the resilience that comes with wood construction throughout, or are to be of less resilient steel and concrete, using steel beams of a lightness appropriate to residence construction and covered with a reinforced concrete slab, the finish flooring being the same in both cases.
1 House Beautiful, September, 1930. (Reprinted by permission from the House Beautiful magazine.)
There must also be a decision as to whether the casements are to be of wood or metal, and if the latter, whether of steel or of bronze. Even the window glass will be up for discussion, for in addition to the glass that has been standard for a generation or two, plate glass must be thought of for its brilliancy and lack of distortion, along with the special types of glass that permit the passage of ultraviolet rays.....
Wood lath is no longer the only base for plaster; but if in place of it the owner decides to use metal lath, he must be specific as to the kind and the weight, for some is plain, some is stiffened with ribs that act as furring strips, and some is combined with a heavy paper backing. There is also the possibility of plastering on stiff sheets of fiberboard or on corkboard; materials that in addition to being substitutes for lath serve the purpose of insulation.