There’s a lot to take into account when choosing materials for your house renovations. Of course you want the aesthetic to suit your style, taste and the design of the rest of the home. Additionally, you want long lasting and durable materials (hello, natural stone!). An important consideration to take into account is the climate. Home materials can make a huge impact on the comfort and practicality of your home.
Before embarking on a home renovations project, it’s important to understand how different materials and house modifications will affect your ability to keep a home insulated and heated in cold climates and cool in warmer climates. The right materials should complement the climate you’re living in and add to your level of comfort. How do you choose the right materials for the Australian climate?
Let start off with a brief summary of what the Australian climate is.
We’re a pretty big country as it turns out and so there are actually a number of different climates. Northern parts of the country are more tropical in climate with hot and humid summers followed by warm yet dry winters. Southern areas tend to see hot and dry summers with rainier winters.
The general climate zones can be summarised in the following categorisations:
– Hot humid summer with a warm winter
– Warm humid summer with a mild winter
– Hot dry summer with a warm winter
– Hot dry summer with a cool winter
External walls in particular, as well as the roofing, make the largest impacts on a home when it comes to climate suitability.
Commonly used materials for increased insulation include roofing tiles, Colorbond sheets, bricks, weatherboards, and polystyrene foam and more. These materials are widely used across Australia to offer both insulation in colder winters without creating a hot box during the summer.
Of course, depending on the specific climate your home is in, the ideal material or combination of materials will fluctuate.
As a general rule darker colours absorb heat and lighter colours reflect it. This is why dark rooftops are not ideal for particularly warm climates, like much of Australia. Light coloured materials, such as bricks or natural stone, are strong choices for warmer climates that don’t experience anything beyond a mild winter.
Glass, of course, is a key component in all homes, but the clear float glass that is commonly used in windows does not offer much insulation for colder climates. While extensive glass panelling might look lovely, make sure to take into consideration how cold it can get in the winter. There are ways of improving the insulation of glass windows including thick curtains, replacing generic glass with higher insulating types, and double glazing. When renovating on a budget, you may want to make your glass-related decision based on the costs required in ensuring further insulation.
Of course, on the flip side large windows can also heat up a house quickly in the summer by allowing the sunlight to filter in unobstructed. Again, if you’re dying to use large amounts of glass, glazing and blinds are always good starting points to mitigate excess heat from sunlight.
Moisture and heat damage
Understandably, a lot of focus is given to how hot or cold you’ll be inside your home based on the materials used. There are some other climate-related factors to consider as well: how much damage will the heat and humidity (moisture) cause to your home? The best materials for building or renovating a home will protect against moisture damage and heat damage and mitigate the long term costs to you.
Some material-related ideas to help combat this include:
- Stainless steel/aluminium fasteners to reduce rust
- Permeable indoor wall coverings to let moisture escape
- Vapor barriers under the house
- Elevated foundations
Much of Australia is beset by rather hot summers which makes having the right insulation materials absolutely vital. Ideal insulation materials include:
- Cellular glass
- Plastic foam
- Mineral wool
Using natural stone
Natural stone is a commonly used material in home design and construction throughout Australia. Of course, much of this has to do with its luxury aesthetic, long term durability and application versatility. Yet thanks to the high energy density of natural stones they also offer great thermal conductivity. Natural stone can come in a variety of colours so choosing the right shade for your specific climate is easy.
Limestone remains nice and cool no matter how hot the temperature is and its light colour allows less heat absorption and more heat refraction. It’s a wonderful material for pool areas or outdoor renovations.
Like limestone, travertine retains its coolness and while it does come in darker and more complex shadings/patterns than limestone it offers the same environmental benefits.
Granite, surprisingly, can be very cool and is used commonly throughout Australia. Of course, the darker the granite the more heat it will absorb.
Marble is a unique natural stone but its light shading and subtle veining allows it to both refract sunlight to keep your home bright without absorbing and retaining too much heat during the summer months.
Quartzite comes in a wide variety of colours so finding the perfect shade for your climate isn’t hard at all. If you’re in a particularly hot climate, it will definitely be worth investing in a lighter colour of quartzite than one of the darker shades.
Talk to an expert
Australia is the lucky country for many reasons and our sunny, lovely climate is just one of them. Yet, it can still get rather hot, rainy, or cold, so making sure you know how to choose the right materials for the Australian climate before designing, building or renovating your home is very, very important.
Always talk to an architect, designer or construction expert so that you can find the best material for you without sacrificing your visual preferences or aesthetic style.
When it comes to marble, granite and any other natural stone, make sure to consult the Euro Marble team. We don’t just know which stones look prettiest, we’ll be able to advise on which will function best for you too.