February 18, 2021

The Construction Materials Used in Modular Buildings - What to Know

Modular buildings have become increasingly popular due to the convenience and efficiency they offer in the construction process. In modular construction, building components are made off-site in highly-controlled conditions to ensure specifications are followed to the last detail. These buildings adhere to the same standards and codes as conventionally-built facilities with the advantage of being completed in much shorter time.

Since modular buildings are composed of separate components stacked together, high-quality materials are required to ensure that construction regulations are met. The most commonly used structural materials for custom modular buildings are concrete and wood, among others.

Here are some of the advantages of the different construction materials used in creating modular structures.


Wood may seem weak compared to the strength of harder materials like concrete and steel, but it is one of the most versatile and durable materials used in construction. Its strength comes from storing carbon, which remains in the material and comprises 50% of its weight even after it has been harvested.

Wood is also environmentally friendly. By removing carbon from the atmosphere, wood reduces the number of excess emissions that add to the adverse effects of climate change. Wood can also be recycled after the life of the building has ended, making it a more sustainable resource for new modular building construction projects.

Modular buildings will typically incorporate wood in structures such as roof trusses, wall framing, laminated beams, plywood, composite panels, and more.


Concrete is great for parkades and foundations for wood built modular apartment buildings, hotels and senior residences to name a few.

Some modular building designs are made with high-strength precast concrete masonry units (CMU) for walls, while structural steel and precast concrete make up the floor. Roofing is built from lightweight precast concrete panels, concrete tiles, metal panels, or traditional shingles.

Modular concrete building designs are versatile and come in a variety of colours and textures. You can use anything from stone and brick to split-face block and horizontal lap siding. They’re conveniently delivered ready-to-use on-site as they are prefabricated with all the design and structural elements, including electrical wiring and plumbing.

The construction of modular concrete buildings can also be accomplished using poured-in-place reinforced concrete foundations. This provides the building with additional structural stability and integrity as it’s permanently anchored to a foundation with footing designed for seismic and wind loads. Design-focused precast concrete is ideal for all types of buildings in different areas, especially those prone to hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes, whether used as the main building material or a partial structural component.

There are several uses for concrete in modular buildings, including the following:

Poured Concrete

This is ideal for setting a solid, non-combustible floor for structures like imaging suites.

Fibre Cement Siding

Cement can be made in different finishes for sidings, such as vertical, lap, or stucco.

Cement Board

Cement boards can also be used as backers to ceramic tiles or flooring underlayment.

Poured Gypcrete (On-Site)

This can be used for many purposes, including floor underlayment for sound reduction, floor levelling, radiant heating, and fire resistance.


Whether you decide on concrete or wood for your modular construction project depends on your custom building requirements. If you’re looking for a more classic-looking and sustainable option with excellent insulation capabilities, then wood can provide your building with these benefits in addition to standard-strength durability. The beauty of custom modular construction is the flexibility that you have in designing each part of the building, from the material you choose down to the fixtures and accessories in each unit.

An award-winning modular building manufacturer, Northgate Industries offer quality new, used and custom units. From design to installation, we produce modular structures at lower costs than traditional construction solutions. Contact us for a quote today!

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