How To Handle and Store Construction Materials
Builders and contractors in the construction industry regularly handle and store a wide variety of construction materials. Some of these items may be toxic or emit flammable gasses that can cause injuries or death if not handled correctly. Others may be damaged when in direct contact with certain weather elements or other environmental conditions.
Handling and storing construction materials safely is critical to avoid accidents, injuries, and damage. This article breaks down how to store construction materials properly per their type and the projects they will be used for.
Let’s dive in!
How To Organize and Store Different Types of Construction Materials
Bricks are highly durable, so storing them is quite easy. Just make sure to avoid prolonged and continuous water exposure. Additionally, prevent accidents that may cause cracks or breakage.
Outdoor storage of bricks requires keeping them off the ground or laying a waterproof tarp beneath them to prevent pooling rainwater and moisture from damaging them.
Covering bricks or keeping them in a storage unit also provides much-needed protection against the elements.
Most tiles like soapstone, porcelain, slate, and quarry tiles are non-porous, which minimizes potential damage from exposure to moisture. Meanwhile, concrete, granite, sandstone, and Spanish tiles are porous, so seal them before storing them to prevent water damage. Nonetheless, it’s best to store all types of tiles in a cool and dry area to avoid cracks due to extreme changes in temperature.
Also, limit the pile of tiles to four layers to avoid putting pressure on the ones placed on the bottom. You can also store tiles vertically instead of horizontally to ensure they lie beside each other and don’t crack due to excessive weight.
Storing and working with lumber can be challenging as it is porous and absorbs moisture quickly. Some portions of wood may even soak in more moisture than others, causing the structure to warp or become misshapen. Keeping lumber in a dry area is crucial to avoid water damage.
You can store lumber horizontally and keep it off the ground for improved airflow. Placing seasoned wood over cinder blocks set up a few feet away from each other is a simple and effective way to do this. The cinder blocks create a stable support that minimizes the lumber’s warping and maintains it in a usable state.
You can also place stickers or thin wooden strips between the layers of lumber for better ventilation. Alternatively, you can use PVC pipe stickers for this purpose.
Protect the lumber from external elements by covering it with a waterproof tarp. Place a few bricks over the tarp to level the pressure on the lumber. It will disperse the moisture that gets through and reduce the chances of warping.
If you are short on space, you can store lumber vertically indoors on a raised platform. It will prevent water from seeping in from the floor and damaging the lumber. Also, support the upper and lower parts of the wood with vertical storage racks to prevent it from bowing.
Asphalt roof shingles are designed to combat the harshest of climates and weather conditions. But if you plan to store them for extended periods, the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) recommends keeping them in a cool and dry location.
These materials can contort if they are piled too high and exposed to temperatures higher than 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, temperatures lower than 40 degrees Fahrenheit can reduce their flexibility and cause them to crack.
Store shingles in a climate-controlled environment so they will last as long as possible—for your next project and beyond.
Keeping cement dry and avoiding water exposure is critical as it may set otherwise. Do not store cement outdoors, even if you plan to cover it with a waterproof tarp. Store it in a dry indoor location and ensure it has enough ventilation.
Place the cement bags a few feet away from any other surface, including walls, ceilings, and floors. This will minimize potential contact with any lingering moisture in the environment. Also, cover the bags with tarps to prevent damage due to water leaking from the roof.
Paint and Primer
Paint and primer leftovers can last for a long time if you keep them away from heat and air. Store them in a cool area at 50 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure the storage area is not too cold or freezing, or the leftovers will solidify.
Keeping these materials in small containers reduces air circulation and prevents them from hardening. If you’re keeping them in their original containers, don’t hammer down the lid, as it may indent the can and allow air to seep in.
Cover the rim with plastic wrap before closing the lid to keep air out. If humidity causes the lid to rust over time, the plastic wrap prevents rust from getting into the paint.
Glue dries out with prolonged exposure to heat and air. After every use, close the lid tightly. Glue also freezes in cold temperatures, so keep it in small bottles in a cool but not cold area.
Glue can usually withstand up to five freezing and thawing cycles. After each cycle, it turns into a gel that becomes difficult to break up.
Store it in the refrigerator to keep it cool without solidifying.
Best Practices for Storing Construction Materials
How do you create an efficient system for storing, stacking, and handling construction materials? Here are some best practices for a safe and methodical inventory system:
1. Train Your Staff
Handling and storing construction materials involves many risks and dangers. Many of these tools have sharp edges or other elements that may cause injuries if not handled correctly. Training your employees in material handling and storage practices minimizes risks and keeps your workers and materials safe.
Enroll your construction site workers in safety training programs for in-depth lessons on the proper handling and storing of construction materials. Employee training should be a continuous process, as all newly recruited workers must be up to speed before they start working. Training for long-term employees refreshes their knowledge and helps them learn the latest best practices in the industry.
2. Keep Similar Items Together
Certain materials and chemicals on construction sites may react with each other when they are in close contact. It poses risks to workers and the materials themselves. Any damage may lead to business losses.
Keep construction materials and chemicals in different locations to avoid inadvertent reactions. Also, store similar materials near each other to avoid health and safety risks. Create an organizational system so you can find all tools and materials easily and save money that you would otherwise spend on buying replacement supplies.
Using robust construction inventory management software eases this process further and helps you efficiently track, record, and organize stock.
3. Select Appropriate Storage Space
Environmental elements affect the quality of construction materials. To keep them in top condition, cover them properly and store them at room temperature. Place them off the ground to prevent moisture absorption. Don’t put them on uneven surfaces, as fragile materials may break easily.
4. Know Every Material’s Storage Weight Limits
Construction materials have storage weight limits that you will typically find on their packaging. Not conforming may cause them to fall, break, and endanger your workers. Adhere to these limits to avoid accidents at your construction site and keep workers and materials safe.
5. Store Exterior-Rated Materials Properly
How do you store building materials outside without risk of damage? You can safely store exterior-grade construction materials outdoors, but make sure to cover them well. Most exterior-rated supplies can withstand some moisture exposure but not getting drenched.
Put plastic sheets on the ground and then place items on top. Cover them with a tarp to avoid further exposure to the elements.
6. Store Ladders Upright
Store ladders vertically using stack shelves or ladder racks to save space at your site. You can use multiple racks or shelves for multiple ladders and arrange them as per their size and type. A proper arrangement will help you find and extract ladders easily and save time.
7. Don’t Stack Barrels, Drums, or Kegs
Avoid storing barrels, kegs, or drums on top of each other, as the piles may become unstable, fall, and suffer damage. Use wooden boards or pallets between to keep them steady and ensure the safety of the site and all passersby at all times.
8. Make Your Storage System Earthquake-Safe
Protect your materials against earthquakes. Bolting racks to warehouse floors helps you secure boxes and pallets on the racks. You can secure racks further using horizontal braces. You can also place row spacers between racks for increased stability and safety.
Also, install removable vertical bars to prevent lumber and other materials on shelves from moving and falling into aisles in the event of an earthquake. Shrink-wrapping boxes on pallets also helps them stay intact and remain on shelves.
9. Ensure Proper Disposal of Construction Material Wastes
Dispose of waste construction materials regularly and correctly to keep them from accumulating on your site and avoid a messy workplace. It also ensures smooth operations and minimizes the risks of accidents and injuries to workers.
10. Secure Your Construction Site
Keep your construction site and warehouse secure and guard them against intruders to prevent theft and loss of your costly materials. Consider security measures like CCTV cameras to keep an eye on your construction supplies.
You can also ban workers from entering storage locations outside of working hours to ensure the site and your materials’ continued safety.
Safe and effective handling and storage of construction materials help builders and contractors avoid wasted time and money. It ensures a timely supply of materials when needed without having to buy new items due to breakage or damage. This helps businesses enjoy better profitability and stay successful in the long run.
Nest Egg helps you incorporate a digital inventory system and efficiently track your construction stock. Our next-generation stock management software for small and large inventories is simple, scalable, flexible, intuitive, and quick. It helps you save time and manage your inventory planning and logistics hassle-free.
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