I am planning to build a house in Caguas, Puerto Rico. Due to the high humidity levels, I don't know what types of materials to use.

Asked by Jack
Surprise, AZ

High humidity destroys clothes in the closets unless there is central A/C. I'm afraid to build with wood, as termites can destroy the house. The house will be built high up in the mountains.


Jason Kliwinski

Answered by Jason Kliwinski

Lambertville, NJ

The Green Living and Building Center

November 19, 2010

There are a lot of possibilities. Starting with the main structure of the house,

  • Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs) are a durable, sustainable option that are resistant to moisture and humidity.
  • Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) are also a good option for a super-insulated building shell that is quick to assemble and durable.

For exterior finishes, fiber cement siding, brick, metal panels, or rain screen systems are all viable options, as well as some appropriate sustainably harvested wood siding.

For roofs, a green roof, metal roof, or terra cotta roof are probably the best choices in my opinion.

For interior finishes, the adhesives and type of products selected will make a big difference.

  • Cork, linoleum flooring, and wood flooring can all be very susceptible to humidity if not installed properly. Ceramic, porcelain, or stone tile are all good choices, and you can get many with high recycled content.
  • If you want wood, I suggest an engineered system.
  • Interior finishes such as countertops, wallboard, paint, etc., are a further topic of discussion once you have made some of these base decisions.


For more information:

Read Mark Schrieber's Q&A "We’re building a prefab home in Puerto Rico. How can we keep it cool without central AC?"

Also, read Polly Osborne's Q&A "I am going to be building a container home in Puerto Rico and am looking for a construction company that is proficient with this process."

Tagged In: durability

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