Terracotta is used in many ways for giving a feature to a building. It is believed that this material got discovered about 1400B.C. All through this time, it was in use for building structures, as it was found to have helpful properties. The literal meaning of terra cotta in Latin is cooked earth. It is very easily identifiable due to its porous exterior in reddish brown color that gives it an earthy feel. It is made from earth that is molded in varying shapes and sizes, then dried in kilns to harden its surface. Though most often we see it being used for making flower pots and dishes, it is also used for making roofs and earthen utensils. The characteristics that make terra cotta an useful material are the following:
Absorption of heat
Terracotta is able to absorb the heat produced by the sun and fire, making it an efficient material for use on exteriors of homes. It is especially helpful to use this material in homes located in areas having a very hot climate. Bricks made from this material are used for roofing with shingles. Terra cotta used for such applications helps keeping the interiors of houses cool, thus reducing the expense of cooling.
Apart from being used as a building material, terra cotta is also used for making various containers that are used in the kitchen. Earthen containers are used for storing bread and other eatables to keep them cool and dry. Terracotta containers keep the food items like flour, bread and sugar unspoiled, as moisture can’t enter these containers. Moreover the temperature within the containers remains almost constant. Being a porous material, it allows moisture to escape from the containers.
Terracotta is helpful in areas that experience cold, as it is not a good a conductor of heat or cold. Homes with roofing and bricks made from this material are able to retain the internal heat and keep the cold air out when winters arrive. Though it is not frequently used in areas with colder climates, it still helps to use terracotta in such regions of the US. Heating bills in colder areas are quite high during the winter months, and the use of terra cotta helps keeping them low.
Terracotta not only insulates against temperature, but also for sound. Hollow panels made from terra cotta are especially helpful for insulating sound. This is due to the thickness of terra cotta and the region formed by the panels that absorb the noise from both the sides of panels. This application helps creating a calm atmosphere in homes. This characteristic of terra cotta can prove to be of great help for houses located near train tracks, bus highways and airports.