Production of building and finishing materials is a highly relevant sector of the present-day Russian economy because of the recent boost to residential development and construction of offices, storage facilities, roads, etc., provoke a high demand for such products. As a result Russian production of building and finishing materials is growing steadily..
In 2012, the most significant output growth was reported in the production of non-metallic materials such as gravel, crushed aggregate and sand, which was up nearly 17% as regard to the year 2011 or 412.5 million m3. The growth of the production of thermal insulation materials made from fibreglass and mineral fibre materials makes 10.4%. The production of the concrete increased to 9.6%. The cement sector saw almost the same progress with 9.5%.
This industry is generally on an upswing remaining very attractive in terms of investment because the production potential is yet not mainly fulfilled.
There was no such thing as a market of building and finishing materials in Russia for a long time. Timber, often not even thoroughly surfaced, was practically the only material used in construction. Few building and finishing materials like mineral paints or fastening parts were homemade. The demand for such materials as bricks, glass, sand, gravel, and paint grew in the XVIII century as economy was blooming and wealthy people were adopting the European lifestyle. The materials were partly imported and partly produced by Russian first manufactories and industrial enterprises.
The production of building and finishing materials was only taken to a new level as an industry in the middle of the XIX century, when the stone construction became dominant. Brick factories mushroomed up numerously all over the European part of the Russian Empire. The first cement factory was opened in 1839 in St. Petersburg. By 1913, the cement output across the country reached 1.78 million tonnes. Ceramic tiles, glass, metal ware, concrete, quarry sand, gravel, clay and other materials were produced. This industry in Russia was quite comparable scale-wise with those outside the country being just a little behind the world’s leading economies.
A huge boost of the production of building and finishing materials was natural in the first years of Soviet Russia because the country needed a recovery after World War I and then the civil war when a vast number of buildings needed to be rebuilt or renovated. Then, in the second half of the 1920s, when industrial construction was developing even in all regions of the country, the demand for building and finishing materials increased manifold. Industrial giants, such as Donbas, Magnitogorsk Industrial Complex, Komsomolsk-on-Amur and many others, required immense amounts of material.
New cement plants were built (Podgorensky, Katavsky, Kuvasaisky among them), that made it possible to increase the cement output up to 5.77 million tonnes by 1940. The production of other building materials, such as bricks, concrete, construction bitumen, glass, etc. was increasing proportionally. The industry suffered heavy losses in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 when a great part of facilities were left in the zones of occupation or military operations.
In the post-war period, when almost one third of the country had to be rebuilt, production of building and finishing materials was a top priority. The production rates skyrocketed even in comparison with pre-war figures. New facilities, such as Pikalevo, Belgorod, Nikolayev, Chimkent, Ulyanovsk, Achinsk, Stary Oskol and Kamenets-Podolsky cement plants, were put into operation in the following decades. Large-scale production of precast concrete units, which were most popular in residential and industrial construction, was set up. In 1950, the Soviet Union manufactured 1.3 million m3 of precast concrete panels and blocks. In 1960, the output reached 30.2 million m3, 84.6 million in 1970, 122 million in 1980, and 151.0 million in 1985.