Intro to How-To Guide to Building with Straw Bales
Straw Bale Building DVD from the Straw Bale online store
Straw Bale Workshop Intro with Andrew Morrison
I am building a straw bale dog house with 2 rooms and an entrance chamber type thing. It is one I can walk in without having to go on all 4′s. [It is practice for a house, can you tell?] My question is also about paint. First, is there a good scrubbable paint I can use inside? I would like to be able to keep a little clean in there. Second, I plan to paint potted plants along the walls outside instead of trying to landscape it since one of the dogs “landscapes” already. Is it OK to use just any old paint for that? I won’t be covering anywhere near the entire wall. How much of a wall can I cover with any old paint before I start getting into trouble?
The key with paint is to use the right kind and the right quality. You could try and find a threshold of when you cause problems to the house, but I don’t think that is a good idea. I would recommend using quality paint with a high vapor transfer rate. Radiant heat is fantastic and a great compliment to SB homes; however, it may be a bit much for the dog house!
The roof comes down to loads and design. You could do a shed roof (one sloped direction only) and use framing lumber large enough to handle the extra load of sunbathers. For example, if 2x8s 2 feet on center are required, you could use 2x10s instead. The idea is to strengthen the roof assembly so you don’t fall through or bow the roof into a sag. Good Luck and have fun.
Hello, My name is Frank and I recently purchased your DVD series. We are about to put a bale addition onto our 1790 farm house. I have been watching the DVD over and over and have a question about the construction technique. What joins the bales together? In other projects I see, the bales are pinned together using bamboo or re-bar. Does the wire take the place of the stakes? I saw in part of the video when a twine was passed through the wall and tied to a piece of bamboo, however, I thought that was for earthquake zones. Can you clarify? The county we live in here in Maryland does not have any bale houses and I want my project to sail through the inspectors.
Frank, You are right on the money when you ask if the welded wire mesh replaces the pinning. The fact is that the mesh does a much better job of attaching the bales to the frame and to each other than the pins did. Consider that the mesh is heavily stapled off to the framing and then is tied to the mesh on the other side of the wall (this is the section with the small pieces of bamboo. You could use twine stretched over several inches without bamboo). The mesh completely encapsulates the bales and attaches them to the frame. Good luck.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andrew has a passion for straw bale construction that is matched only by his desire to teach his knowledge to others. He has a wealth of experience in designing and building both conventional and straw bale homes. After years of building, he has moved his practice entirely to consulting and teaching. He shares his knowledge with thousands of people via his DVD series and this website and teaches roughly six hands on workshops each year. For more on his workshops, please visit www.StrawBaleworkshops.com.
Here are 7 great reasons why you should consider building your next house with Straw Bales:
Reason #1 Energy Efficiency.
A well built straw bale home can save you up to 75% on heating and cooling costs. In fact, in most climates, we do not even install air conditioning units into our homes as the natural cooling cycles of the planet are enough to keep the house cool all summer long.
Reason #2 Sound Proofing.
Straw bale walls provide excellent sound insulation and are superior wall systems for home owners looking to block out the sounds of traffic or airplanes in urban environments.
Reason # 3 Fire resistance.
Straw bale homes have roughly three times the fire resistance of conventional homes. Dense bales mean limited oxygen which in turn means no flames.
Reason # 4 Environmental responsibility.
Building with straw helps the planet in many ways. For example, straw is a waste product that is either burned or composted in standing water. By using the straw instead of eliminating it, we reduce either air pollution or water consumption, both of which impact the environment in general.
Reason #5 Natural Materials
The use of straw as insulation means that the standard insulation materials are removed from the home. Standard fiberglass insulation has formaldehyde in it, a known carcinogen. Bale walls also eliminate the use of plywood in the walls. Plywood contains unhealthy glues that can off-gas into the house over time.
Reason #6 Aesthetics
There is nothing as calming and beautiful as a straw bale wall in a home. Time and time again I walk people through homes and they are immediately struck by the beauty and the “feeling” of the walls. I really can’t explain this one, you’ll just have to walk through your own to see what I mean.
Reason #7 Minimize wood consumption.
If built as a load bearing assembly, the wood in the walls can be completely eliminated, except for around the windows. The harvesting of forests is a global concern and any reduction in the use of wood material is a good thing for the long term health of the planet.
Even infill bale homes can reduce the use of wood by using engineered lumber for the posts and beams. The engineered material uses smaller, faster growing trees in place of larger, slower growing species.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andrew Morrison has a passion for straw bale construction that is matched only by his desire to teach his knowledge to others. He has a wealth of experience in designing and building both conventional and straw bale homes. After years of building, he has moved his practice entirely to consulting and teaching. He shares his knowledge with thousands of people via his DVD series and this website and teaches roughly six hands on workshops each year. For more on his workshops, please visit www.StrawBaleworkshops.com. Andrew received a BA degree from Hampshire College in 1995 for Glacial Geology. He also has a degree in construction technology.
Introduction to Straw Bale Building
“Would you like to learn how to build your next home, cabin, guest cottage, or even a dog house, using Straw Bale building techniques, I highly recommend the Straw Bale Store, a website hosted by experts in strawbale construction and design. They reveal the tips, tricks and techniques that can save you time and money before and during your building project. It is a great resource. I plan on building my new well house using the straw bale building techniques. I'll be keeping you posted on my progress."
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