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Passive Solar Straw Bale Home New Mexico

Solar Power in Straw Bale Homes

Many of my clients will, as we start the process of designing their straw bale homes, happily say to me, “I want to incorporate solar power into my blueprints.” Alternative sources of power is a very attractive option and I recommend it highly. Unfortunately, it does have its own complications and challenges. Let me give you some of my thoughts on this:

Passive Solar -2

Example of passive solar

Active Solar Power 3

Example of solar water heating system

Solar power comes in several different ways.

First, there is ‘active’ solar gain, which uses panels to generate electricity and then transfers that electricity into the house in lieu of the house getting electricity from a conventional power grid. Secondly, there is also ‘passive’ solar gain, which utilizes South-facing windows that will convert sunshine to heat as the light passes through the glass and heats the inside of the house. And third, there is solar water heating, which pumps cold water out of the house and into a panel usually placed on the roof that heats the water then pumps the hot water back into the house. .

Active solar gain

Uses glass and other materials to generate electricity. Getting power from the sun, rather than from coal-fired, nuclear-powered or other environmentally-harmful sources, is something I hope is adopted by the entire world–and soon. Supplying electricity from the roof of your own home is a fabulous option, but it is an undeniably expensive one. The present generation of solar panels is at most 15% efficient which needs to be studied and improved upon, and though the price of the panels is currently falling it still can take many years’ worth of investment before that investment pays off and one has ‘free’ electricity. In the case of houses that are tied to the grid of a city’s power, a homeowner with active solar can pump unused electricity into their lines and possibly get a monthly reimbursement check; this makes paying for a solar system much more feasible. In off-grid situations, though, not only must one pay for the solar panels but also batteries to store the electricity–and that makes such a system even more expensive, not to mention the life of the batteries is considerably less than that of the panels.

Passive solar gain

or using glass and other materials to convert light into heat. For passive solar, I have more mixed feelings. On the one hand, there is nothing as comforting to me as sitting by a warm window in the winter and basking in the combination of light AND heat as it comes through the glass Passive Solar - 4. If the light-and-heat shines onto an adobe trombe wall or a thick adobe floor it can absorb that heat and radiate it back to the house during cold winter nights. In this way passive solar gain can spread warmth throughout the house. Passive Solar Straw Bale- 5That’s the good news. The bad news is that the glass of a window has practically no insulative value, so during the short winter’s day the window will indeed convert sun’s energy into warmth—but during the much longer winter’s night, that same window will leak a lot of heat back out of the house. There is also the complication that in many parts of the world, such as Albuquerque, where I live, one is trying to cool a house down more months of the year than one is trying to heat it up. So putting a whole series of South-facing windows in my climate may work well from, say, November to February…but during the remaining 8 months of the year the windows are pouring unwanted heat into the home. There are ways to lessen the windows’ infiltration of heat during the summer, and to minimize the windows’ nightly heat drain during the winter and in fact a whole industry to do just those things has been created. Insulated shades can be used. Increasing the roof’s overhang so in winter the sun’s rays enter the glass but in summer there is no direct sunshine on the glass, is common practice.  Creating a trellis for vines, or planting a tree just outside a window, will allow the leaves to naturally shade the windows during the summer and those leaves will fall off right about the time one wants the shade gone. Or making insulated panels that can be put up against the window whenever one doesn’t need the heat is always an option.

Active Solar Straw Bale - 6

Solar water heating

or using glass and other materials to heat water. This is usually accomplished by pumping cold water into a solar panel, letting the panel heat the water, then pumping it back down to an insulated tank that holds the hot water until needed for showers, sinks and washing machines. Other than the relatively-inexpensive installation costs of a couple pumps, a solar heater, some thermostats and some piping, I can’t think of any disadvantages to this method. Who wouldn’t want to have water that’s heated by the sun!

I am wildly enthusiastic about leaving behind old polluting ways of heating or cooling a house.

Use of solar power can change the world. But when planning your home, pay attention to the budget and to the efficiency of sun-collecting products!

What other alternative power methods are you interested in? What do you think about solar power as an alternative power source?

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Plastering a Straw Bale House

One of the things I love about my job is completing the straw bale installation of a house or a wall, and seeing the rich yellow color of the bales, the stucco netting tightened, the windows and doors fit into place.  The organic ‘feel’ of the uncovered structure makes me almost hate to plaster it.  But I know that once a straw bale house or wall has been constructed, I need to protect it from the elements (rain and snow), from the natural world (rodents, insects, molds) and from mechanical harm (a car backing into it or the vibrations from a door repeatedly slamming shut).  This has presented me with many years’ worth of experiments in how to do so. Straw Bale Home New Mexico

Here are some of the plasters I’ve used:

Adobe Plaster

Adobe Plaster New Mexico Straw Bale Construction

Applying Adobe Plaster New MexicoStraw Bale House plaster new mexico

Of all the options, adobe plaster, also known as earth plaster or mud plaster, is the one I like the most. It also happens to be the most problematic.  Adobe is a combination of sand, clay and aggregate mixed in certain proportions, though here in New Mexico most earth naturally has the right amounts of each ingredient.  Adobe is, of course, beautiful, plentiful and very cheap.  It’s deliciously sticky and easy to apply to the walls.  It has no harmful chemicals and one can literally use one’s hands to apply it to the bales. But it isn’t durable, and is much softer than cement-or-chemical-based products.  One can add those products (lime or asphalt emulsion or portland cement) to harden it, but finding the right proportions can be tricky—and unless one has gotten it ‘right’ one runs the risk of having the entire wall wash off during a summer thunderstorm, or having insects penetrating the bales through cracks in the adobe.  Also, it takes much longer to dry, so the whole process will take longer to apply than using other methods.

 

Conventional Stucco

This is a combination of portland cement, lime and plaster, mixed for several minutes then applied by hand or blown on with a stucco pump.  Stucco sticks well to the bales wrapped in stucco netting, it dries quickly, and is very strong, lasting up to a couple decades before re-stuccoing is needed.  But it is an expensive option.  Cement and lime are caustic, and can irritate or burn the skin and lungs.  They are produced using environmentally-questionable methods.  Cement stucco is rigid, which means that during the annual temperature swings it resists the normal expansion and contraction all materials go through, and therefore is prone to cracking.

Stucco Straw Bale Walls New Mexico

 

Synthetic Stucco

In the two-plus decades that I have been working with bales, there has been an explosion of next-generation products designed to avoid the stucco-cracking problem I stated above.  All kinds of names for these products have popped up: Merlex, Dryvit, EIFC, Sto, Finestone, and so on.  Most if not all of these brands are plasticized, which allows the stucco to flex during the expansion-and-contraction of weather differentials and also shed moisture very well—but unfortunately, plastic and plasticized products do not allow the vital transpiration of moisture through the straw bales that keeps straw healthy.  The few times I tried synthetic stucco I had disastrous results.  I highly recommend no-one uses it on straw bale construction.

 

Straw in stucco

Although this may sound strange, I have used both chopped straw particles (chaff) and longer strands in both adobe and cement mixes.  When finishing a straw bale wall, I always cap off the top of the wall with a very thick 70%-straw-30%-stucco mix cap.  This not only holds the wall together but the straw-stucco cap acts as a ‘thatch’ and sheds water similar to European-style roofs and in fact when I apply the same cap to the bottoms and sides of windows in a house, the same water-shedding capacity becomes evident.

Stucco for New Mexico Straw Bale

For both walls and houses, after I’ve applied the straw-less first coat of either stucco or adobe to the bales I mix finely-chopped straw pieces into the wet batch then apply it in a thick coat over the first coat.  The chopped straw adds body to the stucco, strengthens the mix, and helps fill in the inevitable holes that a straw bale wall has.

Adding straw to earth plaster applying coat of plaster to straw bale wall adobe plaster techniques straw bale adobe plaster new mexico

Applying plaster to straw bales or, ‘stuccoing’ is probably the hardest part of the whole straw bale building process.  But it can also be highly rewarding to watch your house or wall become even more aesthetically-pleasing as the plaster or stucco transforms the structure into a durable and thick-walled home. As with many elements of natural building, plastering is a process of trial and error. Experimentation is necessary for success. Creating a good mixture that is suitable for the climate and applying the mixture properly will always contribute to a longer lasting plaster or stucco for your beautiful straw bale walls.

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Straw Bale Construction Portflio

I’ve been asked a lot about building straw bale houses using the ‘load bearing’ method rather than the ‘post and beam’ one.  Here’s some thoughts on that:

Straw Bale Construction Load Bearing Method

First, let’s define load bearing:  That means, simply, the straw bale walls are stacked up on top of the foundation to the roof height, some kind of a header (usually wood) is placed on top of the straw bales with attachments of one sort or another to the foundation, and then the roof is put on top of that header.  Therefore, the straw bales bear the direct weight or ‘load’ of the roof–in technical terms, that’s called a ‘dead load’–and if there’s any snow resting on the roof in winter the bales have to bear that weight too–such temporary loads are called ‘live load’.  Not least, the straw bales will need to be able to withstand horizontal pressure–technically called ‘shear’–which wind produces against the walls of a building. Last straw pilgrim holiness church

Straw Bale Post and Beam

Next, the definition of post and beam:  That means there will be a frame to the building which could be out of wood (2×4′s or 6×6 posts or the like), steel beams, concrete blocks, railroad ties, telephone poles; you name it.  However the frame is built, and with whatever material is used, it’s that material which will take the ‘dead’ load, the ‘live’ load and the ‘shear’ load of the roof and wind.  The straw bales will be fitted in-between the frame, so all they do is hold up their own weight (though it turns out that bales in both load bearing and post and beam situations are remarkably good when it comes to resisting wind ‘shear’).

Example of post and beam house

The first straw bale houses were load bearing, and the US’s oldest existing straw bale house (built circa 1896) is load bearing, but these days there are many more post and beam ones.  A number of states–California, Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Utah, etc.–have incorporated load bearing into their building codes.  New Mexico, where I primarily work, has not yet done so but has issued loadbearing permits on a case by case basis; I’ve built five such houses in this state

. loadbearing straw bale house

Advantages of loadbearing:

-Obviously, you use a lot less wood when building the house. -One doesn’t need to fit the bales around the post and beam structure. -It can be constructed faster than post and beam. -One doesn’t need the carpentry skills of post and beam construction. -It could be considered the ‘greener’ option.   Straw Bale Greenhouse

Disadvantages of loadbearing:

-One has to be careful to not put too many doors or windows into the wall, or there won’t be enough strength in the straw bales to hold up the roof. -One needs to brace the walls as they go up, otherwise there’ll be nothing preventing them from falling over until the top plate or header is put on. -No matter how consistent and tight the bales are, the top plate will in all likelihood be a bit lower at one end than the other end. -Doors and window openings need to be treated carefully, or the weight of the roof will tend to push down against the tops of them. -One is limited in the size of the building.  In other words, if you have a large house (or a two-storey house) then the roof is going to weigh so much that the bales can’t take its pressure.  

Advantages of post and beam:

-One can design multiple doors and windows and two (or three) storeys and all kinds of other things without worrying about whether the house will stand. -It’s easier to produce a square and level house, since the post and beam structure is, well, square and level. -There are plenty of attachment points on the inside of the house for cabinets, shelving, countertops and so on. -Building officials and inspectors have an easier time accepting the post and beam concept, which makes for a smoother building application process. -One can put the roof on before bringing the bales on site, thus ensuring they will stay dry.   Stacking Bales East and North Faces

Disadvantages of post and beam:

-Construction is somewhat more expensive than the loadbearing option. -Erecting the post and beam frame requires carpentry skills. -One has to fit the bales around the post and beam structure. -One needs to brace the house very well, until the bales are installed and resist wind shear.

Conclusion:

So what is the best method of building straw bale houses, I’m often asked: loadbearing or post and beam?  My answer is that I personally have a preference for loadbearing, due to its ease and simplicity—but in many cases that’s not practical and post and beam will work better.  Sometimes, in instances like two of the photographs above where most of one wall is doors and windows with too few straw bales to support the roof, a combination of the two methods could work well.  Whichever method one chooses, building with caution and consideration for all elements of the design is a must!

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Straw Bale Construction

Maybe you’ve read about the secret of straw bale construction. Or you’ve found a newspaper article about this way of building that is efficient and sustainable, beautiful and strong.  Possibly you’ve gone by one of my  houses as it’s being constructed.

And if you’re thinking “Isn’t this too good to be true?”, or “Prove to me this is true!”, I think you’ll enjoy the article ahead.

If you’ve already settled on a project, call (or e-mail) me.  I’ll give you a free consultation and would like to learn more about your project.

Because after 23 years of building with this material, I have a lot to say about the sober truth of this material.

In 1991 I founded a straw bale construction company in Albuquerque New Mexico. Building with straw was a very unknown building method at the time, so I had to invent a lot of the techniques as I went.

 

Cadmon Whitty Straw Bale Builder New Mexico Paja Construction

Straw Bale As A Science

Along the way, I realized I had to stop idealizing straw bale as a building material and start looking at it critically, analytically—like a scientist, if you will.

The purpose of this post is to give a brief overview of the advantages and challenges of building with straw. Some of this you may already know, some of this may be new.  So whether you’re thinking about starting a project, or whether you’re in the midst of your own, I hope you find something you enjoy.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. I offer a free initial consultation, and would enjoy hearing about your project in the comments below.

Eight Advantages of Straw Bale Construction

1. Straw bale construction is affordable

Straw bale homes cost almost exactly the same amount of money to build as traditional stick-frame homes. If you’re interested in calculating and comparing the specific costs of building a straw bale home vs a stick frame home, feel free to contact me.

2. Straw bale walls are very well insulated, when built correctly can have an R-value between 40 and 60, depending on the thickness of the wall

There are many great resources out there that discuss the insulation characteristics of straw bale. The quality of insulation that a straw bale wall provides depends on a number of factors including the way the bales are stacked, the way the bales mesh with the roof’s insulation, the type of post-and-beam structure or if loadbearing the type of top plate, the type of plaster used, the quality of the plaster work, and the design of the house itself, among many others.

3 .Straw bale homes are more fire retardant than traditional stick-framed homes. *

This can be a topic of much debate. There are a numerous studies testing the flammability of straw bale, and even more articles talking about their results, including this Mother Earth News Article. The idea behind the material’s resistance to fire comes from the concept that the bales are so tightly packed that oxygen cannot enter in between the straws and fuel a fire. It is true there are tests that prove their inherent resistance to fire. However, there are still numerous factors that will allow a straw bale house to burn, especially during construction. This is not to discount the material’s flame retardant nature, but to remark that they are not impossible to burn, especially in certain circumstances.

4. Straw bales are an agricultural by-product (wheat, oats, rye, barley, and rice),

If you’re looking to build with a small carbon-footprint, this is a note to consider in your green conscience.  Straw is an annually-renewable resource, not at all like lumber which can take decades to produce trees capable of yielding 2×4’s.  It takes almost no extra energy to harvest bales, as opposed to the transportation-and-milling costs of lumber prior to producing the 2×4’s.  The straw harvests are in flat and previously-cultivated fields, not wrestled from forests, and therefore no environmental harm is done during the harvesting process.  Compared with other building products like wood, concrete or steel, bales are extremely light and easy to transport from the field to the construction site.  And unlike lumber, concrete and steel, straw is produced in almost every state of the union, thus saving fuel costs and less travel time to a work site.

5. Within the lower 48 states of the US, straw bales are almost always locally available.

If you’re looking for bales in the southwest, and are having trouble finding any suppliers, feel free to send me an email and I’ll do what I can to help you find some good quality bales to build a house.

6. Stacking bales can be incredibly fast and easy.

You will be amazed how fast an entire room can come to life when you’ve got several people working together stacking bales. Over the years, I’ve developed a couple trade-secrets that can improve the process dramatically. Contact me for some exclusive tips. Or attend one of my workshops.

7. Straw bale walls are gorgeous.

Most people love the look of the deep windows, niches, and bookcases that are made possible by straw bale construction. One caveat, though: if you’re very concerned with perfectly straight lines, bales might be rather frustrating for you.

8. Straw houses will save you money, year after year.

The walls are thick and will give you a cool house in the summer, a warm house in the winter.  It has a natural “trombe” effect, in other words it soaks up the coolness or the heat of the inside and stores it/releases it like a giant heater or an efficient refrigerator.  Places that confound stick-frame construction’s ability to properly insulate, like around windows and doors, behind electrical fixtures, or near the ceilings, they cease being places where heat can escape out of the house and are part of a seamless high-quality insulation that will astonish you with low monthly utility bills.  And because the inside of the walls are almost always stuccoed rather than having thin sheetrock nailed to 2×4’s every couple of feet, those interior walls are much stronger and will need much less repair during normal household activities, especially when children or teenagers are around!

eight Challenges of Straw Bale Construction

1. Building with straw is not fully-accepted as method of construction in many parts of the country. **

Plenty of building officials, inspectors, structural engineers and local authorities have been known to laugh in your face if you bring up the idea of building (or retrofitting) your home with straw. The nursery rhyme of the three little piggies will invariably come up, along with some understandable concerns regarding insects, mold, and longevity.

2. Talking of insects and mold

Straw bales will harbor both of those things if they are consistently wet or relentlessly exposed to high-humidity areas such a showers and sinks without adequate protection.  Of course, a conventional house will also easily host insects and is susceptible to mold, too, if not built right.  But straw is more sensitive to such things than wood-constructed and fiberglass-insulated structures.

3. It may take more time to acquire a building permit for a straw bale structure than it would a conventional one.

This is more to do with the social conception of the material, rather than the material itself.  In some areas of the country, especially the Southwest, straw bale building is a well-accepted method; in other areas where there is more moisture, cities and counties may look askance at the use of bales and might require additional assurances—such as paying a local structural engineer or requiring unnecessary moisture testing—before releasing the building permit.

4. Because of the thickness of the bales, you will lose square-footage inside a home.
  • A stick frame wall is around 6 inches thick
  • A straw bale wall is around 18 inches thick.

So that extra-thick wall will indeed eat up some of your interior space.  Most people simply make the exterior footprint of the house a bit bigger to make up for that lost space, or they live with a little less space inside.  But designing the house a bit bigger will add some costs to the construction of the house: you’ll need some extra concrete in your foundations, for example, and you’ll need to make your roof trusses a bit longer.

5. If the bales aren’t stacked properly, there can be small gaps in the walls that create thermal break-points in the otherwise well insulated walls.

Unless you’ve done a lot of work with straw, as you put up the bales you’ll tend to ignore those little spaces between the bales, or places where the bales abut the post-and-beam, or the areas next to the ceiling where the bales don’t quite fit, etc.  Those places in the wall where solid straw bales stack firmly on top of one another are going to provide the greatest insulation. But the areas around the doors and windows are can be hard places to do the firm stacking, and sometimes loose straw gets stuffed into a corner without being securely packed – and then settles over time. This becomes a spot for thermal leakage. So when you’re stacking your bales, pay attention to the ‘hard-to-reach’ places.  It really does make a difference, and really is easy to overlook.

6. Plaster is the crucial point of the construction process, and is often done poorly.

I have experienced so many different problems with plaster throughout my 23 years of straw bale construction. Both stucco and adobe have their pros and cons. Either way, the plaster job needs to be done right, and a poor plaster job is going to prevent the material from performing like it should. Check out my Adobe vs. Stucco article for more information on this one.  And if you are going to do the plastering yourself, get ready for a lot of fun –and even more hard hard work.

7. There are no studs at regular intervals

Alternate ‘hanging’ methods must be utilized to hang heavier pictures, mirrors, and cabinets on, and putting up shelves in closets where one of the walls is next to the bales needs to be done differently. This may be a bit frustrating at first, but there are some cool alternative ways I’ve developed over the years.

8. Working with Straw is fun, but often becomes a skin irritant.

This can mean nothing much more than itchy skin, but working with bales for days on end will make you want to have an air compressor or a hose nearby at all times.  Breathing straw dust, especially as you cut the bales with a chain saw, will set you coughing.  Or straw flakes will get in your eyes as you put up the top row of bales.  Just a thought.


What’s Your Project?

I’m eager to know your thoughts and opinions on the advantages and challenges of straw bale construction, and if you’re starting a project please let me know what you’re up to in the comments, or send me an email if you have any questions.

Straw Bale Viga Porch

*Steen, Steen & Bainbridge (1994).  The Straw Bale House. Chelsey Green Publishing Co.  ISBN  0- 930031-71-7.

**Recently, an article titled, “Straw Stuck” was posted on The Tyee stating, “The myth of straw bale as an inferior building material is gradually changing as an increasing number of people in B.C. start to use natural, renewable materials to build their homes.” which is great to hear.

Here is a list of similar articles and blog posts with good information:

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Homes designed in harmony with nature

Cadmon’s Thoughts on Green Building

Green building has become a catch phrase, a buzzword, many people are interested in it, many builders use it as a means of capturing an interested audience. I have been building “green” for many years and have my own take on the word.

Let me first say what I think green building is not:

1) Green building is not an overwhelming use of conventional building methods (questionable insulation, high ceilings, designed sustainability in mind, etc) It is not simply putting an energy efficient boiler in a house that is otherwise poorly constructed.

2) It is not using a few so called “green” building methods such as solar power while ignoring a sustainable building ethos in a project.

3) It is not catering to the common notion that “larger is beautiful”, or “larger is necessary”

What Green building is:

1) Careful design work that will match an owner’s budget as well as their needs and dreams for a space that is built in harmony with the local environment.

2)Full utilization of all spaces, hopefully allowing for a smaller building footprint. This could include things like: lofts, basements, partial basements, and or porches.

3) Use of truly sustainable, recyclable materials such as: straw bale, adobe, cob, rammed earth. Use of locally sourced building materials such as vigas and or natural materials that are available locally or recycled.

  • A good example of this is the vigas we used in our Off Grid Straw Bale Home project in Manzano. They were harvested from a nearby forest fire that felled many trees last summer, and we managed to find great timber that otherwise would have rotted away

Vigas and Windows South Face of Straw Bale House

4) Potential use of blown fiberglass insulation that contains a high portion of recycled materials, sheep’s wool, if properly installed is also a green insulation option.

5) Avoidance of lumber such as 2×12′s that require old-growth forest harvesting (trees that are over 50 years old). etc.

6) Exploring the use of systems such as passive solar, or in the case of areas that need more cooling than heating, minimizing passive solar gain. Utilizing natural ventilation, exterior areas such as porches, gazebos, greenhouses that could extend the ambiance of a house and provide cool or warm living spaces for homeowners.

7) Use of clear-story windows or sola tubes rather than skylights to achieve natural lighting. The single best thing you can do to insulate a house is to use sufficient ceiling insulation. Putting a skylight in the ceiling makes this attempt very inefficient.

8) Use of Trombe walls, as shown in the photo below, to enhance the natural capacity of a house to heat or cool itself.

Adobe Trombe Wall

9) Judicious placement of room-to-room ventilation. For example: south-facing rooms which can transpire heat to potentially colder northern sections of the house, or conversely, north facing windows that could naturally cool a house.

10) Use of a modified geo-thermal system in cases where basements are appropriate to provide a temperature homeostasis, utilizing the innate temperature equilibrium of the earth.

11)  Greywater systems, rainwater collection, solar water heating, as shown outside this straw bale greenhouse as part of Mary Lindsay’s straw bale home.

Straw Bale Greenhouse

Conclusion:

 Green building is not adding one green item to a traditional building, but rather an entire structure and building method using energy-saving and renewable materials, designed with sustainability and efficiency in mind.

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straw bale truth window

Top 7 Straw Bale Mistakes

Given I first started my straw bale construction business in 1991, I must admit that I learned a lot of mistakes the hard way: by making them. So here’s a list that came to my mind when I was asked by a fellow builder what I thought the top straw bale mistakes were. The list is not given in any necessary order.

1) Covering straw bales with some kind of non-breathable material prior to plastering, thus not allowing bales to transpire moisture.

2) Doors, windows, and other openings are poorly insulated; plaster cracks, moisture and insects penetrate in the weakest areas of the straw bale building.

3) Insufficient use of a good external plaster(usually stucco in the Southwest United States), thus not protecting the bales from external damage and in the case of straw bale walls, not giving the structure enough structural integrity.

4) Lack of sufficient design: in terms of houses, not allowing enough drainage away from the building to prevent water penetration into the bales; insufficient overhang, roof overhangs, poor choice of placement of structure on building site which may or may not allow for natural drainage, vegetation within the vicinity to shade or heat the building, not allowing use of passive solar gain, etc.

5) Poor integration between straw bale wall and ceiling; insufficient placement of loose straw bale flakes in-between the bales themselves, thus compromising the natural insulation value (R-value) of the material.

6) Insufficient placement of straw bale reinforcement, namely stucco netting, which can cause structural failure of the sheathing (plaster), which can lead to a host of other failures.

7) Insufficient plaster. Ie using an adobe that has insufficient aggregate proportion, or using a stucco that has a bad ratio of sand to cement.

Conclusion

As you can see, openings and plaster are crucial parts of the straw bale construction process. It is imperative that the entire straw bale house is sealed as tightly as possible and that all loose areas or openings are packed tightly with straw. Plastering is a time-consuming art, and has taken decades for us to develop the right system. If you’re an owner-builder experiencing a straw bale problem, or are looking into building a straw bale home, please feel free to
contact us
at any time.

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