From: dirtcheapbuilder-Charmaine Taylor <tms@northcoast.

com> Subject: LIGHT STRAW CLAY Date: October 21, 2005 11:29:56 PM PDT 2 Attachments, 320 KB

Photo: interior wall, a dry lightstraw clay wall before plastering Light Straw-Clay

Light Straw -Clay is an adaptation, or sister-form, of wattle and daub. In Germany, where it developed it is called Leichtlehm, or 'light clay' and has been in use for over 400 years. It is a mixture of straw soaked in a clay 'slip' and is most commonly packed into formworks, creating walls that are essentially rammed straw. While similar to rammed earth in concept, it requires no heavy machinery, and less extensive or sturdy formwork and bracing. Building with Light Straw -Clay is a different technique from adobe, cob, or compressed earth block construction. A mix of clay and water are made to a thick consistency and straw is dipped and bathed in the slurry until fully coated. Then the resultant material is tamped into narrow forms which form the nonloadbearing walls of a timberframe, pole, bamboo or even metal frame structure. The walls breathe, and can be coated with a natural earth plaster. This building technique uses basically inexpensive materials, although it can be very labor intensive. When the clay slip on the straw is nearly dry, the straw is placed into a form and packed down tightly. The result is a light weight straw panel that is not load bearing. The planning involved in building walls of Light StrawClay requires having the house frame (pole or timberframe, etc. ) in place before the material can be packed in the formwork. Essentially building with Light Straw-Clay is similar to a conventional framed house only with six to eight inch thick walls of clay coated straw. Light Straw -Clay has the advantage of being fire resistant/fire proof, and insect resistant. The hollow chamber of the straw traps air and adds insulation value to the walls. Light Straw-Clay can be used to create not only thin exterior or interior walls, but also insulation and ceiling panels placed between rafters, load-bearing components between floor joists with second stories, or insulation below adobe floors. This material make a great filler in gabled ends of a roof and used above windows and door frames. Light Straw-Clay provides less insulation than straw bales, but offers greater flexibility in building walls of different widths. Another advantage of straw light clay is that the thickness of the wall can be increased to provide greater insulation value depending on the local climate. Packed into an adobe brick forms Light Straw-Clay can also form a lightweight block. Some builders are experimenting with packing Light Straw-Clay into fiber or grain sacks and using it as a stuffing and insulation. It could also be packed in bags held in a form and kept squared until dry and used as firm building blocks, used as wall filler, or cut up and used as infill for small spaces or to make repairs. Straw bale builders routinely use Light Straw-Clay to fill in gaps, odd spaces and narrow areas where 'flakes' (a flake is a loose amount of straw) might not work. Robert Laporte, founder of Econest Building Center, is a timberframe house builder in New Mexico , and an enthusiast of Light Straw-Clay. LaPorte who also teaches natural building courses nationwide works with Frank Andresen, of ProClay, a German builder with extensive experience in this method. They are developing different techniques and uses for Light Straw-Clay. * Taylor Publishing PO Box 375 Cutten CA 95534 707-441-1632 www.dirtcheapbuilder.com

Light-Straw-Clay Building (c)2000 The Dirt Cheap Houses Guidebook

Exterior of unplastered light straw clay home
Charmaine Taylor Publishing www.paperartists.com PO Box 375 Cutten CA 95534 USA 707-441-1632 www.dirtcheapbuilder.com www.papercrete.com

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