Low-Cost Green Home

Straw Bales

building straw bale house walls
Photos courtesy of The Canelo Project

Straw bales can be used either as load-bearing structure and insulation or just as insulation filled in around a post-and-beam structure. The basic strawbale construction process is fairly simple; bales are stacked and then covered with plaster and/or stucco. The thickness of straw bales makes them excellent insulation, and the straw is usually inexpensive.

Advantages of strawbale construction:

straw bale house walls with roof trusses

While straw is much more resistant to pests, fire, and compression than people expect, it is vulnerable to moisture, and great care must be taken to keep water out, especially along the foundation, around windows and doors, and along the tops of the walls. The plaster or stucco coating must be applied thoroughly, and plumbing should be run outside the bales. As long as the straw's moisture content is kept below 20%, it will not decompose, and it should last almost indefinitely.

The thickness and texture of strawbale walls gives a house unusual aesthetic qualities that can be carried throughout the interior design.

For much more information on strawbale building, see The Canelo Project.

strawbale house interior