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Building with Papercrete and Paper Adobe
A Revolutionary New Way to Build Your Own Home for Next to Nothing
by Gordon Solberg
Review by Thomas J. Elpel

      Is it possible to build a house for $1,000 or less? Yes, such things are still possible with creative plans and alternative materials like papercrete or paper adobe. Papercrete (also known as fibercrete or fibrous cement) is made from recycled wastepaper reduced to pulp in an oversize blender made with a lawnmower blade. It is mixed with a small amount of cement and sand. (Or, in the case of paper adobe, the paper pulp is mixed with clay soil instead of cement.) Papercrete or paper adobe can be cast into blocks, poured into wall or roof forms, or hand-sculpted over formwork to make houses of just about any design you can imagine.

      Papercrete and paper adobe should be considered experimental building materials which may not be approved where building codes are in effect. Strawbale housing started out much the same way. The first strawbale homes were built out in the boondocks where codes didn't exist. The technology proved itself over time and gradually became accepted by codes, first in rural places, and now in many urban settings. Papercrete may follow a similar route of acceptance, but it will take time and cautious experimentation.

      Interestingly, papercrete was first patented about 100 years ago, but the technology never went anywhere because nobody could make any money off of it! Building with Papercrete and Paper Adobe is a great introduction to this new/old technique. Perhaps your own papercrete or paper adobe home or out-building will one day contribute to the knowledge and acceptance of this very cost-effective and resource-efficient building method. ISBN: 1-928627-02-1. 150 pages. 2002.


The Making of Papercrete DVD
From yesterday's newspaper, and today's junk mail
comes the low cost home of tomorrow!

DVD with Judith Williams

      Welcome to...... The Making of Papercrete with Judith Williams. This DVD introduces a superior, lightweight papercrete block you can make yourself.

      Create your own environmentally friendly, sound proof, and inexpensive home with yesterday's newspaper, and today's junk mail! Every month, millions of tons of refuse enter our landfills. A lot of it is not salvagable. But, for office paper, magazines, light cardboard, junk mail, and newspapers, papercrete offers the perfect solution, by removing tons of waste paper from the ever-growing piles, while providing useful shelter material. Use these discarded paper products as a perfect medium to build your own home!

      As a transplanted "boomer" to sunny New Mexico, and fast approaching retirement age, Judith Williams wanted to create a beautiful home that she could build myself. She had a long list of "Wants" and "Must Haves" and looked at many alternative building methods, each with their own benefits, and drawbacks, before settling on papercrete. She jumped in with both feet!

      Williams' special mix is devised of newspaper, portland cement and pumice to produce extremely light, yet strong blocks. See how she created this formula on the DVD and why it produces such a superior papercrete block. As Williams discovered, almost by accident, you don't have to use ONLY paper, sand and cement in papercrete. You can experiment with many other materials you have in your region.

      Williams took the basic 10-30-60 papercrete recipe a step further, and providing what may be the best papercrete formulation to date for wall building. You can take advantage of this research and experimentation and create a lightweight, insulative, fire resistant block now... and get busy building a place to live!

      This DVD shows the low tech "tow" mixer design and use, tips for making a better mix with less splash and trouble, how to form dozens of blocks at once, easily, and how to mortar dried blocks into a wall.

      You will also see how to slipform walls with this mix, sliding the forms up the wall and pouring it level by level. Run time is approximately 1 hour.


Building With Bags
How We Built Our Experimental Earthbag/Papercrete Home
DVD with Kelly Hart

      By using misprinted polypropelene rice bags, and filling them with earth and pumice, the Harts created a unique twin dome home, complete with solar/PV and indoor garden - ala Earthship design.

      The DVD shows building methods using long and short bags, tips and tricks, materials for windows and air vents, failures and problems encountered, plastering with lime and papercrete, plus mixing papercrete in both a drum and tow mixer. Plus he covers electrical installation, plumbing, and a natural rock wall shower they built.

      It includes interviews with Shirley Tassencourt who built her earthbag dome after training with Superadobe teacher Nader Khalili, a single 40-something woman building on her own, and a young couple building room-by-room with bags. A poured in place adobe (earthen) floor is shown being built, as well as the Hart's tamped soil/scoria (no) foundation construction, and an earth bermed north wall.

      Kelly offers an honest evaluation of the work, problems and joys involved in constructing an earthbag structure, and he details costs for all materials. 90 minutes of complete earth bag building information.


Tirolessa USA Stucco Sprayer
This Mortar Sprayer Makes Stucco Work a Snap!

      The Tirolessa USA Stucco Sprayer can be used for applying plaster, small scale shotcrete, papercrete, earthen mixes and more. It can be used for plastering a stucco house, traditional plastering of stucco's such as one coat or three coat stucco, GFRC, stamped concrete you can also use it for a stucco fence and also helps in building organic sculptures. It is also is very efficient for many alternative building methods like strawbale, earth bag, insulated panels and thin shell / ferro cement. The range is from 1/8 heavy texture to 1 thick structural layers.

      Use the wall sprayer with a 5 hp electric (220 volt), 6.5 hp gas compressor or larger. More air is better, bigger tanks are better. The goal is to let the compressed air do the work for you. If you have at least an 8 hp gas compressor, it is a good idea to maximize the air flow and throwing power with 1/2 ID air hose and fittings.

Wall Sprayer Features:
      -Two sets of changeable jets to match your compressor.
      -Regular jets flow 7cfm@90psi
      -Large jets flow 12cfm@90psi to throw mix harder
      -Non rusting hopper
      -Cleaning tool set
      -Heavy texture up to 1
      -Proudly made in the USA.




See also: Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction.

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