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Rammed Earth Basics

Rammed Earth Books

Rammed Earth House - book cover.

The Rammed Earth House
by David Easton and Cynthia Wright

      The Rammed Earth House is an eye-opening example of how the most dramatic innovations in home design and construction frequently have their origins in the distant past. By rediscovering the most ancient of all building materials--earth--forward thinking home builders can now create structures that set new standards for beauty , durability, and efficient use of natural resources.

      Humans have been using earth as a primary building material for more than ten thousand years. Rammed earth, as practiced today, involves tamping a mixture of earth, water, and a little cement into wooden forms to create thick, sturdy masonry walls.

      Rammed earth combines pleasing aesthetics and intense practicality with a powerful sense of place. Rammed earth homes are built entirely on-site, using basic elements--earth, water, and a little cement. The solid masonry walls permit design flexibility while providing year-round comfort and minimal use of energy. The builder and resident of a rammed earth house will experience the deep satisfaction of creating permanence in a world dominated by the disposable.

Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction       Earthbuilt homes offer their inhabitants a powerful sense of security and well-being and have a permanence and solidity altogether lacking in so many of today's modular, pre-fab houses. David Easton is the founder, along with Cynthia Wright, of Rammed Earth Works (REW Associates), a company that over the past twenty years has designed and built more than one hundred rammed earth structures for residential and commercial clients around the world.

      Note: David Easton invented Terra Tiles, using a soil-cement mixture which is troweled about an inch thick on the floor and cut apart into separate tiles. I read his article in an old issue of Fine Homebuilding magazine and learned to make our own terra tiles. Along the way we added a few techniques of our own to the process. Easton barely covers the topic in his book The Rammed Earth House, so be sure to check out my book Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction for more indepth coverage of this unique flooring method.

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Buildings of Earth and Straw - book cover.

Buildings of Earth and Straw
Structural Design for Rammed Earth and Straw-Bale Architecture
by Bruce King, P.E.

      There are many other excellent books on strawbale and rammed earth construction to help guide the novice builder down the path to building the house of their dreams. Buildings of Earth and Straw is intended more as a companion to the other guides, rather than a competitor. Author Bruce King has tackled the engineering side of working with earth and straw building materials to create a common language for builders, architects, and building inspectors. With this book as your guide, you can build a strawbale or rammed earth house in a way that is truly structurally sound and you can provide the building inspector with the engineering data to back it up.

      Although parts of the book will require an engineering background to understand it, most of the content is accessable to the lay person, and King makes even the mundane engineering interesting, and at times, humorous. This book is truly essential for anyone building a strawbale or rammed earth house in places where building codes are enforced. In places where building codes do not exist, this book is still highly recommended, to insure that you build a safe and stable structure.

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Rammed Earth Walls for Farm Buildings.

Rammed Earth Walls for Farm Buildings
1933, Bulletin #277

      This book extensively explores the soils and methods used for successful Rammed Earth construction. Covers many plaster and finishing tests, with recommendations for lime, asphalt, cement "cream" and linseed oil.

      charts on aggregates percentage in soil for best compression, and other useful construction information from footings to roof. The South Dakota Agricultural Dept. built an experimental poultry house and recorded all experiments thoroughly to inform others on successful rammed earth building. The black and white photos are grainy due to original document age (and earth and dirt never photograph well in b&w in any case), but the text information is most valuable for anyone wanting to avoid problems during manual rammed earth building. 67 pages, black and white photos and illustrations.

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Modern Pise Building.

Modern Pise Building
House building with compressed or rammed earth
A revelation for the Farmer and Settler

      This reprint of the original 1923 booklet includes extensive coverage of rammed earth building methods from the 1920's. you are curious about earthen and adobe building this is a good, inexpensive resource to start with.

      Karl & Inez Ellington traveled all over Europe and the USA promoting the rammed earth method. Karl was a true "back to the land" builder. He stipulates that each man or "settler" should take advantage of the soil beneath his feet and build a "cozy little home". He describes the foundation, selecting soil; mixing, formworks and a variety of lime washes and plasters.

      Dozens of black and white photos of houses in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, France, New Mexico & English cob are revealed. The book covers walls with cross-section diagrams showing construction methods, roof design, and attachment. It provides recipes for finish coating walls - limewash and plasters. Black and white diagrams throughout.

      You also get a real sense of life in the 1920s, a most charming booklet. Inez and Karl Ellington answered letters from all over the world about building with rammed earth, and enthusiastically promoted this method all their lives. 105 pages.

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

      Looking for life-changing resources? Check out these books by Thomas J. Elpel:

Green Prosperity: Quit Your Job, Live Your Dreams.
Roadmap to Reality: Consciousness, Worldviews, and the Blossoming of Human Spirit
to Reality
Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction
Participating in Nature: Wilderness Survival and Primitive Living Skills.
in Nature
Foraging the Mountain West: Gourmet Edible Plants, Mushrooms, and Meat.
Foraging the
Mountain West
Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
in a Day
Shanleya's Quest: A Botany Adventure for Kids

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