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GSBN:Time for some updating and reflection on...

Hello everyone,

Sorry any cross postings.

Think it's time for some updating about how we do what we do on some of the
basic designs of straw-bale walls. We get calls all the time asking basic
questions and, as design details and construction methods and techniques
have changed over time, it might be a good thing to share experiences,
ideas, methods and techniques, tips, pros and cons...

¥ Staking vs exterior pinning vs wire wrap vs stitching: why you use one
method or technique over the other; benefits, pros and cons; when to use,
when not to use.

¥ How to treat the base of the bale for moisture protection? Toe-ups (what
design, why better), stem walls (design, benefits), felt paper or not, metal
or not, flat on slab with tar coating under bale, or other methods and

¥ Pros and cons of wrapping bottom bales with felt paper for splash and
water protection. What can be done to protect the base of the wall instead
of this method?

¥ How to deal with cavities at top of walls, breaks between bales on the
vertical and horizontal,  - stuffing flakes or cakes, adding cob or
straw/clay, trimming or cutting the bales to fit

¥ Flashing and preparing area around windows and doors before plastering -
what's your technique and why does it work?

¥ Add the door and window trim before or after preparing the surface?

¥ Installing windows and doors before or after plastering?

¥ Should an older building be retrofitted with bales? If so, what are the
concerns: fire chimney, water leaks, etc. What about attaching two different
surfaces together - how to do it, materials to use, various methods? Remove
existing exterior siding or not? Extending the eaves/roof over the bale
wall. Adding foundation for the bale wall.

¥ How to design and flooring detail for sb wall with basement?

¥ How to attach interior walls to the exterior bale walls?

¥ What types of materials can be used for interior walls (not drywall)?

¥ Staining concrete floors, stamping or cutting patterns into concrete
floors, acid vs other stains, where to go for help or answers.

¥ Earthen floors: methods and techniques, materials and mixes, sealing or
not sealing, experiences (successes, failures)

¥ What type of bales do you use and why? Wheat, oat, rye, rice, barley,
hemp, flax, grasses, hay, other. Availability, what do you like about one
type of straw or grass or hay over another, workability, ease in cutting and
working with, properties (insulative value, compression, density, moisture,
burn time, other), helping to create value-added market in my area/region

¥ What methods, materials, techniques, tools, tips make building with bales
more efficient for your needs - owner/builder, commercial builder,
contractor, plasterer?

¥ What kind of research, testing or evaluation do you think needs to be done
to help move straw-bale forward as a building method and material?

Your ideas about what we should update and reflect on in future issues of
The Last Straw journal are always welcome. We're still primarily reader
written and most of the content of the journal comes from people who are
doing and are involved with strawbale. So let us hear from you!

We may use your responses in one issue focused on updating and reflections,
or we may use some in various issues over the coming year. Just depends on
how things fit together as we prepare each issue. We're glad to work with
you on the writing, editing, content, photos and illustrations, so don't
hesitate to ask!

Would like to include some feature articles, or it can be  short straws or
tech tips (brief articles describing a method, technique, a tip on how you
do it). Illustrations and photos are always welcome.


Joyce Coppinger, Managing Editor
The Last Straw journal
GPFS/TLS, PO Box 22706, Lincoln NE 68542-2706 USA
402.483.5135, fax 402.483.5161

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