Building with Light Straw Clay

Know how to appropriately use light straw clay for all of your future building projects.

  • Rounded corners are achievable with LSC wall systems by using rounded forms.
    Photo by Pixabay/rauschenberger
  • “Light Straw Clay Construction” by Lydia Doleman is a fully illustrated guide to building with light straw clay.
    Photo courtesy of New Society Publishers

Light Straw Clay Construction (New Society Publishers, 2017) by Lydia Doleman is an essential how-to guide for those looking to start light straw clay projects. From the basics of LSC to project plans featuring LSC, Doleman gives readers everything needed to start out on their own successful projects. In the following excerpt, she goes through the appropriate ways to use light straw clay in your projects.

Of the many natural wall systems to choose from, there are many reasons to choose a light straw clay wall system. Straw clay is highly compatible with framed wall systems because it is a non-load bearing material. Light straw clay can be infilled in nearly every wall framing system, be it timber framing, pole framing, conventional lumber framing, or framing specifically designed for straw clay infill.

LSC is also excellent retrofit insulation because preexisting walls can be furred out to any thickness. Furring out a wall simply involves adding stud material to the desired depth of wall. This can be done to the interior of a building or to the exterior. Using staggered studs or Larsen trusses also improves the insulation’s performance because it allows the creation of a continuous thermal envelope, virtually eliminating the thermal bridging that occurs in a conventionally framed building (where solid studs create breaks between insulated stud cavities).

Interior walls can be infilled with straw clay in buildings that have exterior wall systems of other materials. Interior walls can benefit from the soundproofing and thermal mass that straw clay provides, and they provide a seamless look because they take plaster as well as other natural wall systems. If done with good and consistent formwork and with attention to detail, the walls can be very flat, lending themselves to very smooth finish plaster, which leads to less “dusting” through the life of the wall.

LSC’s compatibility with conventional framing systems makes it easier to find contractors who can provide straightforward estimates for a project.

Wall systems or walls with lots of openings, like the south side of a passive solar building in the Northern Hemisphere, are highly compatible with straw clay, whereas cob, adobe, and straw bale are hard to work with around windows, doors, and other openings. It’s a somewhat common practice to design a building that takes advantage of the high R-value of straw bales for the north, west, and east walls of a building, but use LSC in the south wall, which has the bulk of the glazing (windows).



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