What is Light Straw Clay?

Learn about all of the benefits using light straw clay can bring to your future building projects.

  • Daub is a mud mixture applied to wattle - a network of woven sticks in the wall.
    Photo by Pixabay/Monsterkoi
  • “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 explains what light straw clay is.

What is light straw clay? It is an infill system of loose straw lightly coated in clay that is packed into forms (temporary or permanent) to insulate and enclose a building. It is not load bearing, but it can be mixed to a variety of densities. The “light” in light straw clay refers to two things: the amount of clay (less than in traditional daub in wattle and daub) and the material’s weight (it is very light). Light straw clay is the English translation of the German word “leichtlehmbau.”

Light straw clay was developed in Europe mas an evolution of the wattle-and-daub infill system that filled in the spaces between structural members in half-timbered houses from the 12th century, on. According to Robert and Paula Laporte, North America’s preeminent light straw clay experts:

The light version was introduced after World War II, in Europe. The modern examples that Robert studied were infill systems like the wattle-and-daub predecessors, in which the light straw clay mixture was placed between a post-and-beam framework. In order to meet modern-day energy demands, this “lighter version” doubled the wall thickness and halved the density by introducing more straw, resulting in a radical increase in thermal performance.

There are a few other frequently used names for light straw clay: light clay, straw clay and slip straw are commonly used, and it has also been referred to as rammed straw (akin to rammed earth wall systems that have little-to-no fiber in them). For the sake of consistency, all of the above will be referred to in this book as light straw clay, or LSC.

Advantages of Light Straw Clay

As a light straw clay wall system is composed of more fiber (straw) than binder (clay), it is much lighter and much less dense than other natural wall systems like cob, adobe, or rammed earth.



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