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PSP - alternative to tar paper?

 
paul wheaton
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I can't remember if it was in the book or in the video ...  mike oehler mentioned that he would like to find an alternative to tar paper on the roof. 

What would that alternative be?

 
Susan Monroe
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I was looking for a paper that wouldn't absorb water, to line mason bee nest boxes.  I discovered baking parchment.  I cut off a piece 4x4" and put it in a glass of water for three days.  Took it out, shook it off, and it hadn't absorbed one drop of water.

How about roofing-type felt (paper) treated with silicone? 

At least it shouldn't stink in the sun.

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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my first thought was something akin to waxed paper but I suppose the wax would melt in a roof situation. what about something that is oiled? new term..."lard roof"  probably would have to be treated with a preservative though.

polar fleece just popped into my mind. water is very slow to permeate it and tends to bead on top. dunk it in a vat of melted lard and you might just have somehting that would work.
 
paul wheaton
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Mike Oehler
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I'm using EPDM, the swimming pool and containment pond liner for the initial waterproofing layer on my roofs these days. Then four inches of dirt, a layer of six or ten mil polyethylene and another 14 inches of earth.
 
paul wheaton
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Susan Monroe
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Paul, I think it depends on the thickness.  I know it comes in 45 and 60 mil at least.

Oh, here's a site that has measurements and prices, but I don't know how competitive they are:  http://www.pondliners.com/

Sue
 
Nicholas Covey
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Looking around, it appears that about $.35 to $.50 a square foot is the prce range for 45 mil. Not cheap by any means... In high rain areas such as yours Paul, it may be the way to go, despite the price.
 
paul wheaton
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I'm back onto this issue because in another thread I got an idea ...

Plus, with the sepp workshop stuff I got more ideas and the like. 

First, I want to say that the butcher paper idea is not bad.  If I remember, butcher paper ain't cheap.  How much is it?

Pond liner .... I really like the idea of being a lot cheaper than pond liner.  And the polyethylene seems really cheap. 

Sepp would use a sort of felt to put on logs and then pond liner and then more felt.  The purpose of the flet was to protect the pond liner from the logs and from any rocks.  The felt wont stretch and will buffer/stop sharp things. 

Mike puts flat wood on logs.  That flat wood reduces the need for the felt. 

So I kinda think ...  if you have lots of logs or sticks, you could use felt instead of getting a bunch of lumber ....

But!  My curiosity at the moment  is about .... newspaper!  What if one had stacks and stacks and stacks of newspaper?  It seems that could do a lot of what tar paper could do.  Plus, with a quarter inch thick layer of newspaper, it is pretty water repellent on its own. 

So ... maybe a layer of 2x4s, then a layer of newspaper, then a layer of polyethylene, then another layer of newspaper, then four inches of soil, then newspaper, polyethylene, more newspaper, then 14 inches of soil?

What do you all think?


 
Susan Monroe
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Why would you want soil and newspaper next to each other, sandwiched between two sheets of polyethylene?

Not butcher paper, baker's parchment.  It is silicone-treated paper. 

WalMart:  Reynolds brand, about $5.50 for 30 sq ft (15" x 24ft) which comes to .18+ cents/sq ft. 

I just googled bulk parchment and found a 65 sqft roll for $5.62 which works out to be slightly less than .09 cents/sqft.  Plus shipping.  Cheaper than pond liner.

Buy a roll or beg a piece from someone and immerse it in water for a few days or a week and see what doesn't happen.

Sue
 
paul wheaton
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Susan Monroe wrote:
Why would you want soil and newspaper next to each other, sandwiched between two sheets of polyethylene?


BWA HA HA HA!  Why would anyone make a monkey with four asses!  SCIENCE! 

Oehler's technique is a layer of flat-ish wood, layer of tarpaper, a layer of plastic, a four inch layer of soil, a layer of plastic and then a layer of 14 inches of soil.

Holzer's technique is a layer of round wood, a layer of expensive felt, a layer of expensive pond liner, a layer of expensive felt and a layer of one meter of soil. 

I'm a cheap bastard.  And lazy.  And I think these two guys are rather brilliant, so I want to ride on their shoulders a bit.  And on top of that, I have seen newspaper used as a mulch and I can tell you that it matted and made an impermeable layer -- such as would be an excellent roofing material. 

Used newspaper is free. 

The purpose of the tar paper in Oehler's design it to keep the wood from poking holes in the plastic. 

The purpose of the felt in Holzer's design it to keep the wood or the soil from poking holes in the pond liner. 

Tar paper costs money and seems stinky-icky to me. 

Felt costs money and the stuff Holzer used seems a little stinky to me and I wonder how eco-friendly it is. 

So ....  I start adding all this up and think it could be worth trying.



 
Mike Oehler
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Newspaper under the first layer of poly or EPDM (pond liner) might work, but I agree with Susan that newspaper in contact with the earth in a structure is dubious at best. Mulch and building materials are two different things completely. Also you should be aware that most newspaper ink, particularly the colored inks are unhealthy.
 
paul wheaton
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To make my point, I need to describe the layers ...

Layer 1:  14 inches of soil

Layer 2:  one sheet of plastic

Layer 3:  4 inches of soil

Layer 4: newspaper

Layer 5: one sheet of plastic

Layer 6:  newspaper

Layer 7:  flat wood (2x4, etc.)

So, you are saying that you think layer 6 will probably be okay.  You have concerns about colored inks, and I share those concerns.  At the same time, I think that newspaper with colored inks is probably far less toxic than tar paper.  Which contains tar!  Ick!

Your concern is really with layer 4.  Yes?

And your concern has to do with soil touching the newspaper, causing the newspaper to rot.  When anything rots, in time it becomes much, much smaller.  There will be settling.

Point #1:  For the soil to be soil and not dirt, it will contain organic matter.  So the shrinkage issue is already there.  If this is pure dirt and not soil, then it will be inert and not bother the newspaper.  It would take soil organisms (in soil) to break down the newspaper.

Point #2:  Above this newspaper is 4 inches of dirt, a layer of plastic and 14 more inches of dirt.  The odds of oxygen getting this low are pretty slim.  And oxygen will be required for microbes to break down the newspaper.  And water.  And we probably aren't gonna see much (if any) water, either. 

Point #3.  Even if there is water, soil and oxygen, it is my opinion that newspaper would need a lot of N to break down.  If there is any N in the soil, it will dissipate very quickly and then be gone. 

Point #4:  Holzer used pourous felt around his rubber liner.  The mission of the felt was to protect the rubber from sharp rocks and the like.  I would be using newspaper to protect a thinner layer of plastic from the sharp rocks.  The protection is needed during the laying of the soil.  Once the soil is down and the house is built, all should be well and not change. 

I could see if the newspaper surrounded the upper layer of plastic that the stuff on top of that plastic would be subjected to some level of decomposition. 






 
Nicholas Covey
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Paul,

I like your style, and I see your point. (I too am cheap :mrgreen

Everyone is wondering about the layer of newspaper above and in contact with the soil. However, it's purpose is primarily to take the brunt of the abuse that it would suffer when being buried and worked with. Correct?

Once everything is settled it is free to rot in peace, and still offers some protection to the plastic as it is reduced to humus without anything sharp in it.

This is not unlike mike using a layer of old cardboard as a buffer when backfilling along the outside of the structure. Cardboard might be a viable buffer on the roof as well.
 
paul wheaton
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I think newspaper is better than cardboard.  Much better. 

The gaps between pieces of cardboard are gonna make spots where soil pressure from above could cause the plastic to stretch and break.  Newspaper can be layered so that any gaps would be so tiny as to be insignificant. 

Plus, as cardboard is compressed with tons and tons of dirt, does it krinkle?  Does it become anything other than really flat? 

I think that newspaper will lay exactly the same whether it has one pound on it or 40 tons.  No shifts.  No krinkles. 

 
paul wheaton
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I took a gob of newspaper last night and sorta folded into a cone.  Then put in about three cups of water.    After several minutes no water came through. 

This morning, the newspaper appears to have soaked up all the water.  But it still seems strong. 

I guess what I have learned is that if water finds the newspaper, it will mostly shed the water and it will absorb some. 

Not terribly important. 
 
paul wheaton
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I'm now so jazzed about this that I'm thinking that I want to do it for the upper layer too.  Yes, the newspaper on the upper layer will eventually rot, but I think it will still protect the thin plastic. 

 
Susan Monroe
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Well, I guess if you were just using it like you would a thick layer of finely sifted soil, it would be okay. 

By the way, folks, COLORED NEWSPAPER (in the U.S.) NO LONGER HAS TOXIC INKS IN IT.  All the newspapers are now printed with soy inks so they can be recycled with the b&w paper.

In the 'olden days', only b&w newspaper was recyclable and we had to pull out the colored pages.  Now ALL parts are recyclable, including the glossy advertising inserts.  All are printed with vegetable soy inks.

Sue
 
paul wheaton
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I just got off the phone with Mike a few minutes ago.  He was calling me about something else, but he did mention that he thinks he might be coming around on my newspaper ideas.

 
Susan Monroe
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Paul, does Holzer use real wool felt or polyester (plastic) felt? 

Sue
 
paul wheaton
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A plastic felt. 

FYI:  I just got back from Mike's place.  Lots and lots to say - but I gotta catch up on a few things first ...
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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I'm looking forward to hearing your report on Mike's place!

I think the newspaper idea has merit.  I had a stack of newspaper sitting in the middle of the garden all winter -- was going to spread it around as a weed barrier, and didn't use all of it, and we got snow before I picked up the left-overs.  We are on the dry side of the mountains, but our winters are wet.  The newspaper was still pretty much intact when our neighbor tilled the garden for us, just the outer layers had rotted.  That's with full exposure to the soil in the garden (which is pretty good soil) and to the sun.  So I suspect that protected from sun and moisture, it would probably do the job.

Kathleen
 
                            
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paul wheaton wrote:
A plastic felt. 

FYI:  I just got back from Mike's place.  Lots and lots to say - but I gotta catch up on a few things first ...



So I'm curious, what did Mike have to say about the usage of news paper? 
 
                        
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There were a number of observatory roofs made of paper with a patent issued in 1881 .
http://kcupery.home.isp-direct.com/dome.html   I would venture to guess that having the paper exposed to the air so it could dry out might be important, although with the plastic below it it might be fine even so.
From the description of the paper used it seems to be more like cardboard than paper..3/8th to 1/2 inch thick..but then it didn't have the stability of a solid structure to rest on. The other thing is that it had a much higher  (and longer) fiber content thatn paper does now.  Not sure how much difference that would make to what you are doing as  what you're doing wouldn't seem to require the paper to have any sort of strength.

According to the site, other domes were built using paper mache. So using paper would seem to be historically valididated, if not in quite the same form as you are planning.

The other thing is that layers of paper are quite insulating when they are thick enough.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Here's a crazy idea, inspired by science:

For layer #4, collect some standing-dead wild mustard, thresh it, and mill the seeds into a flour, which is then (carefully! it can blind you) dusted between the layers of newspaper.

Then, if the newspaper does happen to get wet, it is immediately treated with a strong antimicrobial agent. Also, the thickening properties of the ground up seeds will help it to seal together into an impermeable layer.

The mustard powder will also tend to keep larger things, like insects, out of the paper.

By the way, wild mustard tends to be stronger than the tame stuff.
 
travis laduke
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can't you just use 13 feet of dirt. or have pigs walk on the bottom layer of your 13 feet of dirt
 
Paul Cereghino
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With the labor going into roof work it seems like you either want very easy installation or durability.  If you are going for a earthen roof, I bet you'd want durability, since there is nothing easy about roofing with earth.

As I read this thread... I was thinking "What about going to thatch?!"
 
                        
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Joel Hollingsworth wrote:
Here's a crazy idea, inspired by science:

For layer #4, collect some standing-dead wild mustard, thresh it, and mill the seeds into a flour, which is then (carefully! it can blind you) dusted between the layers of newspaper.

Then, if the newspaper does happen to get wet, it is immediately treated with a strong antimicrobial agent. Also, the thickening properties of the ground up seeds will help it to seal together into an impermeable layer.

The mustard powder will also tend to keep larger things, like insects, out of the paper.

By the way, wild mustard tends to be stronger than the tame stuff.
Joel:   has mustard flour been used in this sort of way before? I tried to look it up but couldn't get past a trillion food related sites. It piqued my curiosity because of the fairly new discovery that sticky rice was a major ingredient in the building of very old chinese temples roads, bridges etc. one of which  is still so strong that apparently  it was impossible for a bulldozer to deal with it. It would be good to know if there was something which had the same sort of potential that can be grown in our climate.Sorry this is off topic wasn't sure how to address the question if I started another thread.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Pam wrote:
Joel:   has mustard flour been used in this sort of way before? I tried to look it up but couldn't get past a trillion food related sites.


I'm not aware of it having been used in exactly this way.

Allyl isothiocyanate (volatile oil of mustard) is the reason that most recipes of mustard sauce never spoil, and also seems to play a major role in the use of mustard as a traditional medicine. Mustard powder contains a two-part mix (kept separate in whole seeds) that releases this chemical when wet.

I had seen passing mention of sticky rice mortar, and at your suggestion, I looked it up. It works much differently: the sticky rice is a minor additive in the wet masonry, and seems to function by altering the way that the mortar cures. It interferes with the growth of largest crystals in the mortar, resulting in a cured mortar made of smaller crystals of calcium carbonate. These small crystals improve toughness, for the same reason that flint is tougher than rock crystal.
 
                                                
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linseed oil?
pine tar?
 
Paul Overton
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Paul, have you built anything with your wofati ideas?
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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