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Pallets inside Cob?  RSS feed

 
Carly Murawsky
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Hello,

My partner and I are planning on building a cob home. He has the idea of putting pallets inside the cob walls, not as structural support, but just to help the drying time and to give a frame to the wall (I think he thinks that it would be good of the cob can 'stick to' something, and that it would make building time quicker). However, I've heard that putting wood inside cob may not be a good idea.

We still need to thoroughly read through the Cob Builders Handbook and The Handsculpted House, but if we could plan right now to either go with pallets or not, that would be great.

Thank you!
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Carly,

In the world of Adobe, (Cob) you have to major types. Solid adobe walls that are contiguous to themselves and "Cobbling" of "Cob" which is best describe as an infill method for a frame structure; normally a timber frame. In recent times there have been books published about "Cob Houses" and there are a number of them. I have read quite a few and many seem to be by folks that are living an experiment of sorts in adobe architecture, not that many of their facts aren't correct, they just haven't all done the historical research they could have, but that has more to do with semantics, than false information.

Could you build a house with pallets and cob, absolutely. Could you/should you just put pallets inside a contiguous cob wall, absolutely not!!! The pallets need to have either been used as some form of structural "wattle" and/or built as a frame work of thick walls that the cob will go between.

Regards,

Jay
 
Carly Murawsky
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Interesting, Jay, thank you! It seems I need to look more into 'wattle and daub' if I want to use pallets, as for a cob home pallets aren't a good idea? Very good information, thanks again.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Carly,

Just so I'm clear, if you get enough pallets of a standard size and condition to design a structured wall from those pallets and then infill with "cob," you could use pallets to build a home, or take pallets apart to use the material they contain in some traditional building method that involves "cob." In any case, when it come to recycling materials, often what seems like a good idea, often is not the case. when all the different facets are considered.

Regards,

jay
 
Izzy Vale
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Jay C. White Cloud wrote:Hi Carly,

Just so I'm clear, if you get enough pallets of a standard size and condition to design a structured wall from those pallets and then infill with "cob," you could use pallets to build a home, or take pallets apart to use the material they contain in some traditional building method that involves "cob." In any case, when it come to recycling materials, often what seems like a good idea, often is not the case. when all the different facets are considered.

Regards,

jay


I agree with that. People have definitely used pallets for a timber frame before, and it can be done. Taking pallets apart is not an easy task, and generally destroys quite a bit of the lumber. If you are using it for a timber frame, then you have to consider if they are going to be part of the load bearing structure, and frame it accordingly. Other than a wattle and daub type setting, it almost seems like more work than benefit to use pallets in cob walls, though they might work well for a slip straw kind of application. You might actually be more interested in cordwood cobbing, or something like that, if you are trying to increase the speed of construction without sacrificing structural integrity. Cob doesn't really need a frame to stick to, it is the frame so to speak, and you 'knead' it together, so each little cob loaf it woven into the rest and 'sticks' to the other ones.
 
Carly Murawsky
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Thanks Jay and Izzy!

It makes sense to me that pallets would not be very helpful in building a cob home. I'm glad I can show him this and say "I told you so."

The cordwood constructions looks interesting, and also very aesthetically attractive (IMO). I haven't researched it much at all, but it seems that it would be a lot quicker than cob. Is the only disadvantage vs. cob that it would be difficult if you don't have access to logs?

Thanks again,

Carly
 
Kate Nudd
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Carly,Hi
I wanted to add a couple of pictures.
The Fuddy...a pallet and clayslipnstraw filled building with cob/earthen plaster in California( they used it for roof insulation as well)
and a cob/cordwood example in BC
All the best
Kate
fuddy-b4-windows-300x199.jpg
[Thumbnail for fuddy-b4-windows-300x199.jpg]
fuddy-outside-300x225.jpg
[Thumbnail for fuddy-outside-300x225.jpg]
untitled.png
[Thumbnail for untitled.png]
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Carly,

Kate's photos are a perfect example of how a "slip wall" or "infill wall," works. If you can get a fare amount of serviceable pallets, this is what the finished product could look like. Questions you must ask:

Is it 'recycle if I'm using new or bought pallets, or transporting material a long distance by manpower/machine?

Would it be quicker to buy locally harvested rough lumber than transporting and making pallets work, where boards and beams would be better?

Are the use of pallets making the job easier in labor and design or harder, both fiscal, mental, and physical?

There are cases, where a "pallet infill wall" would work well, they aren't that common a circumstance, please share why your partner thinks they are?

Regards,

Jay
 
Carly Murawsky
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Hi Jay,

To be honest, my partner doesn't really have a reason why he thinks that pallets are the better idea. He doesn't know much about cob construction and just assumed that cob would need something to 'stick' to, to give in shape or something. He also thought it would dry faster. I told him that you all said it might not be the way to go and he was fine with that. I've never head of slip straw construction, so I'll have to look more into that.

Thanks, Kate, for the photos! I'm going to check out more info about that home.

Carly
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Carly,

When you folks have a clearer vision of what to build, (and where is very important!) don't hesitate to ask more questions. I timber frame in Asian styles most of the time and only work through brokers (here is one of my brokers: http://www.antiquebarns.net/minka.htm )and through personal introductions, it's old fashioned but I like that. I'm a bit of a luddite and don't even have a cell phone, (unless a client demands it and then I only use limited access ones.) I spend a lot of time doing "pro-bono" work for folks like you in a consulting capacity, so don't feel like you are asking to many questions. The more time you take with your project the better the outcome. You may wonder why, spend time with folks like you, the answer is easy, I teach as much as I build and all my better clients have come this way. So in closing, keep reading, keep asking questions, and if you would like, you may email me directly, my contact info is in my profile.

Regards,

Jay
 
Charles Cundiff
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I don't know if this forum is still open. I had a similar idea about using cob and pallets for a small green house. Jay answered most of my questions, but I wonder what he would think about pallets on the outside of a cob wall, stuffed with straw, sticks, or plastic trash, for insulation, and then covered with daub.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Location: Fraser Headwaters, B.C., Zone3, Latitude 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
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Hi Charles; sounds like it might work. So, just to be clear, you have a cob greenhouse, and are going to build a pallet wall against the cob, and then cover the outer pallets in daub. Is that right?

I think the main point that Jay C is making with the using of pallets is that they can be used to make a wall, but that this wall needs to be a self supporting structure, connected to the frame to ensure it's stability.

Be sure to have a good overhang on your roof so that the exterior daub layer is not going to get wet. By keeping it dry, you limit the potential of your insulating infill material to get moisture problems. Putting final slips that includes a more waterproofing membrane than straight cob, will also help. This would be on both sides of your wall once the cob has dried. The cob in the greenhouse should be dry before you put the pallets against it, as well, to avoid moisture/wood contact, although it is less of an issue, if the moisture contact is short term.

To reiterate what Jay C said about using pallets: It might not be cost/time effective to use pallets if you can find reasonably priced, or locally available as scrap or salvage, or on you land, poles and lumber to build a wall that you infill with your matrix of straw and... whatever.

Make sure that whatever you put in the wall is not smelly (even a bit) plastic trash, or full of any thing that might attract insects. Borax, or mineral lime (use gloves and mask), could be added as a dusting in this cavity, or mixed with the material in a wheelbarrow or on a tarp before stuffing into the cavity. This will help to discourage insect activity.
 
Kevin Berwin
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Wow - this is my first time at this forum and I already see a lot of creative ideas, I would never though of this myself
 
Roberto pokachinni
pollinator
Posts: 1220
Location: Fraser Headwaters, B.C., Zone3, Latitude 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
78
bike books food preservation forest garden fungi hugelkultur solar trees woodworking
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Welcome to Permies Kevin! There is indeed a lot of very creative people here, and you can search or navigate for whatever you want to find out about. Explore. Enjoy. Ask.
 
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