I've just learned a little about a building method called papercrete whereby newspaper is shredded and mixed with minimal cement, water, and ash to produce strong, ultra-light, and high R-value building blocks in a most interesting, affordable, and simple way.
If you want to understand the basics of this method, do a keyword search "papercrete" on youtube.com and watch some of the videos available there.
I have many questions about using this technique, especially about using it in a colder, wetter, and more humid climate than the American Southwest.
Would any of you also want to discuss this method of construction in a forum named Papercrete?
Well, I'll put a flag on this topic, because it's interesting stuff that I have played around with. As with all materials, it has its good points and its bad points. Where are you and what do you want to do with it?
I looked hard at papercrete at one time. It is very interesting to me still if I had access to a waste stream. I think the methods could be used as an insulation or in-fill of a timberframe instead of strawbales.
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posted 6 years ago
I'm in the Northeast.
Mostly, I'm concerned about mold and rotting but I've read that it's possible to add lime to the papercrete mix to prevent these.
For many years I was a keen advocate of earthships but with the advent of the rocket stove mass heater (and the outrageous cost of Biotecture's products and services), I've become more interested in other, more affordable techniques such as straw bales and now papercrete.
Is papercrete viable in the Northeast?
Why yes and why no?
posted 6 years ago
It could be viable. The reason that things mold and rot is because they get wet. Wet stuff that fungi can live on will eventually succumb to the digestive action of the fungi. In the case of papercrete, the bits of cellulose distributed amongst the bulk solid are still available to fungal degradation if they contain enough moisture. Even if you have a lot of lime in the mix, repeated soakings will gradually leach out the lime, and the less lime there is, the more conducive to fungal action.
If this gives you the idea that you will need to keep the papercrete dry, then you are ahead of me as I was just about to say that papercrete is in the same category as papier-mache, OSB, and particle board --keep it dry and it will be fine; let it get repeatedly soaked through, and soon it will be filled with black Stachybotris mold eating away at it.
But papercrete should be easy to cover with something impervious. It has a rough surface texture so that a more waterproof layer of stucco or plaster can go over it and then the whole thing is ready to be exposed to the elements.
And any building benefits from "big boots and a hat" - make your roof overhang nice and wide so blown water doesn't strike your walls and you'll be making a good start. I'm looking to retrofit some external insulation to the walls of our single skin stone construction home. The limiting factor seems to be whether the existing roof overhang is sufficient.
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