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Concrete Cloth

 
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I debated putting this somewhere in building, but decided here was more fitting for two reasons. First was that there wasn't really a category that quite fit it there and second was the fact that it isn't exclusive to creating buildings. I know this material can be a bit pricey, but it also has a lot of possible advantages for projects around the homestead. I could see a lot of value in having a way to quickly build concrete structures in 24 hours out of a material that starts out flexible. Does anyone have any experience with this material?
 
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Not sure what this stuff is, but the name reminds me of the two cabins I built in Georgia with old carpets stuccoed with cement. The result, with a little tweaking (mix the cement quite soupy, and wet the carpet with soapy water ahead of time to improve adhesion), is a rigid surface conforming to whatever shape the frame underneath is. The roof of the first cabin was framed in pine poles and bamboo, and had a deck of two thicknesses of cardboard and plastic under the carpets. I once had five people on that roof at once, and it never leaked, not in ten years. I began to refer to old carpets as the modern scrounger's equivalent of buffalo hide.....its flexible, durable, and so useful for so many things......
 
D. Logan
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It is sometimes also called concrete canvas. If you pull it up on youtube, they have a number of videos of how it can be bought as prefab buildings or some of it's other uses. One of the sites for it is located at http://concretecloth.milliken.com/Pages/home.aspx and details the basic nature of the stuff along with some of its usages. Sounds like the stuff you mention is a pretty solid home-made version of the same thing.
 
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PRICEY! You are paying a lot for the instant "just add water" convenience.

Google "George Nez flying roof hypar" for the DIY version.
 
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Alder Burns wrote:Not sure what this stuff is, but the name reminds me of the two cabins I built in Georgia with old carpets stuccoed with cement. The result, with a little tweaking (mix the cement quite soupy, and wet the carpet with soapy water ahead of time to improve adhesion), is a rigid surface conforming to whatever shape the frame underneath is.  The roof of the first cabin was framed in pine poles and bamboo, and had a deck of two thicknesses of cardboard and plastic under the carpets.  I once had five people on that roof at once, and it never leaked, not in ten years.    I began to refer to old carpets as the modern scrounger's equivalent of buffalo hide.....its flexible, durable, and so useful for so many things......



Sorry to bring up this old post, but I'm so intrigued with how you did it. I would assume any old carpeting would do. Did you use them just for the roof or for the sides as well? Did you stucco both sides of the carpet? Why did you use the cardboard and plastic?

thanks so much in advance!
 
Alder Burns
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@ Fred:  I mostly used short-nap carpet, just to save stucco since I wanted the fibers completely embedded.  If the carpet was new (as in scraps from a new install project) I would let it sit out in the weather for a while, new carpet often has a water-repellent coating that I wanted to wear off.  Usually I would attach the carpet to the frame dry and then stucco it, so only the outer, nap surface was stuccoed.  I did play around with the idea of making square "shingles" stuccoed on both sides ahead of time but decided just using large pieces direct would be a lot quicker. The cardboard and plastic added additional strength to the roof, especially as I needed to be up on it in order to apply the stucco, and served for more waterproofing, in case moisture seeped through the carpet, as well as some insulation from the airspaces in the cardboard.  Mostly it was an experiment in creating fairly quick, durable housing for free.  The cement in the stucco for the roof was one of the few purchased inputs.  Since the walls were under a two-foot overhang, I used a mud stucco on these (two or three coats of a clay-sand mix), with a thin wash of cement mixed with water and paint for color applied over the top with a brush.
 
Fred Jacobs
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Alder Burns wrote:@ Fred:  I mostly used short-nap carpet, just to save stucco since I wanted the fibers completely embedded.  If the carpet was new (as in scraps from a new install project) I would let it sit out in the weather for a while, new carpet often has a water-repellent coating that I wanted to wear off.  Usually I would attach the carpet to the frame dry and then stucco it, so only the outer, nap surface was stuccoed.  I did play around with the idea of making square "shingles" stuccoed on both sides ahead of time but decided just using large pieces direct would be a lot quicker. The cardboard and plastic added additional strength to the roof, especially as I needed to be up on it in order to apply the stucco, and served for more waterproofing, in case moisture seeped through the carpet, as well as some insulation from the airspaces in the cardboard.  Mostly it was an experiment in creating fairly quick, durable housing for free.  The cement in the stucco for the roof was one of the few purchased inputs.  Since the walls were under a two-foot overhang, I used a mud stucco on these (two or three coats of a clay-sand mix), with a thin wash of cement mixed with water and paint for color applied over the top with a brush.



thanks so much for the additional details. I think this is such a unique idea to use carpet, either old or new.
 
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WOW!  might you have pictures of your cabins? I don't quite understand what you did?




Thanks

jack g
 
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Could the concrete be applied to the carpet a little at a time, or does each piece need to be covered completely in one go?
 
Alder Burns
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@ Jack....I did take very detailed photos and put them into a scrapbook, but this was before I had a digital camera or a computer on site, and since then I haven't gotten around to the big project of scanning them, etc.  It's really pretty straightforward....just get the carpet wet ahead of time and slather it on with rubber gloves and a trowel.  Keep a tray under any vertical surface since quite a bit will fall off and you can then re-apply it easily.  
@Ellendra As I recall I tried to coat at least one whole piece in a session, probably just because mixing the concrete and all is a big project and a mess, so it seemed worth doing a lot each time; but I don't see any other reason why one couldn't do less than that.
 
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This reminds me of latex concrete roofing.  I built a small shed roof as a test that has remained solid and water-tight for 10 years.  Also been very useful in sealing up odd holes in cabins, sheds and house underpinning.  Essentially, a couple layers of fiberglass flyscreen or burlap or decent shadecloth -some carpeting would surely also work, slathered in latex milk/portland cement mixture followed by more of the same with one part sand added.  Have also substituted bargain store, quality exterior latex/acrylic paint for the latex bonding agent.  Intend to use it on a larger scale when again in need of a roof.  
 
Ellendra Nauriel
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Alder Burns wrote:
@Ellendra As I recall I tried to coat at least one whole piece in a session, probably just because mixing the concrete and all is a big project and a mess, so it seemed worth doing a lot each time; but I don't see any other reason why one couldn't do less than that.



Awesome!

I have health problems that mean anything I do has to be divided into small bites. I've been looking for a building technique I could do without needing an assistant. Between this, the thread on charcoal-crete, and John's tip about adding latex to the concrete, I think we might have a winner!!!

(Latex makes it waterproof, charcoal replaces the sand and makes it insulative.)
 
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