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Protecting non plastered bale walls for winter

 
Dave Keck
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So I've made some progress on the Strawbale house. The bales are in but it looks like the weather is going to be too cold to plaster. My plan was to put a lime plaster on it but I've been informed that freezing weather will ruin the plaster if there is moisture still in it. My question is how should I protect the bale walls through the winter? The good thing is that a have a covered porch all the way around that gives me a 6' overhang over an 8' wall. The rain would have to be blown pretty hard to hit the walls. I'm mostly worried about rodents trying to move in but also weathering of the walls. Any ideas are appreciated. Also I may stay in it and finish the inside through the winter so id be operating a wood stove to keep warm. I'm also concerned about burning the place down because the unplastered bales are very flammable id imagine
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Dave Keck
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Looks like I will be wrapping the bales with tyvek. I read that Andrew Morrison from Strawbale.com recommends this. I was going to use builders plastic but tyvek should let the water vapor escape. My other concern is with my lime putty freezing. Does anyone have experience with lime putty that has frozen? From what I've read the putty is ruined by letting it freeze.
 
Christopher Steen
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As for frozen putty: http://www.preservationscience.com/materials/lime/FL.html
I've had similar results to that link. However I now hit it with a paddle bit a few minutes each week and keep my barrels outside in scrap 6 mil/solex to promote freeze thaw. That helps avoid the 6 month frozen barrel of curd doom.

As for overwintering your bales:
Sweep out all that chaff inside and out. Its the loose stuff that ignites quick.
Run your stove without burning down the joint. Get good fire extinguishers rated to appropriately low temps.
Its really only rain/snow sitting on the grain ends that soak a bale not moisture along the grain. Obviously environment dependent. Your overhangs are super deep no driving rain worries. You could wrap that porch in 6 mil, billboard tarp, scrap whatev, lumber yard tarps, free scrappy extra bales, etc etc-- and the hot tent your plaster. Seems I hot tent something every year and I don't have the pleasure of eaves like you do.
Lime takes time. Prob best to not rush the outside. But some old 6 mil porch wrapping will help keep you warmer if you work the inside the winter since unplastered bales let the winter blow thru.
Also, with 6' overhangs I'd like to say that you are a good candidate for exterior earthen plaster If you want... If you did, you could spray a thin slip coat to seal them off if tented and you wanted. No use floating the outside till spring--winter is for finishing inside spaces.
Did you lay grain up or out? Where are you?
 
dan simon
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So some personal observations.
1. My bales were exposed outside with only 3 ft eaves for over 12 months. They took no damage. They did not get wet either.
2. The only part about them being exposed is the let the wind through. It was chilly.
3. Lime is not ruined if it freezes. All one would have to do is remix it when it warmed back up. Consider the lime cycle and what it takes for lime to move through each phase of the cycle. If it is not exposed to co2 and heat so as to calcify then it is usable for years if left as wet putty. it takes a very long time to move from hydrated lime into calcium or chalk. And freezing is not a part of the process. Thats why lime is a superior material in this aplication.
4 it would do wonders for your house to put at least 1 coat of plaster on the walls. The first coat will take quite some time to dry out and will crack a lot. The next coat will dry much faster and wont crack or will very little.
 
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