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hyper wattle questions - (light straw clay tubes)  RSS feed

 
Susana Smith
Posts: 32
Location: northern VT
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Anyone familiar with hyper wattle? I had settled on strawbale as the best solution for my house, for its insulation value (because it gets cold in northern VT, and I'm NOT interested in SIP's), but the hyper wattle sounds appealing. The wattles would be more suited to my strength, and sourcing straw might be less demanding ie I assume I could use straw from round bales. I'm wary of a building method that is so new that there is not a lot of documentation available, no reports of successes and failures, step-by-step for novices, problem-solving guides, do's & don'ts, nor a pool of experienced experts for problem consultation. Still, wattle and daub as a general method has been around for a long time, it's just the plastic mesh part that's new (and maybe putting clay inside the wattles?), so I'm inclined to go with it anyway. But I do have a few questions:
-- The info I've seen says that it's for regions without snow, but they're talking about load-bearing walls, and I'd be using it as infill -- I assume that's okay even in a high-snow area, but I want to be 100% sure (maybe there's a few things about construction that I don't know, so my assumptions could be way off :-).
--Insulation value cited was R-3. Is this total, or per inch?
--Any comments or suggestions are welcome.

Thanks for any responses.
 
Mick Fisch
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I had never heard of hyper wattle before, so I googled it. I think it could work. Since you are talking about using it for infill, you could probably stiffen it by corsetting it between light poles that connect, or at least butt against your wooden structure. I'm pretty sure that would give you a much stiffer wall and allow you to infill larger areas between major wooden supports. It would also automatically help keep the wall straight and would not be too much work. Of course the wall is going to be thinner than straw bale, with less insulation. This system looks totally doable by those of us not cursed with an overabundance of muscle mass.

The clay slip will make the straw much less flammable and the straw will be permanently encased in fairly thick, flameproof coating.

I have a brief story about stray insulation. I was an airforce brat and my dad was stationed in Germany during the mid sixties. We were living off base in an old two story house (only heat was in the kitchen). Anyway, my brothers and I were acting like little barbarians fighting and wrestling in a bedroom and accidently knocked a good sized hole in the plaster wall. Behind the plaster (mayby an inch or so thick) was clean, bright, yellow straw, packed tight. I don't know how old the house was, but the electric wiring was outside of the plaster, (in painted conduit I think). Seemed old to me at 9 years old. I remember, after my folks gave us hell for breaking the wall they stood there and discussed the insulating properties of straw, the flamability of straw, and how the plaster had protected the straw. I, of course, hovered in the background taking it all in. Seemed to me that my folks were impressed with the system and didn't seem to worry about the fire danger. The land lord came over and patched it. Maybe he had raised boys, because he didn't seem too upset about it. So I'm guessing that using straw as infill has been around for a while, and not always using a clay slip even (although I think the clay slip is a great idea for fire retardant).

I mixed fire retardant for a retardant bomber one summer years ago. Even if it dried after being dumped on the plants the layer of dried powder (we used fertilizer) had a definite made the materials much more flame resistant. Seems to me that the clay slip would would similarly, maybe better.
 
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