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Questions about stained glass bottle bricks for cordwood walls

 
Sarah Houlihan
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Location: Central Maine
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I plan to start building my cordwood house in a few weeks.  I would like to incorporate a 2-3 foot tall section of bottle bricks the length of the South facing wall.  Kind of like a long skinny mural.
My concerns are:
Can I build a section of bottle bricks 3' x 45' with ruining the structural integrity of the building?

My walls will be about 18' thick.  We live in Central Maine.  Beer bottles can provide about 5" of length when the tops are cut off to make the bricks.  Two bricks, are then 10" long.  Is there a way to extend the 8 inches without buying metal flashing?  I can't really spend all that extra money, especially if I can just connect the bottles with tinfoil (for reflecting the light) and cardboard.

Any thoughts?
 
Bryant RedHawk
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The length would not be a problem as long as there is a wood span above the "mural window", that one beam will need to be stout enough to hold up the entire weight of the roof for it to work.
In most mural windows there are at least two breaks (for structural vertical beams). The best way to address this issue would be with a structural engineer who knows all the math that needs to be used to make sure your house remains standing for a long time to come.

as far as the bottles go, I don't see a real problem with using tin foil as long as you use multiple layers with an adhesive between layers to give some resistance strength to it.
 
Sarah Houlihan
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We will be building a timber frame, so the roof won't need to be supported by the mural wall.  I didn't even think of that providing plenty of support.  I do also like the idea for breaks between sections.  I will have places where walls cross perpendicular to the mural wall, so I can just use cordwood pieces between where the walls will attach.  Won't need windows there anyways.  
Thanks for the idea!
 
Kris Johnson
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Location: Pahrump NV
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This bottle house is over 100 years old, your idea should work fine.

To get your 18" bottle brick just cut the top and bottom of 2 more bottles to 4" and duct tape them together, now you have an 8" bottle cylinder, then duct tape the other 2 bottles with just the tops cut off that are 5" to either end of your 8" bottle cylinder, voila 18" bottle brick. Wrap whole bottle brick in tin foil.
rhyolite-bottle-house.jpg
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Kris Johnson
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Location: Pahrump NV
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I like pictures and bottle houses!
calico-bottle-house.jpg
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rhyolite-bottle-house-construction.jpg
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bottle-wall.jpg
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front-porch-bottle-house.jpg
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Mark Deichmann
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You can make the mural wall a single bottle thick , since your structure is good anyway, and the bottles mortared up using the same mortar you use for you stackwood will be just as strong or stronger than the wood. Glass is more like stone than wood is.

You should also consider using wine bottles , like the old timers did with the bottom out which helps magnify the light into the room . No foil or cardboard needed.

Chris's photos are a good reference. The right way to build with bottles .

Its like when we use glass block.

Important note :  Glass is non porous so your mortar will need to be only damp( like soil)  and not as wet as you likely use for your highly absorbant cord wood.  Glass is tricky to lay up due to the fact it dries slowly.

I don 't know what type of mortar you are using otherwise , but a portland based mortar will dry faster and cause you less problems with the glass than will a masonry cement type mortar. And , like I said , watch the wetness of the mortar , or it will run and you will loose control of the glass.

CHeers,
Mark the mason( in New Brunswick , just north of Maine)
SANY0140.JPG
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Granite is like glass and requires a fairly dry mortar ( portland and sand)
 
Mark Deichmann
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Location: Maritimes , Eastern Canada
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Just wanted to add photo of glass block I did showing how it is thinner than surrounding block and stucco wall, recessing a field of glass like this makes it a true accent and protects it from the weather.

The block is laid up with portland cement and sand 1:3 standard mix. Finish with sponge and buff glass after drying with paper towel ! Same would apply to bottles.
SANY0698.JPG
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recessing glass block in masonry wall
 
Sarah Houlihan
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Posts: 128
Location: Central Maine
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Good points with the pictures, I should have no problem getting done what I need to accomplish.  I also like the idea of using extra bottles to get the length.  The wine bottles will be used for a lot of the project, but I was just hoping to be able to use beer bottles to haave some brown for the mural.  I certainly have collected enough beer bottles that it would be a waste not to use them.  I also have quite a few blue beer bottles.  
I plan to use cob to make the mortar.  My entire lot in Maine is rock and clay.  The sand clay ratio is almost perfect for building, so again, it woul seem a huge waste not to do cob.  The outer layer may be a different mix to seal the house in, as it does rain a lot here.  
I don't quite understand what you mean about making the walls thinner around the glass?  My understanding is I need to keep the walls uniform for the insulation and mass to warm the place.  Does this matter?
Thank again for then help!  Every bit of advice will make my house even better!
 
Lisa Mich
Posts: 7
Location: Northern California, zone 8b
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Hi. Did you build your wall?
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