Earthbag Building in the Humid Tropics

Earthbag Building in the Humid Tropics: Simple Instructions by Patti Stouter is a 27-page, step-by-step PDF guide to building with earthbags in these demanding climates. It is well thought out, quite informative, and useful as a basic introduction to the concept of building with earthbags.

She begins with a general introduction, and then moves on to a discussion of stabilizing earth as a construction material and the use of earthen plasters. She points out that “small houses can easily be built strong enough without cement or bitumen. Tests have shown that a careful balancing of the range of particle sizes in a soil may improve strength more than added cement.  Earthbag walls seldom need additives to give extra stability.”


The step-by-step description covers: soil tests, materials, layouts, footings, laying bags, base courses, openings, bond beams, roofs, floors, and finishes. Patti puts forth some general principles for earthbag building in humid climates:

➔ Use as much lightweight gravel as you can afford for cooler, less sweaty buildings.
➔ Use as little wood or metal as possible, to avoid rot and termites.
➔ Use plan layouts that are stable, with curves or frequent piers or buttresses.
➔ Make sure rainwater flows away from the bases of all walls.
➔ Use a vapor barrier below the floor and between any concrete and earth.
➔ Provide a waterproof base course at least 60 cm high.
➔ Criss-cross bag courses at piers and corners.
➔ Provide wide roof overhangs (1.5 m is good).
➔ Test exterior finishes for performance.

5 thoughts on “Earthbag Building in the Humid Tropics”

  1. Hello,
    How are you? I would like to be pointed to types of affordable designs available to withstand the climate changes occurring particularly for the purpose of constructing a small home in Puerto Rico.


  2. Hi is this structure fit to withstand hurricanes and earthquakes occurring in Puerto Rico since I would like to build a small affordable home?

    • Earthbag homes are actually very well suited for earthquakes, and if built in dome shapes they can be resistant to high winds of hurricanes, because wind can go around the curved structure more easily and its very self supporting with shaking ground.


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