I have been doing some further research into sources and qualities of mesh tubing that would be suitable for hyperadobe style earthbag construction. I feel that this innovation has so much merit that it should be pursued on several fronts, from further experimentation and documentation to eventual testing , engineering studies and code approval.
Of the several manufacturers of the mesh tubing that I have contacted, one in Canada has been most responsive, recognizing the enormous potential the technique has in the sustainable construction industry. This company is Syfilco Ltd. in Exeter, Ontario. They have provided me with samples of several of their products that might have some application, and indeed I think that they do.
The mesh tubing pictured above measures about 18″ when stretched out with my hands inside, and would tamp down to about 5″ I’m guessing. When stretched this way, the actual length decreases by about 1/3, so it might take 3′ feet of material to be the equivalent of a 2′ solid poly bag. They have a similar mesh that measures about 10″ across when stretched, and this might be especially useful for filling with an insulating material (recycled styrofoam?) to add as an outer layer.
The material used to manufacture this tubing is high density polyethylene (HDPE) that has been UV protected (and since the sample is black, this would add to its resistance to UV deterioration). This tubing is generally used as a debris boom for erosion control. The tubes are filled with various types of material depending on what the use is and placed on the ground to contain or filter water flow or bank reconstruction etc. It clearly has to be very tough for this application.
In fact Syfilco has run some tensile strength tests on the larger tubing material and determined that can withstand about 1250 lbs of pulling before it might break. That is more force than you would ever expect to be placed on any individual tube, even during an earthquake. If you consider that any given wall would be comprised of many interconnected tubes, and all it would take is three or four courses to be able to tow an ordinary automobile, you can get an idea of how strong this system might be.
Engineer Nabil Taha, of Precision Engineering, says, “The strength of earthbag building come from a good mix of the soil not from the bags themselves. The bags are important before the soil hardens, but after that, it is the soil that does the work.”
Nabil agrees that the mesh tubing will have many advantages over the solid poly bags, including that the barbed wire can be dispensed with, the plaster will have better attachment to the wall, and most importantly, the entire building will be more monolithic.
In evaluating the materials costs involved, I think that the hyperadobe system stacks up very well. Syfilco says the larger width material will be about $0.15 per ft. and it comes on 2000 or 2500′ per roll, so you can figure between $300 and $375 per roll. That is enough tubing to build an entire house, and you wouldn’t need to purchase barbed wire or plaster mesh, so there would be considerable saving compared to more conventional earthbag building.
By the way, Syfilco is a manufacturer and deals only with wholesale orders of skid lots, so it may be necessary to arrange to purchase their materials through a retail distributor. I will let you know via this blog if and when such a distribution outlet is established.
83 thoughts on “Mesh Tubing for Hyperadobe”
I have 16 rolls of Hyper Adobe mesh each roll is 16″ x 1,640′ long a total of 26,240′.
I live in Missouri an asking $3,500 for them all. I can meet in West Plains MO if anyoneis interested.
Forgot to mention I got these rolls from Volm Companies in WI.
Hi all, what a great conversation this is, thank you ? . I’m about to start a project on the Oaxacan coast, Mexico to build two small hyperadobe structures. I’m currently in the UK trying to source hyperadobe continuous tube over there and can’t find a supplier at all, if anyone has, ideally a Mexico city supplier contact could you please let me know or failing that any supplier in Mexico. Huge thanks , Sarah
Hi, I’m a builder just like you all, and I’ve sourced A LOT of Hyperadobe rolls and am offering them for less than anyone else. It’s been a headache to sell these online, and I’ve only lost money trying to advertise with google and start a website and e-commerce solutions. I just want to offload them. visit https://www.Down2EarthAdobe.us to get yours for $100 off per roll.
Hi Lachlan, can you ship to Mazunte, Oaxaca, Mexico and if so could you quote me shipping costs and time please? Many thanks . Sarah
Sarah, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will quote you.
Hi from Berlin, Germany! Maybe I can relieve you a bit!? A LOT sounds like… well, how many rolls would it be worth for you to undertake the extra mile to get the shipping organized? Looking forward to your offer regarding amount of material/cost and time of shipping over,
cheers from Barbara
Lacklan, do you still have them?
I’ll take 2.
I too love the hyperadobe method from the first time I saw it. I am planning to build an earth home in Jamaica very soon and I would love to use this method. I would be interested in being one of those persons who purchase the mesh bags from a central distributor in the states. I like the idea of the monolithic structure that it creates using the hyperadobe method. I would also use the barbed wire for extra strength.
You’ll probably have to buy the tubes online and have them shipped in. Or bring with you on an airplane on your next trip.
We’re working on a hurricane resistant housing project on St. Martin (early planning stage, no news yet). We know of at least two examples in the area that have withstood hurricanes and we’re trying for gov approval. See the Sand Castle article here on our blog.
I have been studying your YouTube videos and purchasing your book today. I am very interested in the mesh bags. I would like to know if I can use this in dome earthbag building?
I am in Pittsburgh. Trying to get everything correct before I start. I’ve been searching the web for anyone else building earthbag homes here or workshops in the general area. Building codes etc. I plan to be a studio in my backyard.
Yes, you can use mesh bags/tubes for domes. I recommend roofed structures in your climate. Domes are for deserts.
Is it because of the weather (rain/snow)? I just love the thought of having a plastic dome on top so I can see stars from my loft.
A dome skylight is fine. But a dome roof will get water/snow damage. Water will eventually get into tiny cracks that develop over time, then the water will freeze and expand and burst the plaster. We’ve covered this many, many times.
Wow! Thank you. I will need to rethink my design.
Search our blog for roofed domes. You can simply add a roof on top.
How do I calculate how much linear feet of roll hyperadobe mesh I need
Just use basic math. Figure out the total wall length. Decide on a wall height such as 8′. Divide 8′ by 5″ which is the typical thickness of each course of earthbags. (Be careful not to mix up inches and feet measurements.) This will give you the total number of courses of earthbags. Then multiply this number times the total wall length. Do not deduct for windows and doors unless you have a big window wall.
Thank you very much also does anyone have suggestions for plumbing and electricity, i.e. Breaker box and then branching out from there on how to incorporate the both of these into the wall structure?
Search our blog for electrical. 99% is the same as any other house. Run the wire in the recess between courses of bags. Embed anchors for attaching boxes. Run most or all plumbing and electric in interior walls. Easy. More details in my Earthbag ebook. See link on right side of page.
If someone were to want to establish a distributorship in mid missouri to source out and import the mesh tubing that is needed for this process would people prefer to shop inside the US to make the process more streamline and faster?
Shipping is a major part of the final cost. So yes, if you can reduce the cost with a centralized US warehouse then your plan might catch on. Tip: web traffic to Earthbag Building.com has recently nearly doubled. Other big news coming this year.
I would definitely be very interested in purchasing at least 2500ft to start. I have many projects lined up.
I DEFINITELY would be interested. I have been following Owen Geiger for quite some time now. I haven’t started yet because of the cost of bags. I missed out on an EXCELLENT opportunity for clay, a construction one block away, I count at least 15 trucks hauling dirt/clay.
There will likely be another excavation job in your area before long. Now you know what to look for. Have them dump it exactly where you’ll need it to save labor.
What is the opening size required for Hyperadobe? I found a website glacieriv.com a company called Glacier Valley that is selling 14″ wide mesh tubing in a roll of 2500 ft for $44 and its only shipping from Wisconsin instead of Canada. all of this sounds good as long as the 1/4″ opening is not too much. please advise.
The openings on the mesh bags we use are 1/8″ x 1/4″. This size works perfectly. Larger openings, say 1/4″x1/4″ may not work because the fill material (sub soil, road base, etc.) could fall out. The maximum opening size partly depends on your fill material. The only way to know for sure what works is to order a 3′ sample or one or two bags and test it out by making a sample earthbag. Fill it to capacity as I show in my free YouTube videos and pound on it really hard to see if the bag ruptures. Based on the price you’re quoting, this material is probably too weak and only designed for storing fruit and vegetables.
I think this is a brilliant concept, particularly for me and others like Khoisan, below, in developing countries where imported materials cost double what they cost in the country of manufacture.
Also look for recycled bags. They’re used for countless things now — rice, all kinds of grain and animal feed, … even ice. There could be companies or farmers nearby who buy things in bulk and have to dispose of all the empty bags. We’ve started buying mesh bags at the farmer’s market from people who sell limes. They sell to us for a few pennies per bag versus 30-50 cents per bag. So we’re recycling and saving money.
Don’t forget to look in the cities for used bags as well.
Cities are always a zone of mass consumption, even in poor countries.
There are probably many businesses within each city that use large numbers of bags of raw materials or large numbers of bags of produce. Always watch the waste stream. Get your friends to watch for bags showing up in the trash. Talk to the city trash collectors, and ask them who tends to throw away lots of bags.
The best situation would be to get bags directly from the point of first discard. There will be a much greater likelihood of consistent sizes, consistent storage out of sunlight (hopefully), and consistent supply.
A lesser option would be to cut a deal with the local trash collectors. They collect bags during their routes for you. However, it will be important to educate the collectors exactly what bags you will accept. Even still, you’ll probably still get inconsistent sizes and quality. However, even that can be worked around. It’s better than nothing.
All that said, I still would like to see someone create a design for a DIY plastic recycler/bag loom.
I’m going to throw an extremely bizarre thought out there for someone smarter than me to consider a way to pull it off.
How difficult would it be for someone to design a DIY bag/tube weaving loom/machine?
The original blog post here mentions that the mesh is made from HDPE plastic. That is simple milk jug plastic.
Imagine if a group somewhere were to design an open source hardware system, similar to the Open Source Ecology group, or perhaps in partnership with them, where an individual anywhere can download plans how to build such a system for making mesh tubing directly out of trash milk jugs.
I’m not talking about mass production of millions of bags. Ideally this could be a small machine that might fit on a single trailer. It could be towed to various areas and fed with the local trash milk jugs and recycles mesh tubing comes out the other end.
Imagine the impact something like that could have? Such Cottage Manufacturing could supply bag material using local resources and even be assisted by local unskilled labor at each site someone stops at to make mesh bags.
Yes, I know that this idea may be “out there” and “way outside the box” thinking. However, I don’t think the concept is so completely unreasonable as to be dismissed as impossible or impractical just out of reflex.
We’re not talking about making millions of bags. The speed of the machine need not be so fast that it can supply half a country with every bag it needs for every item of produce. We’re talking about smaller scale production.
Obviously it would be best if the trailer hauling this machine around could be powered completely off grid.
Imagine if the plans were available such that any reasonably capable craftsman or machine shop could build one of these looms to supply bags for remote under-served areas for building, and even for local farmers to package their produce.
Imagine how many people and families might be housed as a result of someone designing such a machine such that most anyone anywhere could built it with local materials.
Any mechanical engineers out there that might be willing to take on this challenge?
Any mechanical engineering students interested in a very useful thesis project?
Well, the most difficult part has already been designed and open sourced. A while back I saw a website where a machine that melts plastic and makes fiber won an award. The machine met the challenge of costing less than $50-$100. Anyone interested will have to search for it online. It seems to me weaving technology would be simpler, but I have no expertise in this area. A standard biodiesel engine could run everything.
And I might add that this same sort of thinking can be applied to all sorts of things. Complex machines and processes can be broken down into simpler components that are within the grasp of tradesmen and tinkerers.
The key to success would be to design the machine around parts that are cheap and universally available. Parts from old dead cars/trucks. Parts from old bicycles. Even make some parts out of wood where appropriate.
Avoid exotic parts that are difficult to find, especially in underdeveloped countries.
Design it such that a few photos and perhaps an online video can illustrate how to built it to anyone with mechanical fabrication aptitude.
This type of machine could become a huge game changer. No longer would people be bound by manufacturers that require bulk purchases of tones of bags. Shipping costs would disappear. Tariffs, import/export regulations, governmental controls of all kinds, and many other problems all melt away.
A local shop builds the machine, a local guy hitches it up to his pickup or SUV and hauls it around to the local communities. Local people bring their trash milk jugs and other HDPE plastics and take home bags for building or for packaging produce to sell.
After a day, or week, or after the local supply of milk jugs runs out, the guy hitches the machine back on his vehicle and drives to the next community to repeat the whole process.
No longer are earthbag builders dependent upon bag manufacturers.
Talk about freedom. People would become free to earthbag build using their own local resources and would not be dependent upon whether or not the guy running the bag shop in the city will take time out of his day to sell them a few bags.
In many ways, such a bag loom machine would be as powerful as owning your own small sawmill, owning your own rock quarry, owning your own brick kiln, or owning your own CEB machine.
What you say is true. And people are not limited to using HDPE plastic. Previous blog posts cover a range of natural fibers for bags such as hemp, jute, kenaf, linen and flax.
True, these materials are not as durable as plastic, but they don’t necessarily have to be. They are satisfactory for many projects. Use a soil mix that turns hard when dry and then the bag itself is less important. Read up on rammed earth. Earthbag is basically rammed earth in a bag, and rammed earth buildings have lasted thousands of years. See Ancient Rammed Earth Structures:
I live in Kenya and am trying to source raschel or leno tubing 45/50 cm flat suitable for hyperadobe. I do not see that width bags in use here and cannot yet find a supplier, so I guess they are not made here. Stephane, in a post below, mentions mesh bags for 25 kg onions in South Africa (RSA). Bags are usually made from tubing so they are possibly made in RSA (if they are not made there, then I doubt they are made in Africa). If they will happily hold 25 kg of onions they should be strong enough but the mesh sizing may be a problem.
I suggest you try to source there. If you are successful please post the supplier details here, or email me at email@example.com.
I have found many suppliers in China and India but they require a minimum order of 3 tonnes, very often 20 tonnes. At $2.25- 2.75 per kg ex-factory, those size orders are prohibitive and totally unnecessary quantity-wise. I personally would be very happy to buy a pallet of say 500 kg. I believe I should get 18 metres of 50 cm tube per kg, i.e 9,000 metres per 500 kg.
Owen, the supplier in Canada mentioned on this blog may be very expensive given the shipping costs from there to Southern and East Africa.
S/H bags are cheap. This points to them being made there.
What we in Africa and Asia need is a manufacturer or probably a distributor who is aware of the growing interest in hyperadobe building and will be willing to supply relatively small quantities to people like us, albeit at a bigger margin than the vegetable packer bulk buyers.
The number of posts on this blog attest to the potential.
Any suggestions there?
Keep trying. As far as I know every major city has bag suppliers and manufacturers.
Is there any known suppliers of raschel mesh rolls in africa. I am from Namibia.
What witdh mesh is ideally recommended?
Search for the blog post called Discount Mesh.
I plan to experiment the hyperadobe in South Africa.
THe supplier uses 3 types of mesh fabrics. What would you recommand?
1) knitted vegetable bags. They are mesh-like bags made from knitted high-density polyethylene (HDPE). Polyethylene is extremely tough and it needs to be: these bags can be rated to carry anything up to 25kg.
2) woven vegetable pockets: this type of bag features a simple weave. They are made of virgin polypropylene
3) woven circular bag which has a dense weave. It also features anti-UV treatment to extend their minimum life expectancy to three months.
Thanking you in advance,
It’s difficult to know without seeing the actual product. Nothing replaces getting some samples and making some test earthbags. Pound really hard with your tamper and see if the material bursts.
And be sure to read all the posts about raschel mesh. (Use that phrase in our blog search engine.) Study the photos and choose material that looks like the mesh we’re recommending.
I too live in Africa and so have to source mesh from the South East Asia, Middle East or Turkey.
Can anybody lay down a basic spec for the mesh. Both Raschel and Leno (whats the difference?)made from PE, don’t know whether that is LDPE or HDPE, or does it make any difference as the strength required is sufficient only to stand up to handling and tamping, from what I gather in this blog. If that is the case , cheapest should be best.
What size mesh holes required to hold a clay/earth/sand or quarry fines mix? I will say more about that in a separate post
Is there anything else I need to worry about?
I’m pretty sure everything you need is posted here on our blog. Use the built-in search engine using the words mesh, raschel mesh, and hyperadobe (one word at a time).
I live in Kenya, probably 1,500 mile away from you, but you are a neighbour!
Where are you sourcing from? Is there a supplier in South Africa?
I would appreciate any help you can give.
I’m loving the idea of hyperadobe! Any comments/ideas about the soil mix when using the mesh tubing? It sounds as if the bag contents can be more variable with this method. The soil where I’d like to build has a good amount of clay– it’s not rich enough for cob building but it could work for hyperadobe. And if I could literally scoop up the soil from my property and bag it, without having to import sand/soil/etc. to the site and without having to ‘process’ the soil (as in cobbing) that would be ideal, localized building!
Hyperadobe is one of the best ideas to ever come along. I totally love it. And I love how I can get mesh bags where I live at 1/3 the cost of poly bags. Mesh bags have fewer uses and so no one really wants them after they’ve served their original purpose of transporting limes and vegies. Poly bags (double bagged for strength) are best for the gravel bag foundation, but I like mesh bags better for the rest of the wall. Plaster sticks to mesh bags like a magnet.
You can use the same soil in both types of bags. The only exception would be very sandy soils, rice hulls, etc. that would fall through.
Finding soil that doesn’t require additives is a huge, huge plus! You’ll save countless hours mixing. Like you said, just scoop it up and bag it. Just make sure it’s slightly moist. Make a test earthbag before you start just to make sure it dries into a hard mass.
As I mentioned previously I have been in contact with Maurice from bagsupplies.com and he has been extremely helpful. He told me that Patti Stouter has also been in contact with the same company and they are now sending me the raschel mesh sample that they sent to her. Previously they sent me a sample of the Leno Mesh which seems very appropriate for hyperadobe. I am happy to say that bagsupplies.com can offer both the leno mesh and the raschel in tube form on continuous rolls. Unfortunately, Maurice let me know that you would need to expect at least a 12 week lead time but the prices are fantastic! Both materials will be treated with 6% UV which Maurice told me equals approximately 6,000 hrs. Prices are below:
Raschel, (which is the stretch type in length, not in width) CD$ 170.00/1,000meters (Or 3,280 feet long x 18″ wide)
Leno Woven Mesh, (No stretch) CD$ 170.00/600 meters long x 46cm, (Or 2,000 feet long x 18″ wide)
The prices are Canadian.
Thanks Greg. This is good news.
I have also been in contact with bag supplies in Canada and their prices and interest in this process seem very encouraging. I had them send me a sample of leno mesh bags and they seem very good but they let me know that they are sending Patti something else. They can get leno mesh in tube form but how do I test the bag to see if it will work well?
Your test should simulate how you’re going to build. This will vary. Maybe you want to use insulation such as scoria. Maybe you have clayey soil that expands a lot when tamped.
For general earthbag building, follow these steps: http://www.instructables.com/id/Step-by-Step-Earthbag-Building/ Let your test bag dry out 2-3 weeks and then visually inspect it. Cut it open. Is the soil solid and hard? If so then you should be okay.
Bag Supplies Canada is my best link so far for a source for mesh tubing like that used by the Hyperadobe people in Brazil. The owner wants to get a sample and let me see if it’s right before he invests in ordering some rolls, but it looks like he can give us a good price that will be much less than solid bag costs. It will be a raschel warp mesh with pretty fine openings.
I retested my vexar mesh this weekend, and it split spontaneously multiple times when filled with earth. I am doing other tests with it for light clay or trash construction, but it is not strong enough to use for earth.
Syfilco’s erosion control mesh is almost as costly as solid weave bags, but perhaps this would be worthwhile for high seismic risk areas. It is 84% as strong as the solid weave poly fabric.
Funny how different folks have different ideas (and different soils) that influence their choices; I took my sample from Volm, made an adobe brick with it, and my concerns about the size of the mesh vanished as I filled it. I pre-moistened my soil a little, and that may have had something to do with it, but very little of it “fell” out of the mesh, and I just figured that whatever amount of dirt did fall through would only land on the course below, and be forced right back inside of the tube when I began to tamp it out.
One of the things that strikes me about Hyperadobe is the idea that soil will in fact migrate between the courses and create, in effect, a monolithic wall, and will among other things negate the use of barbed wire “velcro,” so it seems to me that the mesh size isn’t going to be an issue.
The proof if the pudding, of course, will come along when I actually build something with it, but that ought to be in short order, so I ought to be able to state some facts instead of indulging in speculation in a few weeks; at the moment I’m busier than a cat covering up, but that should change soon, and allow me to turn my attention to getting muddy and producing a shed or garage or something as a proof of concept before I tackle the house later this Spring.
I’ll let you know what happens.
Good point about mesh size — if a little falls through, no big deal.
I’ve been in contact with bagsupplies.com in Canada and they are sending me some samples of their Leno Mesh Bags. Bag Supplies told me they could get the material in rolls if there was enough interest. My question is how should I go about testing these samples to see if they are appropriate?
Patti Stouter is currently writing a blog post about this. Let’s wait a day or two and see what she comes up with.
I got a sample of the tube stock from Volm and it was a good size, but it’s openings were too big for soil- 12 mm or almost a half inch.
I also bought a roll of tube stock from Ace Bag and Burlap for only $65 and it is fine mesh with 4 or 5 mm openings. But it is only a single strand mesh, like they ship onions in here. It does not look knitted to me.
This fine mesh from Ace has worked on a test 2 layers, but is light weight and must be handled carefully. My tube from Ace Bag weighs about 3 grams or 1/10 ounce per linear foot.
Just for clarity, you said it worked on two layers (courses), but I believe this is the same fabric that you could rip with your hands. That’s not something I would want to use to build a house with.
I sent a few pics to the straw*****yahoo address; it’s the only one that I found listed on a cursory examination, so I hope that it’s the correct one.
The last time that I spoke with Kandace at Volm Industries she was laughing; she told me that prior to my first e-mail to her she’d never heard of “Hyperadobe” or anything else relating their products to building applications, and then lo and behold a woman had called her with the same sort of inquiry (Alyssa, I presume).
Unfortunately the raschel warp fabric that Volm produces is generated in a fifteen-foot wide sheet, which is then cut to size for bags and sewn on two sides, so the only tubing that they have available is the simple raschel mesh, which Kandace says will stretch out to about 22 inches (which is dead flat without anything inside of it).
I’ve got a sample bag from them sewn from the raschel warp material, and it appears to be hell for stout, but the pricing isn’t that far off of “conventional” woven poly bags, and part of the beauty of Hyperadobe is the tubing to begin with, so I’m not really tempted by the bags, although some others might find them attractive.
The two sizes that Kandace quoted me were:
18” x 34.5” = $377.89/1000
19” x 34.5” = $388.13/1000
And those prices are for the minimum order, which is 10,000 bags.
If there is some way to post pictures here let me know, and I’ll put up some images of all of this stuff so you can get a better sense of just what it is and what it looks like.
You can send images to me by email. Click on About Us at the top of the page to find my email.
I’m researching mesh from various companies in China and they’ve asked me what weight I’m interested in (from 8 to 32 grams). Obviously the heavier weight will be stronger, and more expensive. Does anyone have an idea what would be the minimum weight that would still be good for building?
I’d probably use whatever is most commonly used locally.
I am also researching Chinese suppliers of mesh as I live in Kenya. I am not having any response, maybe my mails are directed to Alibaba and are not being passed on.
Did you have any success and can you recommend a product, raschel or leno mesh, and also a supplier willing to supply as little as 1,000 kg ( enough for 6 Studio huts, I think. I will in a separate post ask for mesh detail specifications recommended by users.
I wanted to let you all know about some pricing research I’ve done for mesh bags. It varies a lot.
*The cheapest by far is Volmbag.com, which is the same as Plexpex or something similar to that name that I saw mentioned on this blog. They’re both out of Wisconsin. A 21″ width roll of 5906′ is $94 and comes in dark purple. They also have 18.5″ by I believe 30″ for $.20 a bag. I asked the rep Candy to send me samples and I will post them when I receive them.
*Onlinefabricstore.net has 18.9″x31.9″ or $.26/bag if you buy 1000 or more. Shipping for 2000 to NM would be $47.
*bagsupplies.com has 20″x34″(? or similar size) for $218 Canadian.
*Jumbosack.com has 18″x32″–2000 bags is $516.
*Unitedbags.com has 18″x30″– $.32/bag
*Farberbag.com 18.5″x32″ $.47/bag. Shipping expensive–to NM would be $162 for 2000 bags.
*Fisherbag.com has 19″x31″ for $.49/bag.
Most of these places have a variety of sizes and colors, though no one seems to have black. Shipping costs seem to differ A LOT as well.
I’m planning on taking the leap and building a house with these bags beginning in May so will give updates on them or you can follow on my blog.
This is very good info and could very well be turned into a blog post once we know the quality of the samples. The goal is to create a list of companies and products that provide assurance of quality and price.
I would love to know your supplier if you look at this feed again :-)
Where is this resource list? I probably am just not looking hard enough, but I would love to see it and all the information you’ve compiled into it.
As soon as I read about Hyperadobe and saw some of the pictures of construction on the ‘Net I realized that the technique ought to have some considerable advantages over some of the other “classic” flexible-form techniques like woven poly bags, and I too began to look for a source for the raschel tubular material.
One of the things that I’ve discovered is that “raschel mesh” material and “raschel mesh warp” material are two different things; the photos that I’ve seen of Hyperadobe construction down in Brazil appear to be using raschel mesh warp fabric, but I haven’t been able to source any in the United States as of yet, although I have found at least one manufacturer who generates the fabric in 15’ wide sheets, and then cuts and stitches it on two sides to create a bag.
That manufacturer also produces and sells raschel mesh tubing, and the cost for that is almost insanely low when contrasted with woven poly bags; I purchased a roll last week that was 5,900 feet long for the princely sum of $71.00 and change, and an additional $20.00+ was enough to have it shipped to Southeastern Arizona where our construction will take place.
By the way, “raschel warp” fabric has squares in addition to extra strands that run diagonally inside of each square, creating a series of narrow triangles, while the simple “raschel mesh” contains only squares, and looks remarkably like a common onion bag that you might find in any grocery store.
The fabric is deceptively strong, though, and even though I had some doubts about using raschel mesh tubing because of the strength issue I realized that all it has to do is hold the soil in position long enough to dry; there’s really no structural component to the mesh, or so it seems to me. I also found out that you can easily cut two lengths of raschel mesh tubing, slip one inside of the other, and knot the end, and thereby end up with a double-thickness, double-strength length of fabric, which ought to resist tearing or deforming no matter how hard you apply a tamper.
I wetted a little bit of adobe soil and hand-packed it into an adobe brick using a two-foot length of a sample that one of the sales staff was kind enough to send to me, and it seemed to work just fine, although it did crack when I dropped it from 4 feet up or so after it had cured for a couple of days.
I have plenty of pictures of this stuff if I can figure out how to post them here; sometimes a picture really is worth a 1,000 words, and it’s easier to show some of the different weaves and so on than it is to describe them.
Thanks for sharing. We really encourage this type of experimenting and public discussion to move things forward. I think this info could be turned into a blog post.
It would be great to know the name of your supplier. We’d love to have a list of the best, lowest cost suppliers. (Our current Resource list is more or less random.)
We believe the bags provide some added strength that can be beneficial and so we encourage builders not to destroy the fabric.
Playing with the numbers, it actually appears that the mesh tubes are slightly more expensive, per foot, than the woven individual bags. This is somewhat surprising, as I would think that there’s significantly less material in the mesh. It may be more costly to make mesh than bags, I suppose, or it could be the greater UV resistance pushes the material cost up somewhat. The elimination of the barbed wire will help to offset the difference, but not a whole lot, as a 1/4 mile roll of 12.5ga 4 point is only about $70.
Regardless, we’ll be ordering some to experiment with our Georgia clay, probably the E12-124T mentioned above. Can you think of any reasons why a smaller mesh would be really desirable with a heavy clay soil?
Thanks for the input. As far as what mesh size to use, I think you just have to experiment. With our soil I was surprised that almost no soil fell through the rather large openings. The clay particles clump together and are larger than the openings.
We are moving ahead on our model home in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and should have all the bags to roof level by the end of next week. My current plan is to have the home done by the end of May. The owner of the Model Home plans to add a second floor, would this work for that? If it would, I would be willing to build the second story as a test. Now is the time to discuss this before we finish the concrete cap on the bags and pour the roof structure, Kelly designed for us. Would the manufacture be willing to sell one roll and cooperate in the testing of their product for this purpose. We plan to build 100 homes over the next two to three years and should have 20 building sites approved for this summer.
Mike, I do think that the mesh tubing would work just fine as a second story on that model home in Puerto Vallarta. You would still want to fill the first course with gravel, but this should present no problem. The vertical rebar reinforcement should also be done as illustrated. But you should be able to dispense with the barbed wire and mesh for the plaster, so it will save a lot of time and expense.
You will need to make arrangements with the manufacturer to acquire a roll of the appropriate mesh tubing. My recommendation is to go with the E12 – 124T mesh.
So no barbed wire necessary, even for domes? In seismic areas would one want to keep it around just for extra strength? Or would it really not add much?
I explain in another comment that domes still require barbed wire. You need it for tensile strength Theoretically you could build a dome without it and it would hold up, but that’s like playing with fire in my opinion. It would be very dangerous not to use on domes, unless you have some other way to reinforce it.
It’s definitely helpful in seismic areas, although I would use the PSE reinforced earthbag method in seismic areas. It’s much stronger and safer.
We don’t really know how well the mesh might work in keeping the integrity of domes without the use of barbed wire, since no one has reported trying this. At this point it is definitely better to error on the side of caution, unless you want to experiment. My gut feeling is that the mesh could provide sufficient tensile strength to keep dome structures from failing, but that is just a feeling.
Owen, wouldn’t all that stretchiness make it tougher to control continuous uniformity in coils or even from bag to bag?
It has a different feel, but you soon adapt. The hyperadobe walls in the photos and videos are often more uniform than bags.
Re the mesh concept, I’m assuming the earth material would mix during tamping with the bag/coil below to form a more-uniform lateral tension strength, similar to mortar.
Yes, that’s what the term monolithic is referring to — the courses tend to stick together and form one continuous wall.
Don’t you have to make sure each successive bag has wet/uncured enough bags/coils below it to get as effective shear bonding as as barbed wire does?
If you stopped work for a while, you might want to moisten the top layer just a little to improve bonding.
Would barbed wire be a reasonable back up anyway, for insurance, or do you think it would not be as functional given the “holey” nature of mesh bags?
It depends on what you’re building. Barbed wire doesn’t seem necessary on most vertical wall structures. And it’s not needed if you use the PSE reinforced earthbag method. But I would use it on 1. domes, 2. structures in seismic zones that don’t use the PSE method. Also note, my experiment shows barbed wire hooks more readily to mesh bags than regular poly bags.
I agree with what Owen has to say, but I might point out that we don’t really know how well the mesh might work in keeping the integrity of domes without the use of barbed wire, since no one has reported trying this. At this point it is definitely better to error on the side of caution, unless you want to experiment. My gut feeling is that the mesh could provide sufficient tensile strength to keep dome structures from failing, but that is just a feeling.
How large are the holes? I am getting ready to build a home in Northern Idaho and I was considered perlite or scoria for its insulating qualities and I was wondering if the mesh is small enough to hold these in effectively?
The holes vary in size depending on the brand. Order one bag and test it out. It should work for scoria but not perlite.
The mesh that Syfilco sells comes in a variety of sizes. What is shown the photo has a diamond pattern at 1/4″ intervals (labeled E12-124T for the larger and E8-124T for the smaller); this would hold crushed scoria quite well I’m sure, but perhaps not the perlite. They also sent me some at 3/8″ intervals (which seems too large for most applications), and a sample of E9-9FC, which has an intricate woven pattern that leaves no holes larger than about 1/8″; I think this tube would probably hold the perlite. The finest mesh tube they sent (A6″ UV Filter) is almost is close a weave as nylon stockings, and would hold almost anything but liquid.
This is great news. It’s really helpful having a range of mesh sizes for various applications. Thanks for checking into this and sharing with others.