Rice Hull Mesh Earthbags — 19 Comments

  1. If it is possible to connect me to Mike in TX I would appreciate that. I am also in TX and just starting my research I would love to find out what he learned and if he needs help on a build.

  2. One small disadvantage of rice hull bags: you can’t walk on the walls. You need a ladder or scaffolding.

    Rigidity of walls: add some saplings or small bamboo poles on both sides and tie them together with twine.

  3. Owen I did look over Maggie’s round house carefully and noticed she is using flour sacks made of cotton most any type of bag will work..
    What do you think about size ..hers are 4-5 meters ..can I go larger?

    • Flour sacks? Thanks, I didn’t know that. Yes, you can go larger with her building system. One limitation though is how you build the roof.

  4. Dr Geiger:

    Has any body tried replacing the straw in in Patti Stouter’s natural fiber tube with rice husks?


    • Not sure. Drop her an email and ask.

      Your comment made me realize mesh tubes could be made with natural fibers such as hemp. Has anyone heard of this???

    • Both will work. But mesh bags are half price here. Richard apparently found some at 1/4 cost. Plus, plaster sticks much more readily to the mesh, making plastering easier and more enjoyable.

    • About the weight of popcorn. And the cost is negligible as well. Some places give the hulls away. Here, it’s about $50 – $75 for half a semi truck load delivered.

  5. Can the rice hull bags walls be load bearing or can it only work with a post and beam structure? How would stucco be applied? The insulation properties are very tempting but the dangers of moisture infiltration compromising the wall is the biggest deterrent.

    • In most instances a post and beam frame would make the most sense. See Maggi’s B&B blog for one excellent example. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. Richard is contemplating small loadbearing roundhouses without posts.

      Use standard plastering methods. Plaster sticks to the mesh like super glue. It is the IDEAL surface for plastering. I just laughed when I first tried it. The bonding is almost too good to be true.

      Moisture: Use the same methods as established for strawbale building (which is extremely common and now in the building code). Build a durable roof with wide roof overhang, and raise the rice hull bags above the splash line and snow level. Wrap-around porches would be ideal. That way the walls would never get wet. But no need to get worried about a little moisture. Maggi is building domed roofs in Thailand! Talk about pushing the limits. But it’s good that someone is exploring the boundaries of what’s possible. Maybe she has to replace her $400 roof in 10 years. Pfft. No big deal.

      This jogged my memory. I have an old, old roundhouse design using rice hulls and wrap-around porch. I’ll try to find it.

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