The Truth about Papercrete — 5 Comments

  1. At 3 Moons project we have been adding paperinsularion 1 bucket x 2 dirt whatever. First few rather thin coats final mix with sand, lime , will tell you know how many years will hold up !
    Thanks for sharing on history and use.

  2. Great article. On additional issue that tends to be ignored is strength. So many projects are begun without making any engineering calculations. So many materials are mixed and used without any testing to determine the materials load bearing abilities. Unfortunately, many of these builder’s projects, which start with great enthusiasm and dreams of the perfect, wonderful building either become a maintenance nightmare or uninhabitable.

  3. Climate and usage dictates an appropriate approach and mix. Papercrete comes in as many forms as it does mixes. Especially with a risky wonderful material such as papercrete, consider how all the parts of a house interact wrt water management, vapor drive, molecular compatibility, insulation, etc.

    I like the name padobe, because if it is in thick block form and not of a rich mix, it should be treated and protected like an adobe wall block, preferably under a quality roof overhang, sitting on a stem wall, in a dry dessert. And plastered appropriately for the climate and site conditions.

    Fiberous cement, sounds reminiscent of the bombproof “fiber cement” siding, such as hardi siding. And with a sand and cement rich mix, a harder, long wearing exterior render mix can be created.

    I like to use these two terms to describe these two different forms of papercrete.

    Shrinkage–add quality sand, and more binder.

    Mold–add lime and borax

    Slow drying–use in dry climates and thinner applications. At least let it breathe to one side once completed.

    There is a commercial production company out of, I believe, Mason TX. They make a great papercrete brick. Not too cement rich, but you wouldn’t know examining it. I believe they add a respectable amount of waterglass to the mix and then hydraulically compress the bricks. They had great engineered PSI specs in their literature last I read it.

  4. Great article, Kelly! Every new building method claims to be the “latest and greatest” but the truth is every one has pros and cons and the most important thing is to use materials appropriate to your climate. I’ve used papercrete on top of a roof for insulation and that was a huge mistake in Georgia! But used where appropriate, it can be great to work with. Thanks for such an informative, well-balanced article!

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