Strawbale finishing

The outside of the library after the color coat - it just blends in with the rest of the house

The straw bale library is now pretty much indistinguishable from the rest of the house, except for its very very thick walls. The exterior was finished much as the rest of the house was finished.  First there was a scratch coat (although this one was thicker than elsewhere in the house to account for the (surprisingly small) unevenness in the straw.  Then the brown coat and the color coat were applied exactly the same as it was elsewhere on the house.

The scratch coat inside the straw bale library

The scratch coat inside the straw bale library

Inside, the straw got a structolite “scratch coat” which is a light weight, but very hard plaster.  That coat was then followed by a smooth plaster coat.  The final coat will unify the plastered straw bale walls with the drywall in the upper soffit and ceiling.

the library window seat after the smooth plaster coat

4 replies
  1. britessmt
    britessmt says:

    Amazing work!
    Just a small question: How much time does warm water takes to reach the bathrooms and quicken?

  2. mdcohen
    mdcohen says:


    I enjoyed your TED talk a lot but…if you want to be strong on rigor, then time to payback is a terrible way to look an investment. Run, don’t walk, over to the finance department at Stanford and find someone to set you straight. The concern should be with a value of the investment–not the time to get paid back.


  3. petewalker1954
    petewalker1954 says:

    This is really great…my wife and I renovated as opposed to building…I’d be interested in talking to you about a similar study of that building…we installed geothermal heat, were slated to add a solar array which would have taken us dollar negative on our energy costs. I didn’t get as far as installing the solar array as the house went back to the bank in 2006 (we were poster children for the sub-prime mess).

    I am manufacturing a green line of cabinetry, and am very interested in talking to you if you…I am looking into ways to provide zero footprint housing for oil field workers in North Dakota, trying to get my dealer network set up, etc.

    Our products meet the CARB 2 standards for off-gassing, and we use FSC wood and veneer.

    The cabinetry manufacturing process is a very complex one, and I am only beginning to wrestle it into submission.

    re: the warm water…there are point-of-use electric heaters which virtually eliminate the lag time, reducing it from whatever to about a half second. This eliminates water waste completely.

    also if you simply use “Depression plumbing” techniques, you organize the piping in a building core and have one larger point-of-use tankless heater and the same result is achieved.

    The most important green component is that of design.

    This subject is often overlooked, and as you point out, the infrastructure and less glamorous aspects of building construction are almost never addressed.

    I don’t know any other way to get in touch except to as you to do so.


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