Web Exclusive—Splendor in the Grass
Take a good look at the walls of Keith Brunel and Jules Javernick's new Golden home (page 100 in the magazine), and you might be surprised to find they're made out of straw bale and mud. Built by hand, using local labor, renewable resources, and environmentally thoughtful methods, the couple's 2,800-square-foot contemporary home isn't just green—it's natural. It may also be the future of Colorado building. Click here for a complete list of the designers and contractors who built this house. Plus, get the facts on straw bale—from how it's made to a breakdown of benefits.
Deconstructing Straw Bale
- Frame: A two-sided wood frame holds bales in place.
- Straw bales: Bales are stacked like bricks, so the straw keys into itself, reinforcing the wall's stability. Each bale is approximately 14 by 18 by 36 inches, and weighs around 40 pounds.
- Slip layer (interior/exterior): After bales are in place, grippy clay slip is sprayed over the straw to provide texture for the next plaster layer.
- Straw clay layer (interior/exterior): A one-inch layer of combined earthen clay and straw pieces is hand applied, so that the five-inch fibers of straw work like rebar to glue bales together.
- Finish layer (interior): Made of lime, gypsum, or earth, the final 1/8- to 1/4-inch layer is a finer coat of plaster that can be mixed with pigment to color interior walls. Earth-based plasters help modulate humidity within the house, though gypsum is sometimes preferred because it is easier to nail or screw into.
- Exterior layers: First two layers are the same as above.
- Lime plaster layer (exterior): The exterior is sprayed with a thin coat of lime plaster, which offers more moisture resistance than gypsum. Pigment can be added to this layer as well or whitewashed onto walls using a water and lime mixture.
*Source: Brian Fuentes