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Papercrete - build ur own home for $1.00/sq ft !

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posted on May, 24 2009 @ 12:27 PM
Wasn't sure where to post this, but figured since we're all gonna be in the SURVIVAL mode sooner or later, this would be the place.

Papercrete. I had never heard of it until I watched Texas Country Reporter and they did a segment about Eve's Garden In Marathon. I'm sure not a green freak, but hearing how they had built their B&B out of PAPER caught my attention, so I started doing some research.

This process was patented in 1928, but since it's SOOOO cheap - mostly free - it never really went anywhere. A few folks have built their homes with papercrete since the 80's. I can't help but think with the push to go green and the fact that so many folks won't be able to afford a conventionally built home, that papercrete is getting ready to hit the big time. If I was young and energetic, I would definitely be learning all I could about it and laying the groundwork to start my papercrete business.

This is definitely some interesting stuff. Cheap (paper, water and Portland cement), has high insulation value, is fireproof, lightweight, strong, environmentally safe.

These are the best sites I have found so far.

Living In Paper - 2009

Building with Papercrete and Paper Adobe

Definitely an idea worth checking out!

posted on May, 25 2009 @ 04:00 AM
The article that states $1.00/sq. ft. is incorrect. The other, more accurate website clearly states:

There will be a positive impact on employment in areas producing papercrete. Homes and other buildings of up to 3300 sq. ft. have been built with papercrete for about $25/sq.ft. That doesn't include labor, but even when labor is factored in, papercrete homes can be built, with all the conveniences, for twenty to thirty percent less than conventional housing.

I mean, just think about it logically.... you think you could really build a 3300 sq. ft. home for $3300? Of course you couldn't. Not even if it was made out of dog poo.

[edit on 5/25/2009 by pjslug]

posted on May, 25 2009 @ 04:52 AM
They tried this with roofing tiles. It was a disaster. The fibers swelled when they got wet and the swelled fibers cracked the concrete. It was a nice try by Weyerhauser in their roofing division. The product was called Cemwood and it cost homeowners millions.

posted on May, 25 2009 @ 05:16 AM
This seems like a very good and easy building material. It has some remarkable qualitues, wiki even has a page about it.

Another webpage I stumbled across is :

Interesting youtube vid :

It does seem that if you want to build a house using this stuff, you`ll have to plaster the outside or think of another way to make it water resistant...

posted on May, 25 2009 @ 06:34 AM
heres another good idea.

Nice post mate

posted on May, 25 2009 @ 08:01 AM
reply to post by Lunatyx

I have made papercrete blocks before in the past just to try it. They are super lightweight and remarkablely strong. On your plaster coating, all you do is add a little more cement to the slurry mixture and you can smear it on the walls with your hands.
The drawback is the area needed and drying time for the production of the blocks. You'll also have to have alot of block forms as they can't be taken off until the block sets firm which is a couple of days. But they're very easy to work with and move. You reinforce your walls by driving rebar down through the stacked blocks.
A friend of mine just recently finished his 'high end' house in papercrete. It looks just like an adobe home. I don't know his sq.ft. cost but he got his blocks from a manufacturer out of El Paso,Tx.

posted on May, 25 2009 @ 08:02 AM
theflashor & Lunatyx - yes, it is interesting stuff. I think it could be the building material of the future. If I was a youngster, I would be figuring out how to manufacture large quantities of papercrete so I could be ready to supply it to builders.

pjslug - From what I understand, making the papercrete itself only costs about $1.00/sq. ft. Windows, doors, plumbing, electrical/etc would be in addition to that. Guess I should have made that clear, but, I figured people would read the information and figure that out themselves. And, of course, if one hired a construction company to build their house, it probably would cost $25/sq ft or more. But a DIYer could do it for much less.

Jim Scott - Cemwood is nothing like papercrete. Maybe you need to actually read the information. The moisture problem is one that is discussed on the websites I posted. They all state that after construction, it must be sealed to prevent moisture.

posted on May, 26 2009 @ 04:00 AM
reply to post by inthesticks

Very cool, some buildings in Europe are made with Cob, and
have been standing for centuries.


I think the Papercrete idea will be more acceptable to the neighbors
thou and more likely to get past the code ppl.

posted on May, 26 2009 @ 04:09 AM
Looks interesting to say the least. But moisture seems like it would be a serious draw back. The possibility of getting a serious mold problem after a water problem occurring seems to be disasterous, especially if a flood occurred.

posted on May, 26 2009 @ 08:40 AM

Originally posted by RussianScientists
Looks interesting to say the least. But moisture seems like it would be a serious draw back. The possibility of getting a serious mold problem after a water problem occurring seems to be disasterous, especially if a flood occurred.

That's what's intereseting about papercrete. It's mold and mildew resistant, rodent resistant and insect resistant. By adding that little bit of cement to the slurry somehow changes the paper pulp's chemical composition and by adding your plaster to the exterior you tend to make it water resistant just as in any other construction.

As I've said before, it's quite strong. They're even experimenting with papercrete load beams buy saturating twisted cords of straw with the mixture and adding other ingredients such as clay to the slurry. Just punch up 'papercrete'. There's alot of technical info on it about the strength and benifits of papercrete.

I would seriously consider this product except for the fact that I mentioned above over time and space required for production. I'm swayed more towards a 'sandbag' earthen home myself.

posted on May, 26 2009 @ 08:44 AM
I've been studying up on papercrete for years. In a survival situation, cement may be hard to come buy, however, finding a way to recylce papers, if you are salvaging, cardboard and using natural clays or minerals might work too. I've seen some of the canvas homes and cabin/lodges they've built with rigid tent cabins. I thought it might be possible to construct papercrete type wall interior, and use natural rustic found items inside for braces, and create a waterproof, tented outerlayer for extra weatherproofing.

posted on May, 26 2009 @ 09:13 AM
reply to post by mystiq

Well let's see, no cement, lack of clay, humm.. It would be easy enough to mix up a small batch of slurry and add just twigs maybe some shredded leaves or a combination of both to see if you can gain some rigidity for a thin layer of about 3/4" to an inch thick...interesting

posted on May, 26 2009 @ 11:01 AM
Yes, I thought a person would have to experiment in the end myself too. But I'm not technical, and considering how much work it would be to secure a sound dwelling in an emergency, I still needed to hear that this could work as well. Because I can pretty much assume, that what we end up building is going to collapse on us.

[edit on 26-5-2009 by mystiq]

posted on May, 26 2009 @ 12:23 PM
Great Post! I used to have a partnership in manufacturing synthetic stone (aka 'Cultured Stone'), it was very easy to do, and we used a lightweight expanded clay aggregate to make the stones very light and easy to apply. This papercrete seems pretty similar to make. We had hundreds of rubber molds to make the different shapes, and the molds were reuseable. I think the papercrete will require a lot less cement than our stones did, because of the natural properties of paper. The cement was the most expensive part of the process. We could buy tons of different colored cement dyes very cheaply. I can also see how this would be a very good insulator.

I haven't read all the links yet, but does anyone know the tensile, fracture, or compression strengths or other physical properties of this product? Does it have to be done in blocks? Can it be poured into slabs and assembled in the "lean-to" style that is done in South Florida. They are having very good luck using pre-tensioned wires and poured concrete walls that are assembled later. These buildings have proven more durable than concrete block, frame, or poured cement buildings.

If this product can be used in the same capacity, with similar strength ratings and added insulation factors, it is a miracle material!

posted on May, 26 2009 @ 10:14 PM
I think this thread is actually going somewhere. Everybody has so many interesting ideas about this stuff that its truly amazing to read what ideas people have. Their ideas, give me ideas.

I wouldn't mind making rubber molds and making this kind of stuff to paste on to my existing walls with some adheisive like "Tough as Nails" in order to make the outside of my house look like it was made out of stone, kind of like a rock formation jutting out of the dirt.

Also, I would like to make rubber molds to make the paper/concrete mixture to transform some of my inner rooms into looking like a natural cave of some sort. A couple stalagtites and stalagmites in the corners would be kind of cool looking.

And.... if I could somehow get that stuff to be "highly" water resistant, I wouldn't mind making a waterfall inside and outside of my home cascading down the fake rocks that I would like to have. This stuff sounds cool if a person can transform a normal home into an Adventure Home.

posted on May, 27 2009 @ 08:25 AM
What Is Papercrete?

Papercrete is made from recycled paper with a small amount of cement and sand added. The ratio is 60/20/20. The paper/concrete/sand mixture is stirred in a large barrel, much like a blender, until all paper is shredded and evenly mixed with the concrete and sand. Papercrete can be mortared, drilled, hammered, nailed, used as plaster and as an infill between poles or studs. Recently, some people made the mixture without cement, and created Fidobe or Paper Adobe. These products are dense building logs used in construction.

While researching, I found a gentleman that had made a mixer out of an old 55 gallon drum, which was mounted on an old car axle. A unique gearing system attached to an old lawn mower blade did the mixing. He would hook this contraption behind his car, take a slow drive around the block, and have perfect papercrete.

How Is It Applied?

Papercrete is handled much like adobe. It can be made in smaller bricks or can be used much as cement is, and poured into a monolithic wall. If papercrete is poured in a monolithic wall, the density on the bottom will be much greater than on the top. The papercrete will be cut off from the air, causing drying issues. This can cause pockets, creases and voids in the wall. Papercrete will also shrink 30% in height when drying. It stands to reason that building using the slip form method is the safest bet.

One method of construction is the wattle and daub technique. In this construction, a wall is woven using poles and reeds, and then the papercrete is applied. This method has been in buildings dating back to primitive times.

Another technique used is the slipform method. In this method, the papercrete is poured into the forms creating the exterior walls. Forms are placed one on top of the other until the correct height is reached. The papercrete slurry is used to fill joints and reinforce the blocks. This type of construction is very strong, and is used in high rise buildings, silos, and multi-story buildings. Using this technique for building a papercrete house is a good choice.

Finishing Papercrete

Papercrete has the disadvantage of not being waterproof, and extra care must be taken during construction to insure that the site is completely waterproof on the exterior. The exterior can be finished with one layer (1/2") of homemade stucco, the mix being Portland cement, slick lime, masonry sand, and water. Be sure to apply evenly, and take great care to ensure that the exterior is completely waterproof. The walls can then be painted with latex paint, using several coats.

The interior can be treated in the same manner. Environmentalists try to build these constructions using the least amount of wood possible. Interior papercrete walls are often painted just as the exterior walls are - with latex paint. A white lime wash, which is very nice looking, can be applied to the interior.

Flooring can be made from adobe, or a mixture of adobe and papercrete. Often, papercrete is used as a subflooring, thus making a good thermal barrier. Flagstones are also often used for flooring. Papercrete, unless mixed with greater proportions of cement, must be covered with another material because papercrete flooring by itself will be indented by heavy tables and chairs.

posted on May, 27 2009 @ 08:30 AM
The slurry can just as easily be pumped or dumped into forms to set up that way. Eric Patterson makes adobe brick sized blocks of papercrete to build with, and mortars them together with a slurry of the same stuff. Mike McCain prefers to either pump the slurry into slip forms or make larger blocks for building. The addition of mineral material (sand, adobe, etc.) has the advantage of minimizing the shrinkage as it cures, making the final product more durable and fire proof, at the expense of slightly less insulating value and more weight.

Cured papercrete acts like a sponge unless it is coated with something to stop the entry of water. In my earthbag/papercrete house I have allowed the papercrete to breath fully, so that it absorbs an enormous amount of water when it rains. This is not a problem for me because there is nothing in the wall that would be damaged by water, even if it got past the papercrete layer, which it rarely or never does. It is a whole new concept for a roof: a sponge that welcomes the moisture, and then simply give it back to the atmosphere through evaporation. I have had large cracks (up to about 1/2 inch wide) in the initial layer of papercrete on the earthbags, and still have not seen any water getting through into the house.

Other properties of papercrete are:
1) It is dimensionally very stable both through the process of taking in moisture and drying out and in a wide range of temperatures.
2) It will hold fasteners to some extent, especially screws, without cracking.
3) It is highly insulating (about R-2 1/2 per inch).
4) It does not support flames, but will smolder for days if it does catch fire. The more cement and mineral material that is added to the mix, the more fire proof it becomes.
5) It will support molds if it remains warm and moist for too long.
6) It will wick moisture from the ground into the wall if it buried in dirt.
7) It becomes soft and will deteriorate if kept damp (especially underground) for too long.
8) It resists rodent and insect infestation.

Paper adobe is similar to papercrete, but instead of cement used to bind the paper fiber into a solid, clay is used as the binder. This can work well if the material is kept absolutely dry; otherwise it will become soft and could deform.

posted on May, 27 2009 @ 11:28 AM
This is such an excellent thread. Papermache, or papercrete can also make some amazingly expensive things, such as spinning wheels, for next to nothing rather than the 800 dollar price tag so many have, or drumcarders, or large table or floor looms that can cost up to 6000 dollars easily. And yes, they can make rugs and anything. You just have to study how easily the jack principle works, and the countermarch. for a large table loom that can just rest on a piece of plywood on a sturdy coffee table to be at a comfy height for sitting at a regular chair or sofa even, you can also rig up a series of cards to put on the harnesses to do incredibly complex patterns easily.
Of course you may need a simple plywood or very hard cardboard base, but theres a lot of things that can be made.

[edit on 27-5-2009 by mystiq]

posted on May, 27 2009 @ 04:24 PM
reply to post by mystiq

Hello Mystiq my friend from Canada.

You bring up another interesting aspect.


Papermache is incredible stuff. I have seen many high end jewelry boxes, and tables and dressing dividers and other things made out of papermache.

I don't understand why people don't make homes out of papermache, because papermache is terribly hard and it is very, very light. Its very easy to make and its cheap, cheap, cheap.

We used to papermache the big light bulbs as kids, and once the papermache coating had hardened around the lightbulbs we then broke the bulbs inside by striking them on something to break the glass inside. These made great large rattles when you shook them. They were fun to paint also.

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