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Tidbits – A Natural Union: Timber Frames and Straw Bales

Timber frames and straw bales home
Photo courtesy of Andrew Morrison

A timber frame home clothed in straw bales and plaster is one like no other – a unique home perfectly adapted to any climate and full of whimsy. The techniques for creating a beautiful straw and timber home are simple, but must be executed properly to achieve the look and performance you want. Done right, timber frames and straw bales work very well together.

The first, and most critical, element in marrying straw and timber lies in creating a tight joint between the straw bales and the wood. Without that tight joint, you risk water infiltration through the cracks in the connections. Andrew Morrison of StrawBale.com recommends applying a plaster lath to the back side of the posts and beams before installing the straw bales. He writes, “Hang it over the edges of the wood by about 3-4″. This will allow you to tie your mesh into the lath and then have a tight, structurally supported plaster/wood joint later on.”

The second essential step is securing the bales to the structure in such a way that they don’t separate over time. The simplest way is to use a fold of plaster lath on each layer of bales and at each intersection – just cut a 9″ x 18″ piece of lath, and fold it so that you can lay a 12″ section on the bale and the remaining 6″ section can be stapled to the post. You can then staple the 12″ section to the bales with 9″ landscaping pins, creating a secure and stable connection between the posts and the straw bales.

Learn more about building with straw bales and get your questions answered: https://www.strawbale.com/strawbale-faqs/

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