This type of eco-friendly construction dates back to the early twentieth century. Straw bale construction consists of baled straw from different types of wheat for insulation and usually covered with stucco as an exterior finish. Usually the straw used is a waste product that has no substantial use or is in demand in any way, making it a form of insulation that does not consume the forest, is not costly and is a great form of insulation. Straw bale forms can be used for residential as well as light commercial applications such as schools, community centres and other low rise buildings.
There are two main methods of building a home using straw bale construction. The first is post and beam construction, where the structural support is achieved by using heavy timber framing all around the bales. This method is usually preferred in damp locations. The bales cannot get wet during the construction process therefore with the post and beam method, the roof can be built first and the straw bale insulation can be implemented later. The second method is called the Nebraska style straw bale construction. It gets its name from the original straw bale homes that were originally built in Nebraska, where in this method the weight of the roof is supported by the bales of straw. You may be picturing a home that looks like a haystack, however this is not the case. Straw bale homes look the same as any other type of home due to the finish on the exterior and interior.
What’s attractive about straw bale construction is that it is much more cost efficient than other types of green building construction. The price of bales may change during the year depending on the season’s growth rate and time of year they were harvested. The cost of the stucco is another aspect that is taken into consideration. Some people choose limestone coatings on the exterior, whereas others choose to use cement.
With straw bale construction it is crucial to find windows and doors that will keep the structure air tight from any water leakage whatsoever. Due to the properties of fiberglass windows, there is no chance of the windows ever distorting overtime, ensuring that your windows will always be air tight. Vinyl windows will distort, crack and warp overtime due to its non-proportional expansion/contraction rates in comparison to the glass portion of the window. In regards to the window style, some people prefer to use fixed windows to prevent from any rain that can come through the window. Regardless to the style of the window, the frame material is more important than anything. If a window frame will change its form overtime, it will not perform properly and will cause leakage overtime. Fiberglass windows are durable enough to never change its form and maintain its air tightness throughout its entire lifespan, being the perfect window for straw bale homes.