Very good overview of cordwood construction by Rob Roy of the Earthwood Building School. This seems like the best introductory cordwood video. They show every step of construction and hundreds of useful tips. Many of the design tips such as inserting bottles into the wall can be used with other wall building methods.

Interior view of cordwood wall sunroom.

Interior view of cordwood wall sunroom.

“Cordwood homes are attractive for their visual appeal, maximization of interior space (with a rounded plan), economy of resources, and ease of construction. Wood usually accounts for about 40- 60% of the wall system, the remaining portion consisting of a mortar mix and insulating fill. Cordwood construction can be sustainable depending on design and process.

There are two main types of Cordwood Construction, Throughwall and M-I-M (mortar-insulation-mortar). In Throughwall, the mortar mix itself contains an insulative material, usually sawdust, chopped newsprint, or paper sludge, in sometimes very high percentages by mass (80% paper sludge/20% mortar). In the more common M-I-M, and unlike Brick or Throughwall masonry, the mortar does not continue throughout the wall. Instead, three- or four-inch (sometimes more) beads of mortar on each side of the wall provide stability and support, with a separate insulation between them. Cordwood walls can be load-bearing (using built-up corners, or curved wall designed) or laid within a post and beam framework which provides structural reinforcement and is suitable for earthquake-prone areas.”



How to Build a Cordwood House — 1 Comment

  1. So what’s the fastest, easiest way to build sustainably in cold climates? I recommend foundation courses of scoria filled bags or tubes to create an insulated foundation very inexpensively. Then stack straw bales on top. Use cordwood, stonework, etc. as decorate elements in key areas for visual interest. This would not only save time and effort, you’d also get a better insulated home.

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