As you can imagine, we get quite a few emails from readers asking about earthbag building. Sometimes these questions and ideas are of interest to a larger audience and so we pass them along to you in this blog. (The best questions and comments also end up on Kelly’s Earthbag Building FAQs.)
Chris, one of our readers, just sent us this request:
“I’ll be starting a project of my own soon and can use all the help and inspiration I can get. At some point I hope you’ll consider doing a serialized article or blog post that follows an earthbag project from inception to finish. In my own case, the earthbagging itself seems pretty straightforward, it’s the planning and details that are intimidating. I don’t know about you, but following someone else’s example always emboldens me quite a bit.”
Since Kelly is taking off on vacation, I’ll take a crack at this. Kelly has an excellent dome building guide that illustrates each step of construction called How to Build a Small Earthbag Dome.
The dome building method Kelly demonstrates in this step-by-step guide is the easiest, fastest method I am aware of. You could use tamped earth or lightweight fill material using this method. I highly recommend using scoria, vermiculite or perlite for lightweight earthbag construction, because of all the many benefits. For one, anyone can handle bags of lightweight fill material by themselves. It’s almost like handling bags of popcorn. In addition, these materials are also fireproof, rot proof, do not attract pests and create highly insulated structures. It’s also important to add that this modest sized dome (14 foot interior diameter) can readily be scaled up to 20 foot interior diameter with just a few modifications.