There’s a plethora of building options not covered in the current earthbag literature, one of which is using wood siding on earthbag houses. Plaster is by far the most common wall finish, but it’s always good to know about other options.

Slab Siding

Slab Siding

Wavy Edge Siding (top portion)

Wavy Edge Siding (top portion)

For instance, you may have access to a portable sawmill and low cost timber and can make your own furring strips, slab siding and wavy edge siding. Gleaning wood from logging operations or tree trimming companies are two examples. Or in certain regions, you may be able to buy offcuts inexpensively from a local sawmill (very common).

2×2, 1×3 or 1×4 furring strips will all work. Rough milled wood is fine for furring strips, which means you can mill your own for very little money. Whether you cut your own wood or buy it, make sure it’s dried properly to avoid twisting and bowing. Take care to keep furring strips in alignment (all in one plane) on the wall or your finished siding will be uneven. Cedar shims will come in handy. Take special care when stacking earthbags, and use corner guides to create straight, vertical corners. Attach furring strips with poly baling twine. Embed lengths of twine as you build, and then add furring strips after wall is built.


Wood Siding on Earthbag Houses — 18 Comments

  1. I am wondering about putting some insulating material between wood siding and the earth bags – does this sound like a good idea, and if so what sort of insulating materials would be suitable?

    P.S. thank you for this blog, it is an amazing resource!

    • It is definitely a good idea to insulate the earthbags that way, and the best kind of insulation would be something that would not be adversely affected by moisture, if by chance it were exposed to that. Possibilities might be pumice, scoria, perlite, rock wool, foam (like soy based foam).

  2. I am interested in using wood siding with scoria filled bags. Would the siding offer enough protection to the bags, or is an additional material needed between the siding and the bags? I live in a fairly dry sunny climate with temperatures ranging from -10C minimums in winter up to 40C maximums in summer.

    • The main concern with earthbags is to keep them totally out of the sun, so as long as the siding covers them completely, they should be fine.

    • Search our blog for the keyword retrofit. Most people do this with straw bales but you can also use earthbags. Simply build an earthbag wall (preferably starting with gravel bags) a short distance away from the mobile home. Add masonry straps/ties or electrical strapping every so often as need to keep the wall stable. Then frame out for new windows and extend the roof. You might want to build a new roof over the whole house and improve the insulation while you’re at it.

  3. An, Idk if I asked this, (sorry if I did), what weather conditions are suitable for a earthbag house, and how fast (or slow) does it take to assemble one?? An can you add the wood to the outside??

    • Earthbag buildings can endure most any climates including tropical hurricane areas and earthquake zones. Yes, you can attach the slab wood siding to the outside. Install 1×2 nailers with twine and attach the slabs with a nail gun (avoids ‘bounce’ from hammering nails).

    • I know, ha ha! And it’s SUPER low cost. Slabs are pretty much a waste product from sawmills. You can buy big trailer loads cheap. Plus, they’re way easier to work with than logs, and slab siding is easier than plastering walls.

      • I think I found my dream home!!! Lol. :) how cheap, exactly? Am planning on doing the $300 home and adding this to the house. Btw,can you do off grid with Cobs or only on grid??

          • Sweet. I’m in a country area. Although, did not know cob takes forever, so am now interested in the earthbag.. could you please tell me the pros and cons?? I live where it rains, + hurricanes. An all 4 seasons. It’s hot in summer and cold in winter. Plus we sometimes get snowstorms. It can range from 20 to 0 in winter. An about 70-over 100 in Summer. We have clay soil in places. Think Georgia clay.

          • Keep reading our blog. We have thousands of pages that answer the basics about earthbag building. Or more conveniently, buy my $20 ebook that explains everything. Earthbag is perfect for your climate if you install rigid foam board on the outside in between nailers. I would use 2″ foam board and 2″ thick nailers. Cover than with slab siding. You might want to add a house wrap (google it) to block blowing rain. Build 2′ wide roof overhangs to keep rain off the walls.

  4. Omg that slab siding looks EXACTLY like what I’m looking for!! I wanted a cabin look, (my dream home is a little cabin in the woods). However I don’t have the $ for an actual log cabin.. this could work!!! :D

  5. This could presumably reduce external maintenance.
    What maintenance is required for an earthbag house?

    A stick & brick house just requires a lick of paint and re-carpeting every now and then (maybe change door knobs and such as fashions change).

    But with earthbag houses I’m imagining having to re-plaster regularly, being unable to properly wipe clean earthen walls and such.

    In particular I’m concerned with what maintenance is required as the building ages (eg. after 15 years old) and would love to hear from someone who has (or has experience with) an earthbag house about that old.

    • It seems every home will need a certain amount of maintenance — caulking, painting trim, and so on. It’s hard to say how much maintenance will be required since there are very few older earthbag houses to study, and because there are so many ways of building them. A dome, for instance, will be exposed to the elements much more than a roofed structure with wide overhangs. Also, climate will play a role.

      In general, plaster is very durable. More so than fiberboard siding and sheet rock. Earth plaster can be finished and sealed so it can be wiped down.

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