How would you build earthbag walls up to 12 feet above ground on pier footings? A reader asked me this recently. Hmm. Moving tons of earth up that high would be difficult, and that got me thinking of alternatives. One solution I came up with uses an insulation blowing machine and hand-held bag sewing machine to build walls with rice hulls, perlite or similar lightweight insulation.

Insulation Blower

Insulation Blower

Here’s the basic process. One or two workers with large grain scoops shovel rice hulls from a truck directly into the hopper of an insulation blowing machine. A bag filling crew working on a wood framed floor fills and sews bags closed. Other workers stack the bag walls. All walls are tied down with poly strapping and then plastered. Please leave a comment if you have suggestions for improving this idea.

Bag Closing Machine

Bag Closing Machine


Earthbag Walls in One Day? — 4 Comments

  1. Hi,

    Can you share some more details on the Bag closing machine. Also if you have any idea of the costing of such a machine ? Could you also share your thoughts on how the polystrapping works and are there any tools to do that.


    • You’ll have to do a Google search for the bag closing machine. I like to use Google Images so I can see what it looks like right away. Then contact the company.

      Poly strapping is used throughout the shipping industry for strapping loads to pallets. You may have to buy a big roll. Suppliers sell specialized tools for tightening. Chris Magwood did a good review of the best tools about 2-3 years ago in The Last Straw journal. Back copies are available. It’s very popular among strawbale builders.

    • Rice hulls are typically only available in rice growing regions. They’re generally considered a low value byproduct, and so are not distributed widely. You could pay to have rice hulls trucked to you, of course, but then this defeats the idea of building sustainably.

      For perlite, which is more widely available, check with large building supply centers and home and garden stores. You could also do a Google search and/or check with the Perlite Institute to find suppliers near you:

      Cost of rice hulls in my area? A huge truckload about 1/2 semi (“18-wheeler”) was $25 last time I checked. The delivery cost is more than the cost of hulls.

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