What’s Strawbale?

What do You Mean by "Strawbale" Anyway?

Are You Trying to Tell me That the Straw . . . is Holding the House Up !?

No . . . Not in This House Anyway.

Goats eating straw

No, not in this house it doesn’t. However, some strawbale houses are built where the strawbale is load bearing. This house isn’t one of them. This house incorporates what’s referred to as “Post & Beam” construction. In my opinion, as having been a general contractor for 25 years, Post & Beam construction is superior to the load bearing strawbale simply due to the structural integrity of the building is compromised when you use nothing but strawbale to hold the walls up. Of course, you’d be considered “greener” without using trees for framing but your building would be limited in floor plans and limited to one story.

This page of the site deals with the very basic understanding of what strawbale construction is. The strawbale insulation page under the “Energy Saving Features” of the menu, deals only in how strawbale is used as an insulation and does not address the structural part of it.

There are two types of strawbale houses; load bearing strawbale or post & beam strawbale. Basically if you have a house that has a second story, it’s not load bearing strawbale but rather post & beam. So what’s that mean? Post & beam is a house framed from wood with shear-wall found in the application of plywood tying the framing together. The shear-wall and wood framing give the building the structural integrity needed for strength. If you build a house using the strawbale as load bearing material, then the strawbale itself is holding up the roof as well as supplying any shear strength needed. Personally, I prefer strawbale that is non-load bearing as this house is. That way, the strawbale acts only as insulation and the building is not reliant upon the strawbale for the building’s strength. For a 2 minute explanation from an expert on strawbale construction, see this video by clicking on the link: Load Bearing or Post & Beam

A non-load bearing strawbale house can be built to appear as any other house, in any configuration you’d like, with not only the added energy savings benefit of the higher R-values in the walls, but also the incredible aesthetic value with every window having a deep 18 inch sill. When the sills are that deep, it gives the home an appearance of being very strong, solid and rich in artistic appeal.

If you’re interested in strawbale, there’s a short video on 7 reasons you should build (or own) a strawbale house. Click here for the video.

strawbale 18" thick walls
strawbale 18" thick walls

Strawbale Truth Window

Strawbale "Truth Window"

This is what is commonly referred to as a “Truth Window” for homes that have been insulated using strawbale insulation. Most every strawbale built home has one somewhere within the home. People put them in different places, sometimes in a more public view as in the living room while other times, such as in our house, in the office just outside the kitchen. For a better explanation on the Truth Window in this house, click on the link above.  For further information on strawbale homes, click on www.strawbale.com

masonry heater

When you combine the insulating attributes of strawbale to the energy saving performance of a masonry heater, you have an unbeatable combo for energy efficient heating. Today, December 31, 2017 at 3:45 pm it was 26 deg F outside on the deck, while inside the house, with only the heating from the masonry heater, it was 65 deg F.  For more on our Masonry Heater go to our Masonry Heater Page.

strawbale framed clear glass in wall