Useful Tips

How to build an adobe wall


D Ohm and buildings from adobe can be found in any part of the world and not always in the rural outback: the "huts" of Ukraine, Mexico's pueblo, Duval of Central Asia, cozy houses of old Europe, and huts of Africa. Moreover, the largest building on Earth - the Great Wall of China at 2/3 built of adobe.

What kind of material, how it is made, how to use it and how to build a house from adobe with your own hands - we will understand in order.

1. Composition of adobe.
2. Cooking adobe for building a house.
2.1 We determine the necessary proportions of the components of adobe.
2.2 Knead the adobe.
3. We build a house from adobe with our own hands.
3.1 We form masonry blocks.
3.2 In situ molding.
4. Ceilings and ceilings of the adobe house.
5. Finishing works of adobe house.
6. Pros and cons of home adobe mix.
7. Recommended literature on adobe construction.

Composition of adobe

To start with the composition, adobe is a common clay mixed with sand and other additives. For builders, it has another name - clay. Clay in adobe as cement in ordinary concrete, combines all the components included in the material.

In addition to clay and sand, adobe includes:

  • Lightweight fillers that increase the heat-shielding properties of the material, reduce specific gravity, increase tensile strength, reduce shrinkage, preventing the formation of cracks.

Fibrous materials, preferably straw, are suitable as such additives. In addition to or in return for straw, chopped reeds, shavings, dry needles, dried sea grass, etc. can be used.

  • Heavy mineral fillers increase compressive strength and reduce clay consumption.

To do this, you can use crushed stone or gravel, river pebbles, a brick fight. Also, for building a house from adobe, claydite, blast furnace slag, expanded perlite can be added to it as heavy mineral fillers, which additionally increase thermal resistance.

  • Additives and plasticizers. Reduce the amount of water necessary for mixing the composition, thereby reducing shrinkage when drying adobe. They increase the ductility of the material, tensile strength.

Since ancient times, instead of complex chemistry, ordinary manure was used to make adobe for building a house. Horse, cow or camel. It was closed with water 1: 1, allowed to soften for a day, and then added to the adobe.

Now, casein, PVA emulsion, potassium silicate ("water glass") are easier to use as additives. A good effect is the addition of whey.

Cooking adobe for building a house

For the manufacture of high-quality adobe for building a house with your own hands, the proportions of the components of its components are very important.

Before you start building, take the time to do some preliminary research. It is better to start the construction itself with auxiliary buildings, on which to work out the composition of the material and the laying technology.

First of all, we need a reliable foundation - a mixture of clay and sand.

Despite the external similarity, clay can differ in properties even within the same field, not to mention different regions. In one case, adding sand is almost not necessary, in another proportion clay-sand will be 1/4 or more.

To simplify the task, collect information on the production of adobe in the region of your construction.

Material Feature

Saman is made on the basis of a mixture of clay, straw and sand. In the construction industry, it is called raw brick. Ceramic brick differs from adobe in that adobe is dried in air, and ceramic in ovens.

One-story buildings are erected from adobe bricks, less often - fences, but only in dry climates, as frequent rains destroy the material over time. It is worth noting that adobe has been used in construction for more than one millennium. Even the Great Wall of China in its composition has adobe material.

Most often, lightweight adobe is used in construction. It is dense and durable, does not burn and does not sag. In addition, it retains its shape well and, most importantly, “breathes”. Lightweight adobe is cheap, ideal for filling frame construction, playing the role of insulation. Its components are clay with straw and therefore such adobe is eco-friendly and absolutely non-toxic.

You can see in more detail how a house from light adobe looks in the photo.

The difference between heavy adobe and light adobe is that light adobe is not used for the construction of the load-bearing wall, since it is too thin; it is most often used to fill the wooden frame of the building. The heavy adobe contains more clay, therefore it is suitable for the erection of load-bearing structures.

Features of houses from adobe

Among the features of adobe houses can be identified:

  1. Reliability and durability. Having prepared a good foundation and a reliable, non-leaking roof for the adobe house, the construction can last more than five hundred years, surviving traditional frame houses. The strength of the adobe house is ensured by tightly interwoven straw fibers in the structure of the material.
  2. Lack of dampness and ability to keep warm. A wall made of adobe has an approximate thickness of more than 30 centimeters, while possessing the ability to accumulate and retain heat. In summer, adobe houses are characterized by comfortable coolness, and in winter they keep warm.
  3. Reasonable price of adobe. This is a very cheap building material.
  4. A house from adobe is being built very quickly. In addition, after the erection of the adobe frame, it will only be necessary to plaster it without other additional work.

  1. Resistant to climate change. The ability of adobe walls to weaken heat when outside the window is a high temperature. It will take about a day to transfer heat or cold to a 60-cm wall. In winter, with stove heating of an adobe house, its walls warm up well and remain warm for about another 10 hours.
  2. Plasticity and strength of the material. Houses made of adobe material are highly durable. If you keep the adobe house in good condition, it can stand for about a thousand years.
  3. Noise absorption. Saman in its structure conducts sounds poorly. Therefore, some build adobe houses near roads, railways and factories. Adobe walls absorb not only noise from outside, but also sounds inside the house.
  4. Saman as a building material is safe for health, does not contain toxic substances.
  5. It has refractory qualities and is widely used for the manufacture of chimneys.

The disadvantages of adobe are:

  1. Weak moisture resistance. On the outside, adobe walls require plastering and protection against precipitation.
  2. Mice can settle in the walls, as it is not difficult for them to bite through such a wall.
  3. It is advisable to erect a structure in summer and spring, since in winter this material is slightly malleable, the use of alkalis is necessary.
  4. Adobe blocks dry for a long time.

Saman is unsuitable in the following conditions:

  • constructions are not built on steep slopes,
  • in the shade of the trees
  • in places where floods often occur.

The choice of material for the house from adobe

To build the adobe you will need:

  1. Clay. Often clay for the construction of an adobe house is mined outside the city, in the place of excavation, in a quarry, dug trenches at the site of future construction. Clay must be oily or medium, in which case it does not crumble. Externally, clay has a red color, ocher color, gray color. But dimly gray. In some places you can find clay deposits of green, white, black and so on. It is necessary to understand it well so as not to be mistaken. Clay can also be found in various water bodies, for example, at the bottom of a lake. According to its properties, it is waterproof. To check if you really found clay deposits, take a small lump and mix with water. If it becomes very plastic like plasticine and sticky, then it really is clay, suitable for the formation of adobe bricks.
  1. Straw. As straw, dried winter wheat is suitable. Rye and barley straw can also be used. A prerequisite is dry straw or hay from coarse grasses.
  1. Sand. For adobe blocks, sand from large particles (about 1.9-2.1 microns) is used. In its structure, sand should be multifaceted, but not round. Career sand is good. Sea and river can be used as a last resort.

When planning construction from adobe, it is necessary to prepare clay in the fall:

  1. In a special pit (shoulder) dug in the street, clay is laid out in layers. The dimensions of the pit: H - 100cm, D - 200cm, W - 150 cm.
  2. Layers of clay, about three meters high, are filled with water. Top covered with wet straw. The straw is covered with roofing material or other coating. About 600 adobe blocks, 2X2X4m in size, will come out of this amount of clay in the pit.
  3. In early March, the coating is removed along with a layer of straw and again covered with a film of polyethylene, creating a greenhouse for clay. Thus, it does not dry out and retain its stickiness.

Production of adobe blocks

For the manufacture of adobe blocks, you must:

  1. The first step is to carefully mix clay and sand, adding water and straw. The consistency is thick.
  2. From a clay-sand mixture, a ball rolls in sizes similar to a chicken egg. The correct consistency is defined as follows: if the ball sticks to the hands too much, it means sand is added, if the ball crumbles, clay is added.

The technology of forming adobe blocks:

  1. Construction of a house from adobe begins with the formation of blocks of the required size. To do this, use bottomless boxes of wooden boards, about 25 mm thick.
  2. Finished forms are pre-moistened with water and sprinkled with small grain waste, such as sex. Then press the finished mixture into blocks.
  3. Dried blocks are dried. Three days later, they are turned over and dried for another week. Then lay two blocks on the edge.
  4. Readiness of a brick is determined by its color. Throughout the block, its color should be the same. It must be solid. To check the adobe block for strength, it is necessary to put it in water. If during the day it does not dissolve and does not become soft, it means that a high-quality building material is obtained.

Construction of an adobe house

If you wish, it is quite possible to build a house from adobe with your own hands. It is only important to provide yourself with all the tools, such as:

  • digging tools - shovel, chopper, pitchfork,
  • large containers for water and mixing plaster and storage materials,
  • level for leveling the surface,
  • a big strong knife to cut the adobe,
  • pocket knife to cut tarps and other materials,
  • wooden sticks to create holes in adobe blocks,
  • tools for transporting materials, the construction car is most suitable,
  • barrels of large volumes for water,
  • sprayers for spraying adobe,
  • a sieve with hole sizes of 1.25, 0.6, 0.3 mm for plaster,
  • a wooden shovel to mix plaster and a mixture for flooring,
  • ax, saw,
  • watering can or hose with running water,
  • stairs, scaffolding, rags for wiping dirt, buckets, gloves, tape measure,
  • plaster trowel may come in handy
  • scrap, safety glasses, glass cutter, marker for marks, rope.

To build a house from adobe, it is necessary to plan the ceiling height in advance, which in the adobe house must be made 30 centimeters higher, because the adobe construction has been sagging over the years.

To prevent rodents from getting into the house, the lower part of the walls must be strengthened with a metal mesh, and all elements from the tree should be treated with antiseptics and waterproofed.

The technology of building a house from adobe:

  1. A building material such as adobe does not like a humid environment. Therefore, it is better to start building a house from adobe in the summer, in dry and warm weather.
  2. First of all, it is necessary to outline the size of the area under development. Dig out the ground for laying the foundation and level it under the level.
  3. At the same time, sewer communications are laid and the excavated trench is filled with drainage.
  4. The foundation must be protected from getting wet by fencing the basement with a blind area. The foundation is made of brick or reinforced concrete. During construction, the base from the foundation is raised by more than half a meter, and insulated with roofing tape or film. Moreover, its thickness should exceed the thickness of the walls in the future house.
  5. When laying adobe bricks in the summer, a solution of sand, clay and straw, about 4: 3, is used. When laying bricks in spring or autumn, a mortar of lime and cement is used.
  6. In the place of future door and window openings, during brick laying, antiseptic plugs are laid, to which doors and windows will be attached.
  7. Doors and windows of the future home must be placed, observing a distance of more than one and a half meters from the corners of the house. The thickness of the partitions in the house should be at least 60 cm.
  8. For walls made of adobe bricks, you can use a wooden floor, for brick and adobe walls - reinforced concrete floors.
  9. At the beginning of the construction of the walls, it is necessary to make a wooden frame of the roof, which will be removed when the walls are ready.
  10. Walls should be vertical or wedge-shaped without bulges.
  11. After completion of the walls, you can build an attic, beams, ceilings.
  12. When the walls finally settle, and they need about a year to do this, they must be plastered with a lime-clay mortar, with the addition of sand and fine straw. After applying one layer of plaster, small pegs are driven into the wall in a checkerboard pattern to keep the plaster.
  13. After two layers of finish, it is necessary to align the walls and paint if necessary.
  14. The roof of the house can be made of two types: classic and attic. In the classic version, there is an insulated floor and a cold attic. The attic roof is insulated, a living room is equipped under it.
  15. After completing the construction of the roof, it is necessary to plaster the ceiling.
  16. On the outside, the walls are also plastered. You can also paint them with ocher.
  17. When it comes to building a house from light adobe, then after laying the foundation, a wooden frame of the house is built. The walls and partitions of the frame will be filled with layers of light adobe.

Characteristics of adobe as a building material

Material properties fully depend on the quantity and composition of light filling components. The average density of heavy adobe is 1,550 kg per cubic meter, which is slightly less than that of simple brick. Light adobe have a density of 550 kg. The coefficient of thermal conductivity does not exceed 0.3. This means that compared to brick material, adobe is twice as warm. Saman in a dried state has a tensile strength of 50 kg per square centimeter.

Strength and ductility values ​​of clay and adobe plaster are increased by adding crushed dung to the mixture in dry and fresh form. A mixture of clay and manure, prepared at the rate of 10 to 1, is thoroughly kneaded and left alone for several days. During this period, the mixture is plasticized from the effects of digestive enzymes. It is important that the manure contains a sufficient amount of vegetable fibers, which give adobe strength.

Unauthorized construction is allowed in regions with seismic activity of no more than 8 points and in rural areas. One-story objects are built from this material, but the frame with diagonal ties is made from wood material treated with antiseptic compounds.

In places with increased seismic hazard, it is allowed to build two-story houses, if their base consists of reinforced concrete materials, and the ceilings of the second tier are based on the entire perimeter of the walls.

Advantages and disadvantages of adobe house

Consider the pros and cons inherent in the adobe house.

The rooms always maintain a comfortable microclimate. The main reason for this is the high hygroscopicity of the material. As soon as the humidity level rises in the house, the adobe surface absorbs surplus, accumulating water inside itself. On hot days, the accumulated moisture reserves are pushed into the air. Such walls can successfully replace air conditioning units and humidifiers.

It should be recalled that the material has an acceptable cost, since all the feedstock is of natural origin. In addition, the manufacturing process does not cause difficulties, since it excludes firing, which, for example, is required by brick or expanded clay.

Due to its impressive mass, the adobe wall is characterized by decent thermal inertia. In addition, the surfaces are distinguished by good sound insulation abilities even without additional decoration.

Adobe house has good fire resistance

Saman, containing a small amount of organics, has good resistance to fire. There are blocks made by special technology that do not ignite at all.

The presence of clay in aluminum allows good shielding of electromagnetic waves.

To make the picture complete, we will deal with the minuses of the adobe house.

Block material is not resistant to moisture. Для устранения этого недостатка в возведенном здании следует выполнить работы дополнительного характера – оштукатурить либо просто побелить известковым раствором стены, чтобы создать защищенность от воздействия на их поверхность атмосферных осадков.

If the material is prepared with a lot of added organics, you should prepare for the fact that insects and even rodents will get into it. In addition, this material is already less fireproof, because organic additives are highly flammable.

The houses just built from adobe should stand and dry for a long time if construction was carried out in regions with moderate climatic conditions. For hot areas, this feature is not characteristic. If the building is not given the opportunity to gain full strength, the organic matter contained in the blocks can cause rotting to begin. As a result, the microclimate in the room is no longer pleasant.

Construction of adobe houses is carried out in a limited period. The summer season is best suited for this.

Weakly compacted adobe walls give significant shrinkage, reaching 1/20 of the height of the wall.

The use of heavy adobe containing a minimum amount of organic additives will require additional work on the installation of insulation layers. In this case, it is recommended to use pressed straw, which is later plastered with clay or a clay-lime mixture.

If we consider labor costs, the manufacturing process has not changed much. Everything happens manually, specialized units are not used. Here's another drawback - productivity in the preparation of building materials is low.

Design features of the house from adobe

When constructing an adobe house, certain technologies are followed.

For example, when installing the ceiling, it is necessary to provide a margin of twenty-five to thirty centimeters. For this reason, a self-made adobe house gives a little more shrinkage. This feature should be provided, otherwise living in the room will be uncomfortable.

The basement should be protected from getting wet. For this purpose, in addition to roofing plumb lines, blind areas are being constructed.

Rodents easily enter the premises through adobe walls. To prevent this, it is recommended to strengthen the lower part during external finishing works with a fine-mesh metal mesh and cover with a special acrylic-based plaster composition. You can use special mixtures that repel rodents.

Exterior decoration of the adobe house begins a year after the building was built

All structural elements of the object, made of wood, must be treated with antiseptic compounds and means that impede the process of decay.

External finishing work is carried out a year after the building is built - you must wait until the shrinkage is over.

The nuances of building an adobe house

Before proceeding with the construction of an adobe structure, it is recommended to understand how to build an adobe house so that the finished object is operated for a long time. To do this, there is a whole list of a certain kind of recommendations that have been formed over hundreds of years. It is important that GOSTs for adobe construction simply do not exist. The master applies only his own experience and existing historical facts of construction.

Foundation construction

The foundation base for the adobe house under construction is arranged shallowly, reinforcement is mandatory when casting. The width of the base should be greater than the width of the adobe block by two tens of centimeters. Having installed the base, it should be finished on all sides with waterproofing material.

Features of roof installation in adobe house

A very steep roof is not suitable, the slope should be thirty - forty-five degrees. This allows to reduce the bursting forces from the roof to the walls of the structure. The assembly is carried out on the rafters, which are securely fixed in the strapping beam. Places in which wood comes into contact with clay are reliably insulated from moisture. The roofing protrusion should be at least seventy centimeters.

Facade decoration

It is recommended that the adobe walls be finished on the outside with vapor-tight acrylic-based stucco compounds, with the addition of lime or silicate.

Remember that building houses from adobe is prohibited in areas with high levels of humidity, in shaded areas. In places where the soil does not contain clay, building such houses is impractical.

We determine the necessary proportions of the components of adobe

In addition, we will conduct independent research. To do this, we will produce several samples in the form of cubes with face sizes of the order of 10-15 cm, and different proportions of clay and sand: from 1: 1 to 1: 5, in increments of 0.5.

Let the samples dry and harden - in the warm season it will take from three to five days - we will examine and test the samples.

With optimal proportions, the surface of the sample is hardly scratched with a fingernail, there are no cracks. Being dropped from one and a half to two meters onto a hard surface, the sample does not break. Shrinkage of the order of 1-3 percent is allowed.

Knead the adobe

Kneading the adobe mix The most time-consuming part of the job, for which it makes sense to rent a concrete mixer, is best suited with forced mixing of the mixture.

If there is no stirrer, we prepare the mixture in a shallow pit of about 1.5-2 meters and a depth of 10-15 cm. We cover it with a tarpaulin, another durable fabric, plastic film.

In the process of mixing, we gradually add fiber to the clay - chopped lightweight aggregate (straw is suitable), on average about 15% of the volume. The length of the fibers is regulated based on the convenience of mixing, but at the same time, the longer they are, the better.

Using a flexible canvas or fabric backing makes kneading easy. Periodically raising the edge of such a substrate, we collect the trampled mass in a lump, at the same time turning it over.

They knead the adobe, stamping it with their feet, which requires a certain skill, as well as the habit of walking barefoot.

When preparing the ingredients, make sure that glass and other sharp and cutting objects do not get into the mixture.

The better the mixture is mixed, the stronger the adobe.

We build a house from adobe with our own hands

There are two main methods of construction:

  1. We form blocks or bricks from adobe, dry them and put them on clay mortar as usual masonry.
  2. Adobe technique - we form walls directly on the spot from a fresh clay mixture.

The first method is simpler, more technologically advanced, but needs a flat platform for the production and drying of blocks. The second, more time-consuming, requires experience with adobe, good ductility and viscosity of the mixture.

In the work, the best of all is to combine both methods: lay out the main array of blocks, and form complex architectural elements and decorations in place.

We form masonry blocks

For work, we use wooden forms, which are rectangular cells without a bottom for two or three blocks measuring 19x19x40 cm. To protect against moisture, the boards should be lubricated with used engine oil.

Knead clay and forcefully cast into molds, additionally sealing with a tamper. We cut off the excess mass.

Raise the form up. In this case, the molded blocks remain lying on the site. Put the form next to it and stuff it with adobe mixture again.

Let the blocks dry for three to seven days, depending on the weather. When drying, avoid exposure to blocks of direct sunlight, strong winds, ideally make a canopy.

We lay the dried blocks in three or four tiers, with gaps for ventilation, alternating the tiers with gaskets from the racks. We put it under a canopy before the start of masonry work.

We lay the blocks on clay mortar, spraying the surface of the blocks with water for better adhesion.

In-place molding

With the adobe technique of building an adobe house with our own hands, we lay down the adobe mixture in layers directly into the structure. For the convenience of laying, you can use the formwork of wooden panels with a height of 45-50 cm, fastened so that a rectangular split box is formed.

We place the mass in the mold and seal it with a tamper with a flat or semicircular end.

After the form is filled, the mixture is well sealed, the formwork is removed and rearranged further along the row, close to the filled area. The process is repeated until we go through the entire tier.

Then we go up a tier higher and repeat the procedure. If the clay at the place of laying is dry, moisten it by spraying it with water, for example, using a broom.

We form complex products manually. At the same time, we put the adobe into the structure in small portions, dying with your fingers, or with a wooden pin 15-20 cm long with a rounded tip under the palm of your hand. For better traction on top of each layer we arrange longitudinal and transverse beads made of clay. For breaks in work, we trim the wall edge with a moist burlap, straw, cover it with a plastic film from drying out. This is especially true in hot, windy weather.

Ceilings and ceilings of the adobe house

Overlapping adobe buildings is traditionally arranged in the form of a vault, although the roof and roof can be traditional. To do this, we first arrange the supporting formwork in the form of a dome or arch, on which we lay blocks or clay mixture, reinforced with a wooden frame.

It’s difficult, and it’s better to get along with large rooms with wooden beams. And vaults and arches are limited to openings, narrow corridors, where it is easier to fulfill them.

Finishing works of adobe house

The roughness of adobe walls is easily eliminated. We cut off irregularities, moisten them with a brush and brush, wipe them with a felt grater and polish with a metal spatula. Or plaster with the same adobe, but without the addition of light and heavy fillers (clay, sand and water plaster)

To strengthen the walls, we use primer-paint from hydrated lime and water in the proportions of 1:15, with the addition of casein. We apply the mixture to the walls with a brush and smooth it with a metal spatula.

For coloring we use the following composition: 1 part fat-free cottage cheese, 2 parts lime, 3 parts water. The mixture is stirred, add 4% linseed oil, again thoroughly mixed. Apply with a soft brush.

The floors and horizontal surfaces are impregnated several times with linseed oil, and rubbed with oil-wax mastic. This treatment can withstand wet cleaning.

Pros and cons of adobe house

The first minus of the house from adobe is low technology. Each building requires an individual approach, "piece" selection of components.

The second minus is reliability. Yes, some buildings made of adobe cost a hundred or more years. However, usually in dry, hot places. In mid-latitudes, you need to constantly monitor the state of structures, timely repair damage. “Hooking” on a small crack or damage to the roof, frost and rain will bring the house into disrepair for a couple of decades.

Low resistance to damage by biological factors is greatly exaggerated. Lime with the addition of copper sulfate solves all problems. High-quality construction will help to avoid mold damage, and insects with rodents.

The main advantage of adobe houses is their “friendliness”. High hygroscopicity, a number of other properties make it possible to have a combination of parameters that is ideal for a person to live in.

Another plus is profitability. From this point of view, adobe is practically beyond competition.

And of course, one cannot fail to mention the possibility of self-expression that clay gives. In the literal sense, you can fashion everything that comes to mind from the adobe, having realized the most unusual, most daring plan - to build the house of your dreams.

Recommended Literature on adobe construction

G. Minke, “Clay concrete and its application”.

J. Evans, “The House from the Adobe: Philosophy and Practice.” - read with caution! To delve into technology only, not to delve into philosophy! Written by pendos, it contains destructive bookmarks, such as “forget it, go live in the forest”! Construction technology is described correctly, useful text pages 40.

Bill Mollison, "Introduction to Permaculture."

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