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Understanding Adobe Construction Efficiency and Sustainability

Adobe Construction Efficiency and Sustainability

For many centuries now, adobe construction remains a preference for several people. Statistics indicate that in the present time, approximately 30% of the population in the world live in shelters that constitute of earth materials. Adobe is not an exception, and individuals living in the deserted areas of North America and New Mexico have also considered this method of earth construction. However, it comes with benefits and challenges that you need to understand. In this article, we will try to figure out and understand on adobe construction efficiency and sustainability.

What is Adobe Construction?

Adobe construction is the use of sun-dried bricks during the building process. The approach involves preparing the adobe with various components like sand, water, clay, straw or grass mixed up by hand in a wooden mold. Some will involve the use of gravel. It is then dried. Traditionally the drying was entirely dependent on the sun. The bricks guarantee strength. That’s why some natural buildings that adopted adobe construction still stand up to today.

The end products of the preparation are bricks with varying properties like color, texture and strength.  Adobe construction approach has changed with the advancement in technology, and builders now consider modernizing the process. They utilize cement and asphalt to have the bricks stronger.

A Concise History on the Use of Adobe Construction

Adobe construction in North America is said to have commenced many centuries ago. In the 16th Century is when the traditional building methods became very common. The Egyptians were the first to be associated with the use of adobe, and later the Spanish during the 18th Century. In North America, the architecture became common and popular within the desert climates, especially the areas occupied by New Mexico.

To evidence the use of Adobe many centuries ago, the San Xavier del Bac Mission constructed with adobe still stands up to today. Located in Arizona, the structure was built in 1700 by a missionary explorer, Father Eusebio. Completed in 1797, the mission played a key role in the Spanish colonization.

Adobe Construction Efficiency

Many people tend to debate on the efficiency of the adobe construction. So, how efficient is adobe construction? Well, it all depends on your approaches during the construction and brick preparation process. The following is an explanation of the adobe construction efficiency techniques that guarantee adobe construction efficiency.

Prepare bricks from sand, clay, straw, or grass and water. Mix until you feel a plastic consistency. Grass gives reinforcement and uniformity and ensures that when they dry, strength is guaranteed. Place the prepared mud on the wooden forms, level with hands, and later on remove the forms. Leave the bricks to dry for a minimum of 4 days.

The use of mortar with the same properties as the brick gives excellent results. Today, people prefer to use the cement mortar, which is also fine. What is key is stability and compatibility. If the mortars are incompatible and unstable, the thermal expansion varies and the bricks formed will not be high quality as expected.

When building foundations, consider a very strong material. For instance, in many adobe constructions built many years ago, the use of adobe on the foundation was boosted. What I mean is that builders would incorporate fieldstones, double walls filled with stones and seashells. Today you can choose a different material in the basement for maximum foundation strength.

Walls, roofs, and floors in adobe construction have a key role to play in the success of the entire project. Adobe walls are massive and their use dated back in the 16th Century. Adobe roofing was prevalent back then, but today, people prefer metal roofing. On the floors, the bricks are used and later polished with tiles.

Choosing adobe construction is effective because it guarantees maximum utilization of materials, money-saving and you get excellent results.

Adobe Construction Sustainability

Adobe surfaces require a lot of attention. That’s why protection of the surface coatings with whitewash, lime plaster, mud plaster and stucco is key.

In modern Adobe construction, you can check the soil components to weigh sustainability. Enhanced properties boost the adobe bricks making them more acceptable even on projects that require high-end quality and strength.

Note that the adobe will not entirely bond with the wood, metal or stones. It is because it exhibits some movements which might be greater and cause cracks and separation. The physical properties of the adobe seem to be a limiting factor at times, but when damages occur, rehabilitation guarantees strength and durability.


Adobe construction requires keenness to be perfected. Understand what is expected, the efficiency and also sustainability of the building approach. Many individuals have done the construction successfully, and with modern interventions in place, the use of bricks remains a fashionable building approach to consider.

Building a Bamboo House- Everything That You Should Know Before Building It

Building a Bamboo House

Bamboo has remained to be one of the untapped materials in the construction industry. As a construction material, it is relatively inexpensive and readily available, especially in bamboo growing countries. Despite the low preference of this material in the construction industry, constructors have started to increase their attention to it in recent years. However, the question in contention is whether it is worth building a bamboo house. Here are a few thoughts towards such a dilemma.

How Bamboo Has Been Incorporated in the Construction Industry

Bamboo has been incorporated in the mainstream construction industry interestingly. Some construction companies have adopted this material in creating a wide range of construction materials such as screens, panels, and interior house accessories.

However, some people have held on to traditional bamboo housing techniques, especially in Asian and Latin American countries where bamboo gardens are in plenty. Most of these people use bamboo in building survival shelters.

The Best type of Construction Bamboo

There are roughly about 1500 bamboo species that are known on the planet. However, only a few of the species are ideal for construction. Valuable species that are ideal for construction are Guadua, Dendrocalamus, Phyllostachys, and Guadua Angustifolia.  The Guadua species has gained a lot of popularity, and there is a lot of campaign to invest in planting them. 

Benefits of Using Bamboo as a Construction Material

There are a couple of benefits that bamboo adds in construction. Some of these benefits are:

  • They are 35% better in absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen in the air compared with hardwood trees
  • There is very little waste generated in their usage. Virtually every part of the bamboo plant is used in a particular function
  • Bamboo is versatile and can be used in different applications other than construction. It can be used in making furniture, flooring, charcoal, and paper.
  • Bamboo is safe due to its lightweight and is ideal for earthquake-prone areas due to its elasticity
  • Bamboo houses are comfortable especially in tropical regions where there are extremely high temperatures during summer
  • Bamboo requires minimal technology during construction. Therefore, its usage cuts down the costs used in including technology in the construction
  • Bamboo houses are durable as long as you choose the right species, consider the proper preservation techniques and replace outdated parts regularly

Considerations for Building a Bamboo House

Constructing a bamboo house involves simple DIY procedures that are easy to consider. You only need help from one person or two to get the job done. Building a bamboo house involves the following:

Pick the Right Bamboo for Construction

The best bamboo for construction should have a sturdy and columnar structure. Cut them down to size with a sharp machete. You do not need any nails for the construction, making the process more convenient. You also need vines and stakes to join the bamboo trees together.

Look for an Ideal Building Spot

A good bamboo house construction spot should be close to a reliable source of water, firm, and dry. Also, the location needs to be flat and close to a bamboo garden or groove to ease your movement.

Prepare the Bamboo

There are two ways that one should prepare the bamboo. The first option involves stripping the bamboo and weaving them into walls. In this process, the bamboo walls need plastering with mud to make a sturdy wall.

The second option involves setting up bamboo poles and erecting a roof on top, leaving space on the side.

Each option has its purpose. The first option is ideal for a complete house, which can survive an extended period while the second one is good for a temporary resting place.

Build the Foundation

Look for four large and sturdy bamboo poles that you will set up at the corner of your house. Dig the holes to place the poles and ensure that it is about a foot or so. Cover the tips of the poles with a plastic bag before you insert them into the hole. This is essential in protecting the columns from moisture once they are in the ground.

Create the Wall Frame

Once the foundation is complete, you should choose to use weaved wall or fill in the spaces between the columns with slimmer bamboo strips. The slender poles should be a meter away from each other to allow smaller poles to be nailed on them.

Erect the Roof

Ordinarily, bamboo houses use truss to build the roof. It starts with the roof frame to hold the roofing material. Once it is done, one can proceed in completing the roof using materials such as sheet metal, tarp, tree bark, or slate.

Finish the Construction

Complete the construction process by adding windows, doors, and the floor. Once you are done with this process, you can settle into your shelter.


Constructing a bamboo house is quite simple. Even so, you need to be aware that such constructions are not sturdy enough to withstand harsh weather and strong earthquake. All the same, if you are looking to build a shelter to relax during summer, then building a bamboo house should be your first idea.

Everything You Need to Know About Brick Masonry

Different Types of Brick Masonry

People all around the world are using different kinds of construction methods, depending on the resources that are available to them. Reinforced steel and concrete in combination with bulletproof glass are not an affordable option for everyone.

Most people use natural construction techniques, with materials like clay and mud to construct their homes. Although these techniques provide solid steadiness, and good insulation if applied properly, they do require a lot of skill, and they are time-consuming.

They are also considered to be primitive methods of masonry because the possible repairs require a lot of resources and hard work. The next logical step in the evolution of masonry is bricklaying, where courses or rows of bricks are placed on top of one another to build up a construction.

Brick masonry is a popular mechanism for construction, and examples of primitive brickwork dates as far back as the Bronze Age. Of course, modern brick masonry is the result of the centuries of evolution and improvement, and today, skilled and experienced bricklayers use several different techniques.

Brick masonry is a long-lasting form of construction, and it basically requires putting bricks in the mortar by using different bonding methods to construct durable mass that can resist shock, pressures and natural disasters. There are different types of bricks and mortars, and the cheapest type is brickwork in the mud.

This technique requires using mud as mortar to fill the holes and joints between the bricks. Mortar joints are constructed in such a way, that they are thick enough to hold the structure together, and their thickness should be at least 12 mm.

This method has its limitations, as it can only be used to construct walls up to 4m high. It requires the use of good quality bricks and ensuring that brick courses are placed absolutely horizontal. To ensure structural stability, the thickness of the mortar joints should be at least 10 mm, whether you use common clay bricks, engineering bricks or concrete bricks.

Also, since mud is not such a durable medium as concrete, you should check the level of the ground, and set the layout of the building structure with high precision to ensure the stability and good balance.

Brickwork in cement requires using cement as the glue to hold brock joints together and laying bricks in cement mortar which is more durable and stronger than mud. This technique provides more structural stability, and it depends on the types of bricks and bonds used to form the courses.

For constructing temporary structures, usually in dry places where humidity is not a problem, softer, rough-surfaced bricks are used. These bricks have a distorted shape, and they are considered to be third-class bricks in regard to their quality.

They are suitable to form a stretcher bond which is the simplest repeating pattern in bricklaying, where bricks are laid flat with its longest narrow side exposed, overlapping in the middle with the bricks below and above them.

Second class bricks are usually rough and ground molded, and slightly irregular in shape. To provide the best durability, the thickness of the mortar joints should be at least 12 mm. They can be formed into a header bond where the shorter face of the bricks is faced upon each other. Unlike the stretcher bond, the header bond is used to construct the walls with a full brick thickness.

A combination of header and stretcher bond can also be used, and it is called the English bond, where one course of bricks is placed in the header form, and the next one is placed in a stretcher form. The possible gaps are closed by using the quoin closer, which is a brick cut into two halves and used at corners to close the gaps in brick walls.

The first class clay brick is used with the cement of lime mortar, where the depth of mortar joints is not more than 10mm. These bricks have sharp edges and smooth surfaces, and their quality is superior compared to other brick classes. They are molded and burnt in large furnaces and are therefore more durable.

Once the foundation wall is cured and bricklaying can begin, these bricks can be used with steel or reinforced concrete to construct complex structures using the Flemish bond, where bricks are placed as headers and stretchers alternatingly, in a single course. This technique requires great skill and experience but it provides a unique aesthetic look. Other types of bonds might match your taste, and you should choose which one to apply if you are planning to do some bricklaying yourself.

The Top 10 Natural Building Materials

Natural Building Materials

Natural building materials are ideal for any construction since they help in reducing the use of human-made materials and products that require intense energy in manufacturing. This means that there is a guarantee of reduced damaged to the environment since there is no fossil fuel consumed, which is one of the leading causes of environmental pollution. The good news is that people continue to give the material preference up to today. This article focuses on the top 10 list of natural building materials you need to consider during your next project.


Adobe is sun-dried bricks made out of the mud and continues to get preference in various places. On some occasions, constructors add straw as additives to create a better mixture. Constructors use wooden forms to make small bricks that will be left out in the sun to dry.

This kind of material is quite ancient and can date back to 6000BC. However, it is quite ideal since its thermal mass can keep a house warm during winter and cool during summer.


Cob is quite close to adobe, but the main difference is the technique of construction. It also features mud, water, and additive of clay and straw. Cob does not use any bricks but is a spherical unit that builds a continuous structure. It can take any form, and this plays a significant advantage and disadvantage of cob construction.


Wood is one of the most common natural building materials used nowadays. It features different building purposes, such as framing, flooring, and trimming. Wood is available in both hardwood and softwood, and you can choose either type depending on the climate and region.

However, the best choice is the hardwood since it offers excellent durability compared with the softwoods. Apart from that, wood has unique thermal properties and can sustain high temperatures. It also has excellent acoustic features that make it ideal in absorbing sounds, excellent mechanical and electrical properties, as well.


Cordwood is what is considered as firewood. However, in this case, you can use the firewood to construct a house. The construction involves setting up the wood in an organized structure that makes the wall.

Constructors can use mortar to hold the wood together or use the wood without any additive. You can use mud or cement to plaster the wood to create a good finish. Wood has excellent thermal mass, making it ideal for modern construction.


Masonry includes natural stones and bricks, which have been used over time. It marks the best form of natural material used in construction due to its extreme durability and ability to survive the harsh climate. It holds the best position over time since there is nothing else better that has been invented yet.

Earth Bags

Earth bags have been a popular military form of protection for quite some time. The military usually uses earth bags to create a protective barrier against flooding and other elements that come along with harsh weather. It can also be ideal in creating a substantial wall needed for temporary use.


Bamboo is among the fast-growing natural building materials used in construction, due to its excellent durability and light-weight. Constructors can use bamboo in different building purposes or making small temporary structures.

Reclaimed materials

In construction, there is a lot of materials produced, and some will go to waste. Such waste, although not all of it, can be suitable for building purposes, although they might seem unusable. All that one needs to do is constitute the materials and reuse in different construction purposes, such as making pavements and walkways.

You should, however, ensure that the respective material suits the place of need. Also, ensure the reclaimed materials are ideal for use and will not result in a negative effect.

Rammed Earth

Rammed earth uses soil mixed with clay and sand, which are compressed together to make a vertical surface. Agreeably, the process is quite labor-intensive and might take a lot of energy compared with other materials. However, rammed earth proves to be fireproof, durable, and has excellent thermal mass, making it ideal for constructions in both warm and cold regions.

Modern rammed earth usually uses cement as the binder to make a form that is similar to concrete, making it more durable.


Straw bales have become a rising type of material used in the Southwestern Part of the U.S. It is a renewable energy material with remarkable insulation properties and an added benefit of fire-resistance. It is also used as infills for buildings with timber frames.


The above-stated top 10 list of natural building materials are ideal for your consideration. Your choice depends on different factors, such as availability, what you are constructing, and cost. Therefore, before you make up your mind on one of them, make sure that you do a thorough evaluation of the material to make the best choice.