Baling Angular Walls

Written by Andrew Morrison

finished straw bale exteriorNot everyone wants square walls in their house. Some people like round walls, others prefer angular walls. In this post, I give you a simple way to create angular walls in your straw bale home. As always, there are several ways to achieve any one goal, and I’m sharing my favorite way to create the angular walls, not the only way.

I prefer to use a framed structure in all of my straw bale homes, and especially when I am making corners that do not intersect at 90 degrees. Attempting to make corners in an octagonal building with load bearing bales is, in my opinion, risky and not a good idea. The most obvious place for posts in angular walls is where the angle changes. This is because the roof needs to bear directly above those areas in order to properly support the framing and potential roof loads such as snow, etc.

straw bale house Octagonal CornersUse the framing to your advantage. At each post, install additional framed sections that create a vertical stopping point for the bales. I use framing lumber and OSB or plywood to make a structural bale stop as shown in the photo to the left. These stopping points allow you to pack the bales tightly into each transition and also provide a nailing surface for the mesh which will eventually stretch over the wall surface and around the corners.

Once you have stacked and “cleaned up” all of your bales, and added the roofing felt to any exposed wood (as you would normally do), move to completing the corners. Add mesh to the bottom of the corner either at a pre-formed angle (if you want a hard corner), or pulled to form a gentle curve, whichever you prefer. Either way, start at the bottom with only a few feet of mesh (measured from the bottom up) so that you can access the corner and stuff it tightly with straw. Overlap the next piece of mesh  by at least 6″ and work your way up the wall adding stuffing and mesh as you go.

It may be easier to stuff the very top of the wall before you complete the section directly below it. Once the majority of the corner is stuffed, complete the top section and then fill the final space of the wall between that which you stuffed up and stuffed down. It’s simply easier to finish in the middle of the wall, when measured vertically, than at the very top.

This is a simple, strong, effective and fast way to make angular corners in any straw bale structure.

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8 Responses

  1. Hi Tim. We don’t currently sell these plans. The structure is actually a waldorf kindergarten in New York state, not a home, so the interior would need to be addressed if it were to be used as a home.

  2. Hi Tim,
    We (husband and wife, but wife writing so may not use all the proper terms 🙂 ) are in the finishing stages of a two story in-fill, every layer is pinned with bamboo, cross bracing and is tight. Our bucks are stout, the depth of a bale, The part we are finding very little info on is what is the best thing to do for the top cap or the top bale that is in the eves. We know we need to stucco the top along with very thing else but what details are we missing for the finish at this stage. We can send pictures if that would help 🙂 and send more details privately.
    Thank you
    Great site!

  3. Hi DJ. I am not clear about what part is causing you trouble. Sorry. The top bale in the wall should be tight up agains the box beam and secured in place via compression and the bamboo pins you speak of. The bales in the gable (triangular section of the roof) should be placed tightly on top of the box beam and jammed into the rafters. The triangular spaces that remain are then filled with stuffing against 2″x2″ wire mesh (on both sides of the wall) which is then sewn tight from one side of the wall to the other. Hopefully this helps answer your question.

  4. Hello Andrew,

    Your enewsletter updates are fantastic, very informative – thank you!
    I am currently building a hexagonal bale house (in Ontario, Canada). Basically I’m making an existing open gazebo structure into a livable house/cottage. So the wall structure and framing is all there and your tips have helped greatly with the methodology and process for bale building. However, keeping to my strong ethics of using local and low cost supplies it’s looking like soy bean bales will be the most cost effective and local option. Would you have any input on this? Instead of straw as the material, I would be baling the dried soy bean stalks after harvest in the same method for stacking and wall construction. Same intention and outcome, just different organic material.
    Soy bean stalks would be more coarse than straw so I’m thinking perhaps the R-value would be slightly reduced but if tightly packed/strung would still provide ample insulative value. Alternatively, I have options for adzuki bean bales as well which is slightly less coarse than soy bean, somewhere in between straw and soy…
    Any thoughts or advice is very much appreciated o wise one!
    Thank you again for such a great website and educational resource!!


  5. Hi Brian. Thanks for your kind words. I’m glad to have been of service as you build. I don’t have any experience with those crops, so I can’t say precisely. I would suggest that as long as the crop is free from food source, totally dead and dry, and packed with a high density, you should be fine to use it.

  6. For filling in the gable, the strapping method might also work well. Friends compressed both the main wall section and the full bale part of the gable section. Might be a bit overkill, but works rather well..

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