Choosing Straw Bales for Home Construction

Straw bale home construction

Bale type, which size is best, how to handle moisture content, and what is the overall ideal bale for home construction – all common questions we hear at every workshop. BECAUSE getting the right bales is really important! This choice affects the amount of labor needed for installation, integrity of the wall system, plaster details, […]

A New Resource for Straw Bales

short straw bale

The bales you choose may be the most important decision you make on your house. In fact, the quality of your bales can literally make or break a project. There are several things to look for in a quality bale, which I’ve outlined in this article.

Straw Bale Broker Delivers Across the United States

straw bale in field

Looking for straw bales? I recently met a bale broker who can deliver quality straw bales across the US. He works with over 120 farms and many trucking companies to provide excellent service. I have used his bales and was very happy with them.

Baling With Jumbo Bales

Straw Bale Minute Video Series

Baling with jumbo bales, by which I mean the REALLY large bales that require pretty substantial machinery to place, is possible. However, there are multiple considerations that need to be addressed to determine if the extra cost in foundation materials, plaster and roofing materials make it worthwhile. In this Straw Bale Minute, I address each […]

Straw Bale Gardening

straw bale gardening

It’s not unusual to end up with extra bales after building a straw bale house. In fact, I recommend it.  Those extra bales are great to have around as steps or scaffolding supports when plastering. Furthermore, I would always rather have a few too many bales than not enough when building. The question is, what to do with the extra […]

Can I Stuff the Wall With This?

boy in straw in back of pick up truck

A question that I’ve been asked potentially thousands of times over the years teaching workshops is “can I stuff the wall with this?”. I like that people ask the question, actually, because it shows me that they are paying attention to the details and wanting to make the house the best it can be. The […]

Plastic Encased Straw Bales

Plastic Encased Straw Bales

Several of you have, over the years, written to me about using plastic encased straw bales in the construction of a home. The suggested benefits of this have ranged from no need for additional vapor barrier, to ease of stacking, to being able to mortar the blocks together. Although this would seem like a good […]

Buying the Right Straw

unloading straw bales from a trailer

There are a lot of things to consider when buying the best straw bales for your construction project. Here’s a bullet point list of the absolute “must haves.” 1. Long straw. Be sure to ask your source is the bales are long straw or chopped/thrashed straw. A bale harvested by a combine will be thrashed […]

Resizing Straw Bales with a Portable Sawmill

Portable saw mill cutting straw bales

Why would I want to do that? You may be asking yourself that very question and rightfully so. The answer may be simple or complicated depending on the situation. It may be that you have a series of wall sections that need thinner bales than the rest of the house due to framing and engineering […]

10 Reasons to Never Stack Your Bales on Edge

People Stacking Straw Bale Walls on Edge

There are so many reasons why I suggest you not build your house with the straw bales on edge. It’s hard to know where to start. I’ll just lay out the first ten that come to mind. 1. Strings on the exposed face mean no notching around posts and thus a thermal break at each […]

Straw Bale Moisture Meter: A Tool You Absolutely Must Have

straw bale moisture meter

If you plan to build with bales, you absolutely must have a straw bale moisture meter with a probe. It is so valuable that I consider it a “must have,” not a “it would be cool to have” tool. Use the straw bale moisture meter to check the moisture levels of bales before you buy […]

Two String vs. Three String Bales for Straw Bale Construction

large straw bale

 What is the perfect bale to use in a straw bale house? I am asked this question a lot. Most times, the question refers to what type of straw is the best. Some people say rice, others say wheat. I always tell people to buy what is most local as long as it is dense, […]

Could Rice Straw be the Answer to Building with Bales in Humid Climates?

rice field in Bali

I received the following comment on my old blog. It got me thinking about building with bales in humid climates and rice straw. I noticed that many of the humid climates are actually where rice grows and thrives. To that end, I wondered if it might really be possible to build with bales in a […]

Finding Construction Grade Straw Bales For Sale Online – StrawBale.com

round straw bales

There is a new website out there that helps people find construction grade straw bales all over the United States. They can deliver as well and have a price break for those buying in bulk. The website is very well designed and I hope will prove to be a great asset to us bale builders […]

Throw Away Your Weedwhacker on Your Straw Bale Build

straw bale tool invention

Throw away your weedwhacker on your straw bale build! For years now I have been using a weedwhacker to smooth the walls of every straw bale house I have built. But no more!  From now on, I plan to use this cool invention created at my last workshop here in Jacksonville. Here’s the history. Several […]

Getting Bales Off the Stack (Without Squishing Your Friends!)

unloading straw bales

When building a straw bale house, the bales are likely delivered to the site in squeeze blocks: tall 8′ x 8′ blocks of straw bales. Here’s a simple solution for getting bales off the stack and top of the delivered pile to the ground where you can handle them. In most cases, people climb their […]

Tightening Bale Ends in the Wall – StrawBale.com

turning fencing

One situation you are likely to find yourself in when building a straw bale house is the ends of bales sticking too far into a room or beyond the plumb line of an exterior wall. As you know, when you build a bale house, you interlock the corners by placing one bale East-West and then […]

A Snake in the Grass (or Straw) – StrawBale.com

snake

A snake in the grass! I always remind people to clear the loose straw from their job sites for several reasons. The first reason is always fire protection. The second is for slip protection. The third and new reason is for snakes! I live in an area with rattlesnakes among other less dangerous ones. I […]

The Importance of Knowing Your Bale Source – StrawBale.com

old straw bale wagon

I partly wrote this post just so I could use this picture, I admit it. Cool picture though huh? I often talk about knowing your bale source before you start building and even designing so you can know the dimensions and how those dimensions will affect your process. I cannot say how important this is, […]

Straw Bale Construction Jobsite Multi Purpose Tool

nothing straw bale

 Perhaps the greatest straw bale construction jobsite multi purpose tool is the straw bales themselves. Of course, I LOVE the straw bale needles I use, but there is nothing quite as amazing as the many uses of straw bales on a site. I use them as a free standing table when retying bales and notching […]

What To Do With Old, Wet Bales – StrawBale.com

growing plants in straw bales

Wondering what to do with old, wet bales? There is a good chance you will have a lot of straw left over when you complete your house. Most of it, if you did your estimating right, will be in the form of loose straw. You will be amazed at just how much loose straw is […]

Protecting Your Bales Before Construction – StrawBale.com

straw bales being unloaded

All too often the conversation about protecting your bales before construction is held without any mention of how to protect those bales prior to their installation. So, how do you protect the bales once they arrive on site and before you install them? For some reason, most likely Murphy’s Law, it will rain once the […]

How to Retie Straw Bales: Part Two – StrawBale.com

tying straw bale

On November 16th, I wrote a blog entry about how to retie straw bales, the new way! The new way is to use the Miller’s knot instead of the trucker’s hitch which has been used for years. In the first half of this two part entry, I showed you the basics of how the knot […]

Retying Straw Bales Part I – StrawBale.com

Miller's knot

Retying straw bales is one of the most important techniques on a straw bale construction job site. You will be required to retie many bales over the course of the construction and each retying episode will take time. It is not a fast process to retie bales so every step that can be done more […]