Tyvek and Straw Bale Construction

Written by Andrew Morrison


house wrapI have been on vacation, of sorts, for the last week…actually, I have been at ice hockey camp with my wife and son and I am more sore than I have ever been before! Sorry for the lack of posts in the meantime. I have been responding to people’s emails off blog and came across a simple but important question last night. I was asked about wrapping the bottom courses in Tyvek house wrap to protect from rain splash, which is required by code in some locations.

If you plan to do this, the easiest way is to wrap the Tyvek over the course you plan to end on and leave it on the face of the toe-up/sill to the outside of the house. That way, if any water collects on the inside face of the wrap, it has a path out of the building instead of being directed back into the bales (if you wrap the Tyvek under the bottom course). Once in place, you will need to secure mesh of some kind to provide structural support for the plaster as plaster will not hang on the Tyvek at all. You can wrap the mesh onto the top of the same course of bales as the Tyvek and secure it with landscape pins. Then add the next course of bales and continue on your way. This is the best way to anchor the mesh so it will hold the plaster well.

In some locations, it is a better idea to build small pony walls to set the bales up on to avoid rain splash and the use of Tyvek or other house wrap paper. This also provides a chase for electrical or plumbing installations at the base of the wall. If you live in a location with a lot of rain and you anticipate a lot of rain splash on your walls, I recommend that you use the pony wall system in place of the house wrap. It takes more labor and costs more, but provides superior protection and actually lowers the cost of the electrical and plumbing installations.

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