Building Straw Bale Houses

What exactly is a Straw Bale Home?

A Straw Bale home is exactly what it sounds like; it’s a home constructed with Straw Bales. This sustainable method of building uses baled straw from wheat, rice, rye or oats to construct and insulate the home.

Every year, over 200 million tons of straw goes unused in the United States. For this reason, straw has become a popular eco-friendly, cost effective building materiel.

Straw Bale homes are constructed by stacking rows of straw bales with a moisture barrier between the bales and the supporting platform. The bales can be used to provide the structural integrity of the building, the insulation of the building, or both.

There are two Types of Straw Bale Homes:

  1. Load-Bearing: Known as the Nebraska Style, the first type is one where the homes structural supports are built using straw bales. In this method there are no traditional beams; the bales literally create the load bearing walls, and are responsible for much of what would be accomplished with traditional framing methods.
  2. Post-and-beam infill: The second type of home uses the bales strictly for insulation. These homes use traditional framing to build the home, and the walls are filled with straw bale as an insulation. These are usually easier to get approved in areas with strict zoning codes.

Why would someone use Straw?

Building with straw bales is about three times as efficient as conventional framing and its insulation properties can reduce energy costs by up to 75%.

Building with bales of straw has become very popular and can be seen in many areas of the Southwestern United States. Straw is a renewable building material and is a great insulator from the elements.

Examples of Straw Bale Homes

Straw Bale Home With Grass Roof
Straw Bale Home in the Desert
Straw Bale Home

Straw Bale Library Building
Straw Bale Home

Strawbale Resources:

Shirts of Liberty

OFFGRID Survival book



    • Only if it gets wet, as with nearly any non-concrete building material (wood, dry-wall, etc.) But if you keep the straw dry during construction the building can last for centuries.
      The bales also make a natural fire retardant, as opposed to traditional building materials and methods. Because the straw is packed to tightly the oxygen necessary for fire can’t get in and it smolders and goes out. Ever try and burn a full phonebook in a fireplace? ;)

  1. I thought this might be a problem when I first started looking into strawbale homes, but as long as the straw stays dry, you will not have a problem with mold.

    People who have used it say that it is actually a better option than most conventional insulation because water vapor can move in and out of straw bale. That helps to reduce the chance of mold growing in the walls.

    If a straw bale gets wet or rained on I would not use it!

    As far as how long it lasts, there are some houses that are over 100 years old with the same straw bale construction.

    • i watched a show on cob house building which is a mixture of clay ,sand and straw and it showed a building that had been built in the 1700’s that are still standing and they said the key is that they have good shoes and a good hat meaning a good foundation and roof this building was over in england

    • There was a company in Manitoba Canada that was actually making construction material out of straw. Guess what happened?? Government shut them down sating that the material were hazardous and would internally com bust. Believable? No. The problem was it was extremely inexpensive to buy and heat/cool them home.
      Now there are acres of rotting bales close to the city.

      • I live near the old straw board plant. They were not shut down by anyone. There were problems with their manufacturing process and they went bankrupt despite the government contributing millions to get them up and running.

    • depends. i live out in Spokompton and we have fairly dry weather during the summer and occassionally mild winters. it really doesn’t rain here as much as it does in Seattle or Tacoma. I would think that as long as the straw itself doesnt get wet/damp during construction you should be fine – by the time it’s all sealed with clay/lime it should be fairly waterproof.

  2. Although I have heard of people building them up there, I probably wouldn’t build one in a place with a lot of moisture, I would worry about mold.

  3. I like these houses but I am building a tiny house on wheels. It is good to be able to move the house when needed. It doesn´t need a lot of energy, you can make it your self.

  4. Strawbale houses are perfect everywhere. Once the walls are sealed no moisture gets in. There is one in downtown Seattle.The roof needs to extend 3 or 4 feet out from the walls. Do some research the houses are amazing.

  5. My “neighbor” down the road built a straw bail home. His heating/cooling cost are incredibly low. He treated his bails with a fungicide and a fire retarding chemical as well. A very very nice home. Considering doing this on our property up in the mountains!!!!!!

    • Does anyone know what fungicide and fire retardant you would use to spray on this type home? Also – what about insuring them? Thanks!

  6. They do not need fire retardant they can not get oxygen to burn since they are coated with a concrete or clay material. Also has anyone ever This is for those that fear the construction. But to be honest there have been alot of test done for structure stability and fire and etc. It shows that is not a problem if they are biult properly.

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