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Building Materials: Adobe

Article: uses of adobe as a building material.

A natural composite, adobe is made from straw mixed with clay, and then with water and sand to act as binders.  In some cases, manure is used.  The binders, along with an even drying time (often finished in the shade), help prevent cracking.

Image Source: ComeOnHome.Biz

Image Source: ComeOnHome.Biz

How & why adobe

  • Adobe uses a system of wooden framework for even shaping
  • Primarily molded into brick form and then dried in the sun
  • Because the wooded framework used to shape the bricks can be so easily altered, adobe is a ‘flexible’ material to use
  • Nearly any size or shape of brick can be made
    • Although for larger sizes, extra binders may be necessary, or reinforcement such as cement or rebar.

Advantages of adobe:

  • Durability
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Inherently fire proof
  • Naturally toxin-free
  • One of the oldest building materials used
  • In many countries still used to this day, especially in tropical or arid countries with hot days and cool nights
  • Thermal properties (thermal mass), which evens out changing temperatures in the surrounding environment into the living space
    • After several hours of sunlight heating the adobe, it transfers the heat through the walls into the structure
    • When the sun goes down along with the temperature outside, the heat continues to slowly seep from within the walls, creating an overall even temperature inside the home.

Uses by geography

Adobe building is still embraced in many countries and regions such as:

  • Mexico
  • Middle East
  • China
  • America
  • Eastern Europe
  • In the West, where it’s making a comeback, especially among ‘eco warriers’.

A beautiful example

In Iran at the UNESCO World Heritage cite lies the citadel of Bam, known to be the largest structure made from adobe and dating back to at least the 6th to 4th centuries BC.

Sadly Bam is also a good example of one of the drawbacks of adobe:

  • When an earthquake struck in 2003, 80% of the entire city was destroyed.

One comment on “Building Materials: Adobe

  1. Pingback: Building Materials: Adobe | Property Futures »

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This entry was posted on May 6, 2013 by in construction and tagged , , , .

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