DIY Papercrete Block Wall
Do It Yourself Papercrete Wall — July 2012.
I found this wall in the Nob Hill area that seemed to be a few hundred years old…Papercrete walls use newspaper, lottery tickets & phone books…seriously–lottery tickets and old phone books. The Do-It-Yourself concrete looking wall above reminds me of hundreds of years old concrete walls from upstate NY, where I grew up, built centuries before I was born, and still standing strong. This creative wall may also stand the tests of time.
I learned about Papercrete when I attended the 13th Annual US Greenbuilt Tour, featuring numerous healthy, green-designed homes and properties. One of the award-winning properties, in the UNM area, incorporated numerous green features into the remodel, including the Papercrete wall above. Papercrete is a construction material which consists of repulped paper fiber with cement or clay and/or other soil added. A Papercrete property wall involves very little cost to start. The materials are cheap and widely available, as mentioned, any wood fiber would work–phonebooks & newspapers are numerous and easy to find. The mixture has the appearance and texture of oatmeal and is poured into forms and dried in the sun, much like the process for making adobe. In its natural state, it is a grey, fibrous-looking wall. For a more conventional look, stucco can be applied directly to it. Papercrete’s ready moldability provides considerable flexibility in the shape of the design: you can make almost any design: domed ceilings/roofs may be commonly constructed from Papercrete.
Papercrete can be a good insulator. Concrete and wood are not known for their insulating qualities; however, papercrete also provides good insulation. Its R-value is reported to be within 2.0 and 3.0 per inch; papercrete walls are typically 10 to 12 inches thick, which has a total R-value of R24-36, the value often given to ceilings and walls. Unlike concrete or adobe, Papercrete blocks are lightweight, less than a third of the weight of a comparably-sized adobe brick. Papercrete is mold resistant and is beneficial as a soundproofing material.
This Greenbuilt Tour home is located just to the east of the UNM campus. Besides the great Papercrete wall, the owners also employed numerous other greenbuilding techniques. They fashioned a 2000 gallon backyard water catchment cistern, that collects water from the roof of the home, and the garage roof. The cistern (above) and garage walls are both made from tires filled with compacted earth and covered in El Rey Stucco. The owners reused everything possible during the remodel, including reusing the lathe and plaster from the original 1920’s walls!