The molds are quickly removed and the bricks are dry in a matter of hours. Dung is often used as a stabilizer and natural insect repellant. Once dry, the manufacturer sends the finished bricks out for construction.
If you have to make your own mud bricks, don’t be surprised if your local building department asks you to conduct strength tests on your bricks.
Brick sizes vary, but adobe bricks are typically 4 inches tall, 10 inches wide, and 14 inches thick. The way in which you turn the bricks will create either a 10-inch- or a 14-inch-thick wall. The bricks are light enough to be lifted with two hands and stacked into the wall. Just like real bricks, a cement mortar is used to hold the bricks together.
Sun-baked adobe bricks offer a seemingly endless supply of building material, requiring only manual labor to create. No other energy is used, making adobe an incredibly green building option.
Dispelling Common Concerns about Adobe
The concept of using mud bricks may make you think of dust, cracking, or even melting walls. Here are the realities of an adobe home:
- Dust, allergies, and dirt are not part of the adobe experience. Because the walls are completely covered with plaster, the encapsulated bricks will not spread dirt around your home.
- Although rainwater will soak into the stucco, the insulation and the clay content in the brick resist the moisture.
- Adobe doesn’t burn. In fact, if your home catches fire, the wood roof, windows, and doors will burn away leaving the charred adobe walls intact.
- Minor cracking is part of any masonry material like adobe. Major cracks are a potential source of leaking or structural problems. Avoid these by using quality adobe bricks from a respected manufacturer. Ask the manufacturer for references of contractors who have used their products.
- If you want to hang pictures on the wall, just use simple hangers. For heavy items such as cabinets, you need to install some wood, called blocking, into the wall. The blocking acts as a secure spot to screw or nail into the wall.
How Adobe Works in a Home
Like most construction methods, the stacked adobe-brick walls are finished with stucco on the outside and plaster on the inside. The process is straightforward. After the foundation is poured, the adobe bricks are stacked row by row, as shown below. A layer of mortar is placed between each row of bricks. The mud bricks are slightly imperfect and misshapen, so they don’t create neat bands the way fired bricks would.
At window and door openings, a wood beam called a header is placed over the opening to hold up the bricks above it. Wooden blocks are placed around the openings. ....read more