What Can I Make With Papercrete?

This versatile material has so many practical uses that it will be impossible to list them all here. Imagination serves better to compile a list. Due to its semiliquid state as a mix, like concrete, it can be cast and molded into countless shapes and allowed to cure hard. Just as concrete can be cast into various forms, like vases and planter boxes, so also can Papercrete be cast in molds. One quality of Papercrete must be acknowledged before casting it, and that is that it loses water just after pouring into a form or mold, and this loss of water causes it to settle to a lower level. If more mix is added after about 20 minutes, then this settling and shrinking can be compensated.

The obvious candidate for Papercrete is blocks for building, but that is only a tiny fraction of the building shapes possible. It can be poured into large, shallow forms to make panels, and then these panels can be used to cover walls, make partitions, make boxes, etc. Some people are using Papercrete to make furniture, fences, planters... Play with it for a few days and you will easily think of new uses for it.

If Papercrete is made with extra cement (more than a pound of cement to a pound of paper), it serves well as both mortar, for building with Papercrete blocks, and plaster, for covering the finished wall. By using less cement, one can make panels for insulation and use instead of commercial foam or spun fiberglass.

"Can I build with Papercrete in a wet climate?" I am often asked this question. Since Papercrete is mostly wood fibers, it needs the same protection from moisture that wood requires. Papercrete will not soften when wet, but it will begin to get moldy. So it must be kept dry. One person suggested adding lime (high pH) to the mix to make it too alkaline for mold to live. I have not tried this, but it might work. Also, Papercrete can be painted, just like wood.

Walls of papercrete should be built on top of short walls of concrete or stone, to raise them up off the slab and to keep them out of the reach of splashing water. Adobe walls have been made like this for centuries - built on top of stone walls - because adobe will quickly soften and collapse when wet, unless stabilized with cement. Since Papercrete will not bond well to a concrete or stone wall, adding short pieces of rebar or even nails to the wet wall will give the Papercrete somthing to grab onto.

See examples of houses made from papercrete and Fibrous Adobe here.

More information is in the FAQ.

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