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Rammed Earth

Rammed Earth: When Raw Materials Come Together with Ancient Methods

First used in China dating back to 5,000 BCE, explore what a rammed earth building is, the construction process, and the benefits of its durability and strength.

 One of the Seven Wonders of the World was originally built from rammed earth.
Parts of the original structure still remain, showing the durability of this ancient technology.
Keep reading to find out how the modern world views and uses rammed earth after thousands of years.

Revadim Our Story

Rammed Earth is a type of construction that my brother Yaar & I built up to from our past building experiences. We started in construction with our father. We lived in a small town called Tekoa in the northern part of the Judean Desert in Israel. Yaar and I worked with him on various projects until we were able to go out on our own.

 

 

Yedidya

Yaar

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Design & Architecture

Let us refer you to our designer of rammed earth homes. A home designer is not licensed but will have extensive knowledge on the drafting process of a residential home. They will be able to provide your structural engineer and other professionals with a detailed floor plan to work from.

Pre-Construction Budgeting

Here is where we collaborate with you the client, the Architect, and the Structural Engineer. The goal is to identify opportunities to reduce cost and complexity while retaining the design and aesthetic of the architecture. This is a crucial service that is offered at Revadim. This service is not included in the project costs but you will more than make up the fee withs savings that you will benefit from. 

Planning With Pre-Construction

Having the right Pre Construction Plan will determine the outcome of the project.  Here is where we decide what type of Rammed Earth walls we are going to create. Especially the color of the wall and its finishing.

Remodeling Your Home

Sustainable Construction More and more people are getting into sustainable construction. They like the idea of a home that works with Nature. Imagine adding an extension to your home of rammed earth walls or replacing interior walls with rammed earth ones.ith Nature.

 

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Rammed Earth Across the World

We already said that rammed earth technology dates back to at least 5000 BCE. Thus, it's not surprising that it expands across
href="http://auroshivasearthbuilders.com/rammed-earth-building/">every continent except for Antarctica.
The Portuguese call it taipa, the Spanish call it tapia or tapial, and the Chinese call it hāng tǔ.

Rammed earth made its way to the United States through French and German migrants. We see the oldest sign of it at the Borough House Plantation, where additions to the property in 1821 consisted of rammed earth.

What is rammed earth, anyways, and why has it been widely used for thousands of years?

How Rammed Earth Is Built

Rammed earth essentially mimics how nature creates rocks. A solid mass (i.e. a rock or wall) is created from layers of earth sediment put under pressure.

Aggregates

It consists of a mixture of aggregates such as gravel, sand, silt, and a small amount of clay (somewhere between 10-30%). Sometimes lime or cement is used as a stabilizer (somewhere between 3-9%).

Additionally, insulation or sealants may be added to the structure, depending on the climate. Rammed earth does a great job at slowly releasing temperature but isn't a good insulator, or retainer, of it. 

These aggregates are thoroughly mixed together for consistency. This can be done by hand, tractor, or tiller. During this step, a little bit of water is added to dampen the material.

Formwork and Ramming

The mixture is then poured in small amounts between flat frames called formwork. These are the shape of the final wall and can be made of wood or steel.

Here's the part of the process that requires ramming. To set the earth mixture, it must be put under pressure. 

Traditionally, this tamping happens with a heavy wooden pole. Current technology often uses a machine to ram the earth instead, as tamping with a pole is labor-intensive.

Once the earth is half the size it was when poured in, another layer is added.  The process repeats until the desired height of the wall is met.

Throughout the process, 

Fixing Mistakes

If a mistake is made, or part of the structure breaks for whatever reason, it is a simple fix.

You can use the soil mixture used in the walls as plaster and sand it when dry to even it out.

Final Product

The final product has earthy colors. You may be able to see the layers of aggregate as stripes, just like you can see the layers in rock formations.

It doesn't have to be an angular structure -- there are advanced ways to ram earth so that you can create curves and other decorative designs.

The walls of rammed earth structures are typically 18 inches to 24 inches, making a strong sound barrier between inside and outside.

The Benefits of Rammed Earth

The benefits of this building technique are environmental, economic, and safety-oriented. Plus, there's aesthetic beauty for those who love natural elements.

Environmental and Economic Benefits

These two categories go together, as less money spent usually equates to less environmental impact.

Many people do not use on-site materials for aggregates in the U.S. for a variety of reasons.

Still, bringing in aggregates and other materials from local sources contributes to far less greenhouse gas emissions compared to other building options.

Rammed earth also uses natural materials that are readily available. Lumber doesn't have to be chopped and processed, stone doesn't have to be harvested and cut, and so on.

As for properly built rammed earth homes, statistics show that they require one-third of the energy that a conventional home uses. This makes it an environmentally conscientious building option.

The main drawback of rammed earth homes is the cost of labor, as it's an intensive process. But, when you look at the big picture, they're still more cost-effective and environmentally friendly than most other building alternatives.

Safety Benefits

First off, rammed earth buildings can survive for thousands of years. This shows that even the original techniques are hardy and safe.

They are typically safe for load-bearing and multiple stories, which you can see around the world in already existing large structures.

The strength of these buildings is generally considered as strong as concrete, although the exact strength depends on the earth matter used.

Additionally, research suggests that different curing times may affect strength. One study found that when cured for 60 days, rammed earth buildings were 25 times stronger than those that didn't cure that long. 

In addition to strength, rammed earth buildings protect against other natural elements. They are naturally fireproof, mold-resistant, and free from termite damage and rodent infestations.

Due to the porous nature of the earth matter, they are breathable and allow for proper air exchange and healthy amounts of humidity.

On the flip side, this porousness may require the structure to have extra protection against rain to withstand frequent, direct moisture. Water repellents can be added to external walls to aid this but may take away from the breathability of the building.

One way to accommodate this is to build a larger roof.

Rammed Earth For the Win

Rammed earth provides a solid (pun intended) building options for developed and developing countries.

The process is age-tested, the materials are easy to come by, and the benefits are far more than unique, aesthetically-pleasing structures.

The only way to ensure you get everything you can from a rammed earth structure is to make sure you have experienced professionals on your side.

Otherwise, it might not be as strong as you need it, or it may be hard to pass building codes.

We can be that for you. Leave your name and email for specials and Rammed Earth news to stay informed and up to date.