How do you make a stone good enough to build a house with?

Discussion in 'Designing, building, making and powering your life' started by sun burn, Jan 22, 2011.

  1. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    Actually i am intersted in a stone that can make using the laminated ferrocement method. The reason for following this method is that I need to make the stone materials i work with lighter so that i can handle it because i don't have a team or slaves. My building team consists of one woman only.

    In the laminated ferrocment method, for your information, it goes like this.

    lay 1/8 inch mortar made with 50% each sand and portland cement (do you have a better idea of what to use and a better mortar recipe?)
    lay in a sheet of expanded lath metal. This is galvanised and light. And i also might try some experiments with split bamboo.
    lay and other 1/8 inch mortar
    lay another sheet lath

    until you have three sheets of lath in the mortar mix. The top layer is mortar.

    I have planned on making a type of plank because I think i can handle the weight and size. I Mean the plank is going to be my basic building block.

    It needs to be strong enough to walk on. I mainly need it for floors and all structural members that are normally called beams, bearers and joists.

    I may do some walls.

    I also want to use this method for making built in furniture in all my rooms.

    do you have a stone recipe or mortar recipe using materials other than portland cement that i could use? What will be the advantages? Will it be as easy as using portland cement? Will the cost be comparable? What about finding teh materials?

    All i know at the moment is that we have stone quarries around here and there is lime but it is not hydraulic or hydrated lime. It is lime meant to be used straight on the garden. I don't know if there is any other type of treatment plant around but i could look into it if you think its worthwhile.

    I think it is unlikey that i will be doing any lime cooking.
     
  2. Grasshopper

    Grasshopper Senior Member

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    Are you thinking of the stone as a veneer?
    What size are the stones ?
     
  3. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    Absolutely not.

    No i am thinking of concrete. When i make ferrocment, i would make it with a mortar which coats the metal lath. This mortar is the same as that used in rendering a building. I am not making stones. i am using the word sort of metaphorically. I am asking him how to make concrete or mortar that would work in my building. But how to do it without using portland cement since he says you can do it on the rock dust thread.
     
  4. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Cement and steel bricks then? (what's metal lath?).
     
  5. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    Pebble, i started this thread because there is a poster on the rock dust thread who says he knows a lot about concrete using traditional methods. He says one should avoid portland cement. So rather than let him loose over there, i thought i would make this space available. I forgot to think about how other readers might view this thread. Sorry for the confusion.

    Of course anyone can add their ideas.

    Ok how do you make cement without portland cement?

    What's a steel brick? Anyway i think you are joking when you say cement and steel bricks. Clearly i am not going to work with bricks of any sort. I am looking for a recipe for the mortar that would work in this context. Wouldn't mind knowing how to make a concrete stone for other purposes also using everything or anything but portland cement as a binder.

    Those other uses would be mainly for outdoors. I am already considering how to make an earth floor in my dressing room which does not require the use of cement. I am probably going to use road base which has a clay component.

    But i want to make concrete furniture and a retaining wall or two and steps and thinks like that in the garden, all of which i would normally make from concrete since i have no stone around here and boy is wood expensive. Wood, that is, that won't be eaten by termites. Anything that will be eaten by termites is not worth buying or bothering with.

    That is a very good question. It took me a long time to find out. The short answer is it a fine stretched or expanded metal that is used in rendering. Do you know what expanded metal is? They start with a sheet of metal, then cut it and then stretch it. It is very strong. A big industrial version of that you would be familiar with is used in metal walkways. But this lath stuff is very fine and comparatively light and affordable. If you need to know more check out Locker Group website. Or ask me.
     
  6. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Maybe it's our different locations, but here you wouldn't call what you are wanting to make a 'stone' (stones are something your pick up off the ground, or quarry for). That's why I suggested the term concrete/steel brick. I thought you were wanting to make a series of uniform shapes from laminated cement and steel that could be laid on top of each other to build things, but I've misread. What you are wanting to make is concrete/steel timber, right? Although you did say walls too, not sure what you mean (are they stacked or what?).
     
  7. Farago

    Farago Junior Member

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    G'day Sunburn

    I guess you looked up what a calciner is, but in case you haven't ,most mortar are made from minerals that need to be calcined or burned to become reactive. The range for this is 750oc to no more than 900oC, so you can imagine the amount of fuel just to do this, and far far more in the manufacture of portland cements. So a solar calciner can hopefully really change things for the better, though I won't help the cement industry as portland cement doesn't re-absorb the CO2 released, though some in the pr spin say it does, this is the same line of thinking as clean coal lobby.

    For eg Gypsum plaster( which I don't use ) is burnt at around 140oC(depends on the type of plaster), and as gypsum is made up of approx 1/3 water, 1/3 calcium and 1/3 sulphuric acid, the water is calcined off to varying degrees hemi-hydrate (most gypsum plasters) is where most of the water has been calcined off, and anhydrous where all of it has. This now make the material thirsty for its water, and it wants it back.

    In the case of lime this has to be burnt at around 850-900oC and this is to burn the carbon dioxide off, making it calcium oxide or quicklime THIS IS AN EXTREMELY DANGEROUS MATERIAL , and should only be used after being taught in person by someone who has experience. I don't wish to put anyone off though as I was taught young, as my grandfather had a lot of experience and when shown properly is like teaching a child to cook on a hot stove or to chop wood.
    There are certain precautions that MUST be taken as a she'll be right attitude with safety when dealing with caustic materials can end up with serious pain,injury and death. Think the lye-kiss scene in Fight Club.
    Now the 'hydrated' dry bag lime that you can buy at building supply places is probably the least useful of all the lime family,unless you get it from the calcining plant the day they cook it, as what happens is they spray it with just enough water as to slake it, to lower the ph, but still keep it 'dry'. This however means it has started its quest to go back to what it was....and it wants that CO2 that was burnt off back.
    The other means is to add quicklime to water (never ,ever do it the other way around) and turn it into a lime putty also calcium hydroxide, which happens after a violent reaction , and this is kept under water to prevent the CO2 getting too it.
    In ageing lime putty this has to be done properly in well created pits otherwise you are wasting your time ageing it for years.
    So those are the Hydrated Limes
    Hydraulic Lime is similar in the sense that it wants the CO2 back, but because of aluimina silicate impurities in the original stone , they react and make it have that pozzolanic reaction, which will cause an initial set however this is just the beginning, it will still absorb the CO2 and won't be fully reverted back to stone until it has it all. This has many advantages in some cases especially as a render, as it has time to move with the building, getting to know the building over time while slowly curing.Though it will be hard to the touch the next day.
    Now Charoset is completely different and is a limb on its own on the mortar tree and a major one too.

    This also due to the initial danger this MUST be shown in person by some one experienced, but again don't let the adhearance to safety put you off.....once the reaction has taken place it is safe enough to put your hand in it.

    I hope you don't confuse me as being cagey with this method that has been kept secret throughout history, as I am not, in fact I am more than happy to share this with as many people as possible through out the world now as the peak oil effects will begin to take hold. And one of the many things that eventually won't be available or just prohibitively expensive.....(I bet a builder I know 2 milking goats and 12 Australorps that portland cement in 10 years will not be available, probably less, but I'm just covering myself LOL).It's just as I have seen on youtube videos people for eg. being rather reckless with dangerous materials. And so would be very irresponsible of me to not teach the way I was taught.
    The other part is that because this has been patented by Davidovits and others, and as far as I know so far from all my travels the only one who's family has prior knowledge, but I am sure because of this I can pass it on to who ever I like, as my family has been doing this before patents existed.
    But if you take into account that besides water, portland cement is the most used material on the planet, you can understand that that some may see their wallets getting lighter etc. So caution is needed here at least before the peak oil bite. So when teaching I advise a strong occupational health and safety regimen and a modicum of subtlety when getting this methodology 'out there'.

    Charoset is the reaction between any alumina silicate and a catalyst, this is not a reaction with lime, as you can do this without lime if you don't want to, or don't have access to the material locally.
    However all clays are an alumina silicate, and as I have shown a few fellow members of EBAA (Earth Builder Association of Australia), it can make ordinary mud bricks or rammed earth much much stronger without loosing any of the properties that these also wonderful methods offer.And the ramming of the earth takes far less energy, as the 'gelling' is achieved from very little vibration. So little that for eg when making a bucket full, just a light tap on the side of the bucket is enough to gel out a moist mix.This is part of the reason for its high strength, as it can become very dense.

    I would advise anyone with a woodstove or oven, to from now on collect the ash and store it in a dry water tight plastic bucket, and this includes palm fronds as they are especially valuable....and treat this ash like gold. The charcoal of course goes into the garden or compost.
    And also to weld up a metal tray that each time you have a fire that you take dry clay that has been crushed into a powder and calcine this in your fire. And collect this and also keep it dry. In biblical times people paid their 'taxes' this way but did it as a civic/community duty. And we should all do this again to as it fits in with permaculture principles.

    These materials would be all you need to make a concrete, and depending on the effort and technique you will EASILY achieve a 20-60 Mpa concrete, and depending on the aggregate, you will have a stone.

    This isn't the only source or direction that the same chemcal reaction can be made from though, but the most readily available as most have access to clay and hard wood or old palm fronds for fire fuel.

    I hope this gives you a better idea on what I mean about having a local means to make a 'concrete' without portland cement as this nightmare material's manufacture is entirely reliant on fossil fuels.

    When building a home, the way I was taught, would be to dig out (can be done with beneficial chemical reaction in the hard places like huge rocks) a cistern, usually at least a few meters deep and obviously keep the clay, which you let dry,crumble or crush to dust and then calcine.
    This is then then most of the materials you will need for building.

    You would then construct a cistern lining wall, and the best cisterns are usually circular to be able to handle earth movement (in fact this is also been used for thousands of years as a seismic dampener).
    Within these walls and the base are formed pipes which water is circulated down through constantly and these pipes have air inlets that allow air to be drawn into the water(trompes), this air becomes compressed the further the depth of the pipes and in a chamber is drawn out from the water and this compressed air is bubbled through the constructed base and out into the bottom of the cistern water, oxygenating it and keeping it healthy, the excess can be also used to help keep the water flowing and for other uses, that hopefully if with the help of others will create a diversified energy system.
     
  8. Farago

    Farago Junior Member

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    the forum tazered me by saying I went over the word limit...so here is part 2


    The material is then used to create a vault and either the building is built on top of or near this.The walls formwork is either done like rammed earth or you can just do it in stages and work your way up.
    Finally a vaulted roof is formed, and this is designed to harvest water and done in a way that water surface tension assists in the water holding on to the roof and flowing where you want it, and that leaves and so forth just blow off in dry days.A filter is still done and this is often another use for the charcoal.
    There is an ancient technique in making this cast stone translucent so that during the day you don't need light or can direct light into where you want , however this technique is without a doubt in the top 5 of all the most labour intensive techniques. I did however work out a way using a modern appoach 20 years ago that can make this process much easier and less labour intensive. So your ceiling would let the sunlight through during the day but without the heat, and at night you would be able to light it up with just a few LEDs. You could do this with walls too, however remember just as you could see silhuettes of people outside , they can also see you, especially at night, though this can be put to various artist and practical uses in parts.It isn't so costly material wise (at least not for now) but labour wise it is still intensive, but no way near as much as it was in the way I was taught from ancient methods.

    My girlfriend and I will be building a workshop/guesthouse in this way on our property, and would like an aquaponics system integrated into it as well. And in answering sunburns book writing question, I wrote out a plan of the various chapters, and started and got about 450 pages in without illustrations, and realised there are at least 2500 pages to go, so decided that maybe film is the better way to go and that a writer and photographer could do a book from the film. But would also love it if these technique could be taught before then, as this is just the tip of the iceberg, there is the art and problem solving of forming these material into whatever design you wish, and to imitate any stone.

    We will be exchanging knowledge of this to make beautiful but most importantly safe, insulated hives for bees, and would love to work with any one else with bee keeping experience, will share this as soon as it is worked out.

    Our chicken houses for nighttime will to give you an idea on the formwork, will be Rue de Poulet, a Parisian streetscape scaled down, so each chook gets their own insulated, comfortable 'apartment' that is safe from foxy,easy to clean,collect eggs and should be fun for our daughter when she grows older.

    Am really glad I found this forum, as this site is one of my favorites, and I hope can be useful to the permaculture community.
     
  9. DonHansford

    DonHansford Junior Member

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    Perhaps we first need to look at some terminology, just so everyone knows what we mean by certain terms.

    Cement (or Portland Cement) = powdered limestone, chalk or ancient coral reefs, often with the addition of fillers/binders like fly ash (called pozzolans). Has been in common use since WW2 in civil construction, due to it's faster setting times than lime.Uses a huge amount of energy to produce (burned at around 1450 deg. Celsius). Does not breathe. Cannot be crushed and re-used (other than as aggregate) once it has set.

    Concrete = cement mixed with water, sand and (usually) some aggregate (stone, usually up to 20mm (3/4 inch) in size).

    Mortar = mixture of cement and/or lime and loamy sand, used to bed bricks or rocks together

    Plaster = thin mix of lime/cement and fine sand, used on internal walls or ceilings

    Render = as above, but used on external walls, roofs, etc.

    Lime = similar to cement, but is not as hygrophobic (doesn't tend to "go off" just from the moisture in the air). Has been in common use in concrete for thousands of years. Produced at much lower temperatures than cement, so not as energy intensive in production. Breathes. Can be crushed and re-used indefinitely. When drying, lime mortar will re-absorb all the C02 it emitted during the burning process. Takes longer to set than cement based plasters, but gives a much better finish.

    Lime can be used in a number of uses - including foundations, walls, floors, vaults and roofs. Also used in paints, plasters, renders and decorative cornices, stuccos, etc.

    Lime comes in two main types - hydraulic and non-hydraulic (or "air" limes). Hydraulic uses active clay particles containing certain amounts of silicates and aluminates, which set when combined with water (just like cement does). Air limes use the C02 in the air as their catalyst, and actually absorb the gas in the process of setting/drying. Hydraulic lime is the stronger of the two.
    Lime can be slaked in water to obtain lime wash, a very good, low-cost paint.

    Burning the quarried material (at around 900 deg. Celsius) produces quicklime. This is then slaked in water, producing lime putty (especially good for fine plasters), and hydrated lime (can be mixed with cement/sand to make a better plaster than just cement).

    Got some stuff to do, but I'll try to get back tomorrow with some more :)
     
  10. Grasshopper

    Grasshopper Senior Member

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    I have used this product when I laid limstone tiles 400x400 mm over a chipboard floor. It virtually gives you a floating stone and concrete floor that doesnt crack when the wood underneath moves.It would have similar applications in holding a render to a building.
     
  11. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    Sorry Pebble and everyone. When i used the term STONE in my title, i was being metaphoric. Sorry for the confusion i should have anticipated that.
     
  12. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    Don if you can put your mind to it, let me know if you think i can use it in my planks (which are not timber)

    definition of plank here: a long, narrowish, thin piece of material similar in shape and strength to wood plank that is commonly used by builders. This is to be the basic building block of my house but it is not a brick or a block. It is a like a board of concrete and metal. I haven't yet determined the length of the board/plank that will work here.

    Don, on the ferrocment forum i participate in, people seem to think that lime would not be a suitable material for my project. They site all sorts of limitation. Softness being one. The fact that there are ruins made of lime from centuries old doesn't really answer the problem.

    https://ferrocement.net/flist/index.php?topic=245.0

    I"ve just reread this thread and I think the clincher for me comes in one of Chris's posts when he says that hydraulic lime is so expensive its now only used in conservation projects. Unfortunatley cost is the most significant factor in my choice of building materials. If i can't afford it, i simply can't use it.
     
  13. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day sunburn

    Which brings me to the question, why build with (wo)manufactured 'stone planks'? Why not, say for example, post-n-beam with straw bale infill and a lime render?

    Cheerio, Mark
     
  14. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    I was wondering that too. Is it because the materials are easy to source?
     
  15. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    You haven't noticed my other threads or posts about building my house then.

    Elsewhere on this site, in those threads I describe the house i want to build. It doesn't include any walls. Can you make above ground floors with straw bales? Please point me in the direction? Regarding post and beam, if you mean timber, its too expensive. I Just priced timber for the border or my paving area. Its 5m x 3.5 metres. This much treated pine timber alone is about $300. I am not using timber also because i consider it more difficult to work with but mainly its the cost. I'm using trees for the posts/poles and ferrocement if i can for the beams and joists. The roof will be mostly polycarbonate but otherwise ferrocement. Can you build a roof out of straw bales? How do you do that?

    What have you got against my method?
     
  16. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day again, sun burn

    As previously stated, the 'post-n-beam with straw bale infill and a lime render' is merely an example of just one form of building construction utilising natural products that are inherently low in embodied energy. If you have done the sums and still feel that this option is not for you, then so be it.

    I have not now, nor previously stated anything 'against your method'. I was merely curious to see whether you had explored all other options.

    Cheerio, Markos
     
  17. Warren D

    Warren D Junior Member

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    You seem to have a strange attitude towards people that are trying to understand you. If you used plain English instead of being "metaphoric" etc then maybe some of us could be more helpful? I have been involved in building since I was 15 and am now 50 but I often don't have a clue what you are talking about.
    I doubt any of us here can remember all of your previous posts so a little reminder of what you are trying to achieve and why might be helpful?
     
  18. DonHansford

    DonHansford Junior Member

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    Your proposed ferrocement "planks" are probably not going to be much cheaper than timber, and will certainly be a whole lot heavier. The effort involved in moving them around could easily outweigh any cost saving. Just a quick calculation would see a 100 x 50 x 2400mm "plank" (equivalent to a 4" x 2" 8 foot long) taking roughly 0.12 m3 of concrete. At an average of 2.4 tonnes per m3, that means that one plank would weigh about 28 kilos - not something you'd want to throw around all day.

    Every time I look at what you are trying to achieve, a big flashing neon sign in my head says "Bamboo ... Bamboo..."

    Low cost (especially if you grow your own, either at home, or via some Guerrilla Gardening in a disused spot).
    Light weight (so you won't blow your poofle valve trying to move it around).
    Only simple tools required.
    A few basic skills to master, nothing out of reach of the average person.
    Natural, quick growing, sustainable resource.
    Huge amounts of information available, via the net especially, or get your library to purchase "Bamboo Rediscovered" by Victor Cusak, published by Earth garden Books ISBN 0 9595889 8 1. It contains whole chapters on species selection, building design, structural joints, beams and foundations, etc.

    You can practice your techniques while building useful furniture, screens, etc for later use in your home, or even for sale, to raise a bit of cash.

    I really feel that in your climate, you need to be off the ground, at least in your sleeping areas.
     
  19. DonHansford

    DonHansford Junior Member

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    See my previous post - I think the weight issue is going to preclude any FC, whether lime or cement based. (In my opinion, that is).

    Doesn't it? Those ruins have stood for hundreds, if not thousands of years - often the very "softness" of the lime concrete/mortar is the reason they are still standing, when a similar building made of OPC - based material would have cracked and ultimately failed. I had a look at the forum you mentioned. There are some very smart people there, with a lot of knowledge on cement-based construction. If I was looking for info on that topic, I'd say you would be hard pressed to find a better info source. They have, however, only a passing knowledge of the use of lime in the building industry. That is not meant to denigrate them in any way, simply stating a fact.


    A couple of years ago I paid (from memory) around $180 - 200 per m3 for 20/20/80 readymix concrete. That price was for a 4 m3 load. Youn would have to check the prices where you are, but readymix is about 30-40% dearer than mixing it yourself.
     
  20. sun burn

    sun burn Junior Member

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    Don, i'm mixing it myself so the cost of readymix is not worth talking about. I am comparing the price of materials.

    If you (or anyone else) can tell me how to make a suitable mortar using lime or anything else instead of portland cement, that would work in my laminated ferrocement project as described above that would work for me. So long as the cost ended up being less than portland cement. Remember I am starting with agricultural lime also. I don't even know whether you can buy this hydraulic lime. But you I could buy it in cairns and the cost of it was comparable or better than portland cement. How do i make a mortar that is going to be good enough for my purpose, then tell me. Its all i am asking. Note i am not asking anyone to assess the wisdom of using laminated ferrocement. I am just asking for a mortar that would hold the steel in place and form a hard solid object that is strong enough to be walked on. It should above all be strong. Strong as a rock. If its crumbly, its not going to work. If its going to take a year to set, i haven't got the time to wait for that, nor the space. It needs to be practical.

    If there is a better way, tell me how. Remember there don't seem to be any books on the subject. At least not in the library and i am not about to run off and buy one that is written for conservationists in England to work with not people like me.

    Again there are all these people saying it can be done' that they know how it is done. But no one is saying how it IS done. I haven't even had a go at making concrete yet so I really am a novice and don't think there's much for me to gain by stumbling around in the dark with it. If you think i should do it with lime, tell me how.

    I am past being interested in theoretical arguements about it, i am interested in the real practice.
     

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