The Secret To Deciding Between Strawbale and Cob

If you've been drooling over earthen house pictures for any length of time then you're probably torn. Which building method should you actually use?

Cob is so beautiful. So sensual. The smooth curvaceous walls just make you want to rub your hands all over them.

Straw bales are so sensible. They're relatively fast to build and incredibly warm.

I used to change my mind daily from cob to strawbale and back again. After building henry the cob studio, I was madly in love and I didn't want to miss out on that in our main house. But strawbales appealed to my logical man mind.

In the end, after chatting to a guy at a straw bale building workshop, I suddenly became clear on the right thing to do...

Use cob AND strawbale.

Oh how I celebrated. Now I could have outrageous beauty and make the sensible choice. Let me explain why it's a clever idea to use both cob and strawbales in your diy house building project.

 

Stay Warm By Understanding Your Materials

On cold winter nights it's nice to stay warm. I like to take a hot water bottle to bed and wrap my body in a thick blanket. It's the best way to keep yourself nice and toasty all night long.

I like to think of building in a similar way.

  • Straw bales are like blankets - They stop the heat from escaping.
  • Cob is like a hot water bottle - It stores heat and releases it slowly throughout the night.

internal cob wall to store the heat
One of our internal cob walls to store heat for releasing at night

For our house, we decided it would be smart to wrap the building envelope with strawbales. This would keep the heat inside the house, where we wanted it.

And we would use cob for 3 internal walls to help store available heat. In fact, we placed our cob walls in clever spots. They will receive heat from the winter sun and from our fireplace too.

 

Save Time By Using Small Amounts of Cob

One of the lessons I learned from building Henry was that cob takes aaaages. It's slow to mix. It's slow to put on the wall. And it's slow to dry. Building a house completely out of cob would require either a lot of time or a lot of help.

Strawbale houses on the other hand can be much faster.

That's why building the majority of our house out of strawbales makes sense. And with only a few cob walls to build, we still get to have all the fun and beauty of cob without taking too long. Win - Win!

 

Stun Your Visitors With The Beauty of Cob

Cob is the beautiful-est building material ever! Don't get me wrong, I love the thick, smooth, curvy walls of strawbale. But cob is a true work of art.

That's why it makes sense to use cob where it can show off it's beauty. Our cob walls are placed in prime viewing position as you walk in the front door. The idea is to stun our visitors with a sight that will make their jaws drop!

cob is so sculptural and beautiful
Look how beautiful and sculptural cob is. You can make any shape you want :)

 

Get The Best Of Both Worlds By Using Cob And Strawbale

So you see, cob and strawbale isn't an either/or thing. It's more like a "hip hip hooray we can have our cake and eat it too" thing. Used cleverly, you can feel the love of both cob and strawbales in your beautiful diy home.