Filling in the gaps

As I reported in a recent post, it is extremely important to fill in the gaps between windows doors and framework of the building to keep out the drafts especially when the east wind blows.

However I thought it equally important to fill in some of the gaps I left in my absence from blogging, almost eight months without posting a single update!

First a quick recap on what the house looked like in May last year.


Functional for a workforce, not so good for a baby, so I spent a little time on our stable accommodation, plaster boarding the ceiling, patching up blown plasterwork from a freezing winter and installing an electric heater. All in all quite habitable during the warm summer months, even for Malina.

One of the first tasks was to get the final coat of lime render on the walls, having decided to complete downstairs before we moved up a level. This was completed fairly quickly the stud walls for the bathroom and pantry, the only two real rooms, followed fairly rapidly.


I did spend a little time of the pantry as I envisaged a curved wall on the leading corner from the main door to draw you into the kitchen area. After experimenting a little I decide to try my luck with reed mats, we still had a few left over that we purchased for bridging gaps on the outside of the building, so it was using up otherwise surplus materials.


As you can see it works in a very similar way to the old lath and plaster technique that used to be used before the advent of plaster board. The plaster is squeezed trough the gaps and as it sets grips the mats. I actually used plasterboard on the lower level section to provide a flat surface to make fitting the worktop easier, at least on one wall 🙂

I really like the end result, the bumpy contours flow from the bale walls giving the impression of an internal bale wall, very organic! So much so that I hope to use the same method upstairs in the corridor that connects the bedrooms.

More to come in my next post.

Author: Eddy Winko

Left the rat race to live a less hectic and harmful life. From the building of a straw bale house to the composting toilet diaries; read my blog

22 thoughts on “Filling in the gaps”

    1. The thing with this kind of build is that you generate quite a bit of interest and meet lots of people that you would not otherwise meet. As a consequence you are given lots of ideas that you then think ‘ I could do that’ or ‘it would be cool to try out’ Much to the annoyance of Gosia I’m sure who just wants me to finish the house and stop making dust!

  1. “almost eight months without posting a single update!”
    Yes, I wondered about that. Sometimes I’d check up on you just to see if maybe I missed one. I thought to myself, Eddy has GOT to be going stir crazy not to be blogging about what he’s been doing, because as I’ve been reading your posts, I get a feeling you like to keep us up to date. So I’m glad you’ve got internet to the house now (unless you’re blogging from the old place) and I’m still waiting for the photos and specs on the solar hot water heater…hint, hint. 🙂

    1. Sorry for the delay in replying Pat, it’s been a busy week working upstairs, more to catch up on 🙂
      You are right, I have so much in my head to put in the blog, time just seems to get the better of me, but I really do hope to catch up soon, especially on the solar heating, which by the way gave us a tank of 48c water yesterday despite near freezing temperatures all day.

  2. These words stood out for me, ” After experimenting a little I decide to try my luck”
    It seems to sum it up pretty well. 🙂 It’s about what we all do.

  3. Good to see a progress report Eddy. The reed mats seem to have been a perfect choice;just like the walls inside Elizabethan buildings here, and they are still standing!
    Keep up the good work mate.
    Love to all. Pete.

  4. What influenced ur decision to apply lime plaster inside the house?

    Has my email with links to compost heating systems reached ur gmail inbox?

    1. Hi Rafal,
      A couple of books that I read on straw bale suggested that you should keep an equilibrium between the inner and outer coats on the bales so that they could ‘breath’ equally. It kind of made sense to me so we stuck with the same clay then lime as we had on the outside. I hope that makes sense?
      Email received thank you, some very interesting links and thoughts, I’ll get back to you soon 🙂 Cheers, Eddy

      1. hmm…AFAIK the “breathing” (air exchange through the strawbale wall) is neglectful once the building has standard ventilation system.

        As to moisture adsorption it too “case” dependent to be disputed virtually :-). (function of too many variables )

        I was taught not to apply lime plaster over the clay due to different gradient of shrinkage.

        Once water has penetrated through the lime layer into the clay one it adsorbs the water and its volume increases significantly. It also easily releases the moisture & dries more quickly which results in heavy tensions between the two layers (lime plaster is pretty rigid) and what we get is ….cracks.

        Hope Ur exterior walls are well screened

        as to email I just wanted to make sure U got it.
        email is not an instant messenger so…I’m sure U r surrounded by many tasks to cover 🙂

      2. Breathing to me means moisture permeability, I’m not keen on any air getting through 🙂 I guess it’s all one big experiment based upon the reading I have done, but at least I’m not the first 🙂
        What do you mean by screened?

      3. By “well screened” I meant well protected against direct rain.
        Now at the added photo I can see a pretty long overlap.

        And to support my words from my above comment :

        here is a link to a pretty advanced natural builder

        I thought only the direct rain stood for a thread to clay-lime plastered walls.

        From the above cited entry I got know that even a mere high humidity may cause cracks in such surfaces…
        we learn whole life…
        I hope it will not occure in Ur case.

      4. Interesting article, not that I’m convinced 🙂 The only cracks we have had in over two years of putting lime on the clay are those caused by structural movement as the wooden frame shrinks and over a year of that was without the extra protection the terrace provides, so it’s holding up pretty well.
        I thought the photo provided from her test looked like ‘blown’ plaster after moisture within had frozen.
        As you say every days a school day 🙂 And it’s a great resource to add to the list.

      5. Yuppiiii…time flies…2 years already….nice to know nothin happens to the plaster.
        btw. IMHO Placing ur example as a comment to her entry would stand for a pretty cogent contra argument.

    2. what I forgot to ask was: was I right to see a clay layer applied at the lime one or the lime plaster had such tone of a colour when wet?

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