Learn about different types of eco-friendly bricks, blocks and other building materials.
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The following examples are greener alternatives to the more conventional types of building board. They are made from natural products, so they are eco-friendly and suited for use in conjunction with the other materials shown on these pages. All these products are 100-percent biodegradable, avoiding the disposal problems of drywall, which is often left in landfill. However, recycling options are being developed, such as clay drywall blocks.
The primary component of this board is clay, often bound together with reed and hessian. It offers a direct alternative to gypsum-based drywall. Clay board is heavier and thicker than drywall, and is best cut using a saw or jigsaw.
Manufactured from straw, and free of formaldehyde, straw board can be used for flooring, or wall applications.
This is a drywall alternative made from natural reeds laid side-by-side and bound together to form a rigid board structure.
Reed on a roll
A more flexible version of reed board, this is ideal for ceiling applications and walls on which the studwork may be undulating. This makes it ideal for use in restoration work on walls that have bowed over time.
The forerunner to drywall, wooden laths are nailed to studwork and used as a base for the application of lime plaster. They are extremely eco-friendly as they are produced from a sustainable resource. Sweet chestnut and oak laths are typically handmade using traditional methods.
Both sweet chestnut and oak laths have a rough key because they are made by hand. This makes them ideal for use on ceilings. In contrast, larch laths are machine-made and square-edged, which makes them better suited for use on walls.
Image 1: Sweet chestnut lath
Image 2: Oak lath
Image 3: Larch lath
Care must be taken when storing green materials. Most do not store well outside so should be kept inside. If they must be stored in the open air, they should be covered accordingly. Although some blocks can form part of a stucco exterior wall, they will be susceptible to rain damage prior to stucco. It is important to note that most green blocks and bricks cannot be used below the damp-proof course level.
Excerpted from Do It Yourself Home Improvement
© Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009