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Thread: earth roof or not

  1. #1

    Smile earth roof or not

    Hi, I'm new on here and would like some advice please. We are about to buy a barn in the mountains that is has fallen down into a ruin, it's difficult to get to, so getting anything to it, especially that is heavy, is nigh on impossible. We were thinking about an earth roof ? We have unlimited trees, lots of stones to build the old barn up, but not much else. any suggestions I'd appreciate.


  2. #2
    missing in action trax's Avatar
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    Well I'd suggest you find your way over to the intro section and build however much of an introduction you wish to from whatever resources you have available. As for your barn, I know nothing about earth roofs (rooves?, lol) but if you have all these trees, consider making your own lumber for a roof, too. By the way folks, this fella said "nigh" it's catching I tell ya....
    some fella confronted me the other day and asked "What's your problem?" So I told him, "I don't have a problem I am a problem"

  3. #3
    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    Why the earthen roof? Maybe thatch? A whole lot less weight to support that way.
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  4. #4

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    I just thought the earth roof would be easier as I could get that on site, thatch, I'm not sure where I could get the thatch to put on it.

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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    I don't know enough about either to give you any meaningful advice. Since you have plenty of wood, have you thought about turning some of the trees into lumber? There are probably many different types and brands around, but this will give you an idea of one possibilty. http://www.toolcenter.com/ALASKAN_MK..._SAW_MILL.html
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    Senior Member RBB's Avatar
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    You'll need a strong superstructure to support an earth roof, and something waterproof between the earth and the inside of the structure. At one time birchbark was often used. Some heavy polly might work as well.

    When I've actually seen it done, the pitch was quite shallow, and the walls were concrete (earth houses).

    I'd suggest you do a lot of research before attempting it as an earth roof has its own special problems.
    Raised By Bears
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  7. #7

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    Thank you for that, I don't know if you can get them in Europe here. looks so handy.

  8. #8
    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    You might look for a book titled Earth Sheltered Houses - How to Build an Affordable Underground Home. Here is what it looks like:

    http://www.amazon.com/Earth-Sheltere.../dp/0865715211

    It discusses type of design, roof weight, load bearing weights, stress loads and a whole bunch of stuff I don't even remember any more.

  9. #9

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    I'll check it out.

  10. #10
    Senior Member snakeman's Avatar
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    An earth roof might hve too many problems. I would go with thatch. You can use ferns greenery and leaves, or split shingles from logs. If its not too heavy you may be able to use tin.
    Pickin' n' Grinnin'

  11. #11
    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    If some of the options listed don't fit your needs or are not practical - as Snakeman said, you could make your own shingles. Here's a source on how. http://www.motherearthnews.com/Do-It...-Shingles.aspx
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  12. #12

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    What about rolls of tar paper / roll roofing? You could use one of these to move your supplies and tools:http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/te...052&id=0020698

  13. #13
    Loner Gray Wolf's Avatar
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    Good idea Rebel! It's 24" wide and supports up to 300 pounds. Puts a tin roof or the tar paper and regular shingles back on the menu.
    "A person is not finished when they are defeated.
    A person is finished when they quit."

  14. #14

    Wink A Roofing We Will Go. . .

    The best 2 types of "natural" roofing you should consider are Cedar shakes or Birch bark shingles.

    Splitting Cedar for shakes is relatively easy (but it takes a lot of Cedar trees to get enough shakes. . .especially for a barn roof), or cut down and peel the bark from Birch trees. Weigh it down so it lays flat and let dry (about a year) then it could be cut into shingles and used for a roof.

    An earth roof needs to have a super sub-structure to hold up, and you would need Cedar or Redwood or a similar type of "rot resistant" wood to hold up to the damp soil or moss or what ever type of "earth" type material you use. And your rafters would have to be placed no farther than 12" (o.c.) apart to support the weight. It would also be advisable to use chicken wire under the earth roofing to help support and distribute the weight of the (moss or grass) roofing.

    JM2C!
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  15. #15

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    well that's given me food for thought, my main problem, though it's not a problem is the wood is mainly beech, getting anything up there is going to be a huge effort. it's an old french barn high up in the mountains, so it's not very big, originally used for sheep and their keeper in the summer on high pastures. It fell down I suppose 50 years ago but the stones remain. I'm originally from ireland but i have been drawn by the sun and cheaper plots.

  16. #16
    Senior Member snakeman's Avatar
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    I would guess beech splits easily since it is hardwood. We have a ton of beech here too. We have used the bark of downfalls as shingles. They are thick and very tough.
    Pickin' n' Grinnin'

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    Senior Member RBB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crashdive123 View Post
    If some of the options listed don't fit your needs or are not practical - as Snakeman said, you could make your own shingles. Here's a source on how. http://www.motherearthnews.com/Do-It...-Shingles.aspx
    Hmmm. Hand split all the shingles for a house I built in the 1970s. It was beautiful - especially after the sun burnt it to a great shade of orange. Down side - it took me five years to do all the splitting (walls and roof).
    Raised By Bears
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  18. #18

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    how thick do the shingles need to be ? I love the look of shingle roof, they take on a lovely hue after awhile.

  19. #19
    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    Not sure how thick hand made shingles need to be. The cedar shingles I recently bought were less than 1/2 inch at the thick end and tapered to "very thing" at theo opposite end.
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  20. #20

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    You said it's an old French barn. What style roof does it have? That can make your choice of roofing material much easier as a very steep roof will be harder to make earthen (rain + new earth roof + steep angles = big mess)...
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