Frequently Asked Questions:
Won’t straw burn? – Like a page of the phone book, the surface of an unplastered straw bale is flammable, but the center is so dense that it does not burn easily. Once plastered, the surface is no longer flammable. Unlike stud construction which effectively creates a series of chimneys in the wall, the center of a bale wall is so dense that there is little oxygen available to feed a fire. Straw bale buildings have a higher fire resistance rating than conventional buildings.
Won’t straw rot? – Most building materials, including wood, will rot if exposed to too much moisture. If kept dry, straw will not rot. Building any structure properly involves specific attention to keeping water out and making sure vapor doesn’t get trapped. Straw bale buildings are no different.
Won’t bugs eat it? – Straw is the stem of the plant with the seed head removed. There is very little food value in a straw bale. Straw is less attractive to most kinds of termites than wood, but normal termite precautions should be taken. Also, termites require a damp environment to thrive, which should be avoided in any building.
Won’t rodents live in it? – Although rodents will nest in a loose stack of bales in a barn, bales are stacked in the wall so tightly that there is no access for rodents and they do not try to nest there. Unlike hay, straw does not contain seeds to attract rodents. In fact, there is more room in a conventionally built wall for rodents to nest than in a straw bale wall.
Won’t the Big Bad Wolf blow it down? – With more than 730 straw bale buildings in the US, there have been no reported wolf-induced failures. There are even a few examples of straw bale buildings that have withstood the test of time (and wolves) for almost 100 years.