by Andrew Morrison
I know there are those in the world of straw bale construction who don’t like the idea of using welded wire mesh on their projects. I understand that for some, the inclusion of the mesh is considered counter to the concept of natural building as the production of steel is relatively resource heavy. I, on the other hand, believe that the use of mesh is vital to creating a strong, durable, and well built structure that will not only ultimately reduce the use of resources over time, but also speed and simplify the construction process. Consider that a home built with mesh is stronger and more durable than one built without mesh and that the added durability will mean less repairs, less chance of water intrusion and less reuse of resources such as plaster to make the otherwise needed repairs. I have built and/or consulted on hundreds of straw bale homes and I have used many different methods over the years. I can honestly say that the use of mesh has improved the overall results so much that I can’t imagine going back to building without it. To give some reference as to how I got to this place, I should mention that I have built projects without mesh of any kind, with jute netting, with chicken wire, with plastic mesh, with 16g and 14g welded wire mesh (1” x 2”, 2” x 4”, and 2” x 2”), and with several different types of either rebar, wood, or bamboo pinning (both internal and external). The best results from all of these approaches has been the use of 2” x 2” welded wire mesh (either 14g or 16g), bar none.
Following is a list of the benefits of building with welded wire mesh from a construction standpoint.