Papercrete Test Panel

So here is our test for a papercrete wall panel.

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We built a form 20″ x 20″ (dimensions were based on largest size of available materials for a form… i.e. being cheap and using stuff in the scrap pile)

Form material list:
(1) 20 ” x 20″ OSB board
(4) 2″ x 2″ for sides
cling wrap so papercrete doesn’t stick to OSB

Papercrete mix ratio 2:1 (Paper to Portland cement) The mix consistency was like wet oatmeal and we worked it into the mold by hand and troweled/hand-patted it to smooth it out.

Results are pretty encouraging. It’s been drying for three days and is about 1.5″ thick. The next test is a 4′ x 8′ panel. Stay tuned.

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Papercrete Brick

Here’s a follow-up to our DIY Papercrete Brick Press.

Our mix (by volume) was 3:1
(3) shredded office paper (newspaper works well also) Soak your paper for at least one day.
(1) Portland cement
Add water as needed. Make your mix a little drier than oatmeal or experiment with it until you get the consistency you like.

Press form block (interior dimensions)
W: 5-1/2″
D: 5-1/2″
L: 12″

Papercrete block dimensions (after drying)
W: 5-3/8″ (loss of -1/8″)
D: 4-1/2″ (loss of -1″ due to compression)
L: 11-5/8″ (loss of -3/8″)

Final brick dry weight
4.8 lbs
2.2 kg

It was hard to say exactly how long it took to completely dry since we had it in the house (cold/wet weather during our test) but we figure it would take 3-4 days in warm/hot sunny weather, turning it twice a day.

It is very sturdy, light and hopefully a good building material.

Our next building test will be on latex concrete roofs and wall panels.

Stay tuned for that.

DIY Papercrete Brick Press

We finally tested our homemade brick press today. The design of the press we found on the internet from Leland Hite’s website: Hands-on Engineering. Our prototype is the notch version of the Micro Compound Lever Biomass Briquette Press. But we are going to use ours for papercrete bricks, and compressed earth bricks.

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This little press can produce about 2000 PSI of force.

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Our brick form is made from scrap 2″ x 6″. The interior dimensions are 5.5″ x 5.5″ x 12″. We decided on this size so we could use another piece of scrap 2″ x 6″ as the top. And it’s a manageable size for a papercrete brick.

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A little added reinforcement as a precaution. It’s not pretty but it works.

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We are still testing out various amounts of pulp to get an idea of how much to use for consistent sized bricks. Our first test was using shredded confetti document paper soaked in a 55 gallon barrel. Our next test will be a papercrete mix. Above we filled the form with a measured amount of pulp.

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Next is placing the top piece in position.

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Applying pressure on the top of the form by moving the lever arm down.

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After the first press we reverse the form to get an even amount of pressure.

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After the second press we are ready to remove the form and then pop out the compressed brick.

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Here is the result. A paper brick compressed to 5.5″ W x 4″ H x 12″L.

Learning Curve

We ran into a few problems in the process.

Problem: The form and top piece got wet and slightly swelled, making the form compression process somewhat difficult.
Solution: Planed the outside edges of the top piece, and plan on buying and slathering on multiple coats of polyurethane next time we travel into Babylon.

Problem: Removing the brick from the form.
Solution: Removing the form from the press, turning the form upside down and pressing it down onto another 2″ x 4″ to pop the brick out of the bottom. (I’ll take photos of this step next test we do.)

So far we are pleased with the results. Once we nail the mix, and smooth out the kinks in the process we’ll start cranking out bricks to use for various building projects.

Here is Leland’s video showing you the original intent of the press… enjoy!