Looking for distributors to carry the Silox Adobe and Rammed Earth water repellent in their stores. Please call or text Roy Spears at (520) 331-4004 for information.
Rammed earth (pise de terre) is an ancient building technique that uses heavily reinforced wooden forms to construct massive earthen walls. Parts of the Great Wall of China, thousands of years old, were constructed using this system. Though an extremely labor intensive method of construction, the end result can be a beautifully layered and multi-hued wall that can endure well over a lifetime.
Silox Adobe Water Repellents are formulated specifically for adobe and rammed earth. An “Adobe Master” approved product which is now on sale (Internet sales only. Regular price is $139.75 per five-gallon bucket but is now 10% off: now $125.79 per five-gallon bucket. Custom orders do not receive this discounted pricing. Now available in our retail locations in Phoenix (602-510-2451) and Sedona (928-204-1706). We ship across the country.
Personally, if I was given the choice of owning and living in any home of my choosing, it would be rammed earth. These modern earthen structures are not only solidly constructed, but their thick walls are energy efficient. Some people are surprised when I say this, believing that I would choose to live in an adobe home.
Though adobe homes are beautiful in their own right, the massive nature of rammed earth walls impart a unique feeling of strength and security that other building choices cannot measure up to.
But rammed earth, like adobe, is susceptible to water damage and needs to be protected the same as adobe. One of the issues with rammed earth is “shedding,” discussed below and shown in the pictures above.
My professional interest in rammed earth homes is not from a restoration perspective; I cannot remember a single instance when I worked on a rammed earth structure due to the walls suffering from any type of deterioration. This is not to suggest that rammed earth walls do not deteriorate, and the same enemy of adobe is the same for rammed earth: water.
I have applied a water repellent to the interior walls of two rammed earth homes. One of these homes where this was done was on a home that was under construction. The walls were up, but the roof had not yet been installed. As explained below, one of the problems with rammed earth walls is their issue with shedding: small particles of dirt sloughing off from the walls.
Rammed earth walls “shed” if they are not properly treated with a specialty product designed to halt this process. The small pebbles, rocks and other granular matter that make up these walls will, over time and even as soon as the forms are stripped from the constructing of the walls, detach from the walls and land on the exterior ground, concrete, or inside of the home.
This shedding can become a problem for rammed earth homeowners; the small particles continually falling from the walls can wreak havoc on expensive flooring, particularly wood floors if the rammed earth particles are unintentionally ground underfoot.
To solve this problem, Adobe Masters uses a product from the “Silox” family of water repellents designed just for this issue, called “Silox Anti-Dust.” Please follow this link for additional information on this product: “Silox Anti-Dust.”
Applied correctly on the interior rammed earth walls, this will solve 95%-98% of the shedding problem, saving you labor from constantly having to vacuum and sweep up the grains of sand and also potentially saving your expensive flooring from being permanently damaged.
Phone testimonial from Sheila with her success using the Silox Adobe Water Repellent for her interior walls:
The “Silox Anti-Dust” is also easy to apply, particularly if your walls have recently gone up and no windows or doors have been installed. Here is a video of one piece of equipment we use to apply it, which is the same equipment we use when applying the Silox Adobe Water Repellent to customer’s exterior adobe walls:
This is what I did to both of the houses mentioned above. On the one house that was still under construction and did not yet have the roof, windows or doors installed, this was a relatively simple process. I came to the job site with my spray equipment and was able to complete the entire job in one day. There was no need for any elaborate and time consuming masking needed to protect windows and flooring, so this was considered a “dream job.”
The other rammed earth house was on the opposite end of the scale. It had already been completed, the owners were moved in, and they hired me to solve the problem of the annoying and damaging shedding of their walls. Unlike the other house, virtually everything in the interior needed to be protected and required extensive masking…not your definition of a “dream job” by any stretch of the imagination.
Rammed earth homes will have this shedding problem unless the walls are treated in some fashion. If the home has carpeting, this shedding, though annoying, is not nearly as damaging to the carpet as it is to wood flooring, as explained above.
Rammed earth homeowners, in seeking to solve this problem, use a variety of products in their search of a solution. As we know, the Internet offers a plethora of remedies, with some being better than others. One has to be careful what method they ultimately choose because some of the remedies will cause the walls to be considerably darkened and appear grungy and dirty looking.
The Silox “Anti-Dust” formulation will not alter the color of the interior rammed earth walls, depending on what strength of the Silox you wish to use. It comes in at least two formulations, and each of them has their strengths and weaknesses.
The two formulations are either a 10% or 5% acrylic solids. The 10% will offer a better binding up of the dirt particles, but this will also leave a slight sheen on your walls.
The exterior of rammed earth walls should also be treated with a quality water repellent formulated specifically for earthen structures: the Silox Adobe and Rammed Earth Water Repellent (click here to be taken to information page) is an excellent choice for this.
In April of 2018, I was contacted by rammed earth homeowner Christine who lives in Texas. She wrote:
“I have a rammed earth home outside of ****, Tx; walls were erected in 2006 by Tucson based wall builder; a general contractor completed home in 2010 & sealed walls with an aqueous solution (precise product unknown) outside & inside.
Maintenance question – Should we follow a regular interval of continuing to seal the structure? Erosion is minimal on a few exterior westerly corners where wind & water whip the area more than the rest of the structure.
Let me know your recommendations.”
She sent me two pictures (click on them to enlarge):
Christine, without realizing it, is asking about two separate and distinct situations: the statuses of both her interior and exterior rammed earth walls. Most people do not realize that what is beneficial for the interior of rammed earth walls is not necessarily the same for their exterior walls, and vice-versa.
I briefly wrote about this above in describing the “Silox Anti-Dust” formulation for interior rammed earth walls and will delve more deeply into the reasonings for these differences in strategies.
A true story will help to clarify this:
Over 20 years ago, I participated in several local home improvement shows in my home town of Tucson, AZ. These “home shows” were extremely popular, held in the arena of the Tucson Community Center.
Hundreds of contractors and home improvement businesses set up for three days and advertised their goods and services in the vast, indoor arena. Thousands of potential customers would walk by my booth in the three days and, at the end of the event, I might have thirty, forty or more bids to go on. It was some of the best advertising dollars I spent and well worth the investment in both time and money.
One year, my booth was set up across from a prominent local rammed earth builder. Since we saw each other over the course of three days and shared a mutual interest in earth construction, it was natural for us to introduce ourselves to each other.
At this point, I knew practically nothing about rammed earth, and I look back on that home show as the genesis of my subsequent life long interest and involvement in this incredible method of earthen construction.
During one of our conversations, I learned about one of the inherent problems of rammed earth, that it “shed.” This was not much of an issue beyond the possibility of it being a nuisance as far as the outside of the house was concerned, but when it came to the inside of one’s home, the problem intensified and became a legitimate cause of concern.
As I described above, rammed earth homeowners often utilize expensive flooring in their interiors. One of their greatest concerns is the real problem of the rammed earth dropping small particles of earth, sand and even small rocks onto their expensive flooring, most notably their wood flooring. These particles can then be ground underfoot by walking on them and grinding them into the wood, or by having a vacuum cleaner running over them. It is easy to understand the damage that can occur because of this.
This builder explained that, to help mitigate this problem, he often “sealed” the interior of his rammed earth walls. Of course, with my background in formulating water repellents, I expressed great interest in this aspect of his business.
He told me the name of the product he was using; it was a well-known and relatively expensive one. I was very familiar with it because it was a direct competitor of the Silox brand.
Since I was familiar with the formulations that went into the Silox Adobe Water Repellent, the cost of the various chemicals it was comprised of and what the chemicals contributed to the overall effectiveness of it, I realized something: the most expensive chemical in the product that this builder was using to “seal” the inside of his rammed earth walls was unnecessary.
The reason I say this is based on science and common sense, but putting the two together and applying it to a product that protects rammed earth walls is not necessarily intuitive. Without a background in the chemicals that make up “sealers” and “water repellents” and what these various chemicals do and don’t do, these principles are not usually connected as they apply to protecting rammed earth walls.
For ordering information on the “Silox Rammed Earth Water Repellent,” call or text Roy Spears at (520) 331-4004 or email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org