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There are several ways to create a custom home. As our planet pushes for more sustainable ways of life, green building materials and practices have expanded. From abandoned shipping containers to the soil below us, using available materials that would otherwise sit around as waste is a great idea when building a custom home. If you want a sustainable custom home, consider building with tire bales.

Tire bales are sort of like hay or straw bales, except for the fact that tire bales are 2.5’ x 5’ x 4.5’ and weight about 2200 pounds each. Using 100 tires bound together with wire or steel straps, these massive “bricks” can be built into an amazing, sustainable custom home. 

Recycled tires aren’t melted down and remade into new tires. Instead, tires from passenger cars and commercials trucks are often ground up and used to create things like roads or soft playground surfaces. Naturally, the use of tires made its way into the engineering and construction industries. 

One common aspect of what makes a home sustainable is the insulation value of the materials used to build it. Green custom homes need to stay naturally toasty during winter and cool during summer. The way tire bale homes are engineered and designed provides sustainable thermal control through the whole house.

Tire bale walls are thick. While there may appear to be gaps between the tires, the compression of materials leaves only 5% air space within the bale. Any remaining gaps are filled with a sprayable concrete to add insulation value to the tire bales and finish the walls. The Colorado School of Mines estimated the R-value of the resulting wall at 40-41.6 for a 5’ thick tire bale wall. This is over 3x the insulation value of a traditional stick-frame home. 

The thickness of the bales also means it is difficult to cut windows into the structure. For this reason, the standard design of a custom tire bale home is to have one side of the house made completely free of windows. Doing this actually increases the sustainability of the structure! A south-facing wall of windows will allow for passive solar gain. This means the design lets in maximum sunlight for warmth in winter, while a properly angled and extended roofline will then shade the windows from the heat of the high summer sun.

A properly engineered custom home made of tire bales could be the answer to your next building project. Having such control over the insulation value and sustainability of your building materials is a benefit found only when building a custom home. Plus, the heating and cooling savings alone make this a smart green material choice!

If you are interested in creating a custom home from tire bales, call the experienced team at PSE Consulting Engineers. Our expert structural engineers can help homeowners build the custom home of their dreams. Contact us today to get started!