How to Build a Home From Recycled Cardboard

How to Build a Home From Recycled Cardboard

How to Build a Home From Recycled Cardboard

Why Build With Cardboard?

Cardboard is an inexpensive, eco-friendly building material that has many advantages for home construction. Here are some of the main reasons to consider building with recycled cardboard:

  • Cost savings: Cardboard is much cheaper than conventional building materials like wood, brick or concrete. Recycled cardboard can often be obtained for free or very low cost. This allows you to build an inexpensive home.

  • Sustainability: Constructing with recycled cardboard reduces waste and your environmental impact. It gives used cardboard a new lease on life.

  • Customization: Cardboard can be cut, bent, folded and stacked in countless ways. This allows you to customize the home’s shape and features. Cardboard’s flexibility lends itself well to creative designs.

  • Ease of use: Basic cardboard construction mainly requires simple tools like box cutters, drills, and glue. The lightweight material is easy for one person to handle. Minimal building skills are required.

  • Insulation: Stacked cardboard walls provide good insulation. The air pockets in corrugated cardboard trap air to keep your home warm in winter and cool in summer.

Choosing Suitable Cardboard

The type of cardboard you select will impact the durability and structure of your home. Here are some things to look for when sourcing cardboard:

  • Corrugated cardboard – The thicker and more layered the corrugated cardboard, the stronger it will be. Choose cardboard with multiple inner corrugated layers rather than thinner single-layer alternatives.

  • Moisture-resistant – Look for wax coated or moisture-resistant cardboard as it will hold up better to the elements. Avoid absorbent cardboard like food packaging.

  • Large sheets – Big sheets of cardboard are preferable as they limit the number of seams in walls and surfaces. Target large boxes from appliances and furniture companies.

  • No printing – Ink and print complicate recycling. Opt for unused plain brown cardboard boxes and sheets. Avoid painted or printed surfaces.

  • Heavy-duty – For added durability, seek heavy-duty triple-wall cardboard used for industrial shipping. The three layers of fluting make it extra sturdy.

Tools You’ll Need

Building a full home from cardboard requires few supplies. Here are some must-have tools:

  • Utility knife – For precise cutting and scoring of the cardboard. Opt for breakaway blades for safety.

  • Carpenter’s square – Allows you to cut straight lines and achieve right angles. Helpful for precision.

  • Electric drill – Makes drilling pilot holes and driving screws easier. Select one with adjustable torque settings.

  • Cordless screwdriver – A compact screwdriver simplifies driving long screws into the cardboard assembly. Extenders boost your reach.

  • Staple gun – A heavy-duty staple gun with an adjustable depth drive is useful for assembling the structure.

  • Saw – A hand saw or jigsaw assists in making cuts for windows, doorways, and angled walls.

  • Sandpaper – Lightly sanding rough edges helps cardboard pieces fit together neatly.

  • Glue – Opt for adhesives designed for cardboard when assembling more permanent structures.

Architectural Design Tips

Careful planning is required to build a functional and safe cardboard abode. Keep these architectural principles in mind:

  • Load-bearing – Strategically use thicker stacked cardboard, wood beams, or an internal frame for load-bearing walls. This prevents collapse.

  • Angled walls – Avoid 90 degree connections between walls. Add angles and curves to strengthen the structure.

  • Waterproof – Seal the roof and exterior walls completely to make them water resistant. Overhangs also prevent water intrusion.

  • Insulate – Layering cardboard traps air pockets that insulate your home. Supplement with recycled cotton, paper, or plastic bottles filling gaps.

  • Ventilation – Allow for cross breezes by including vents and windows on multiple sides. This circulation prevents moisture buildup.

  • Level foundation – Set the cardboard on a flat wooden platform or concrete slab to keep it off the ground. Prevent rotting.

Construction Steps

Follow these key steps to start building your cardboard abode:

Frame the Structure

  • Create a skeleton from 2×4 lumber to outline floors, walls and roof. Nail or screw together at corners.

  • Attach plywood and rebar reinforcements to anchor and further strengthen critical structural points.

Add Walls and Partitions

  • Use vertical cardboard sheets to form the exterior walls. Staple or glue panels into place over the frame.

  • Stack multiple corrugated layers for load-bearing interior walls. Angle wall connections for stability.

  • Insert partitions to divide rooms. Leave openings for future windows and doors.

Install Windows and Doors

  • Carefully measure and cut openings for windows and doors using a saw. Sand the edges smooth.

  • Affix plywood or additional framing around openings to provide structural support.

  • Add cardboard shutters, flaps or reuse doors and windows from other buildings where possible.

Build the Roof

  • Create triangular gable frames out of cardboard beams to form the sloped roof.

  • Make waterproof using multiple cardboard layers sealed with water resistant coatings.

  • Overhang roofing on all sides to direct rainwater away from the walls.

Final Touches

  • Seal surfaces with waterproof paint or coatings like polyurethane to weatherproof the home.

  • Consider creative exterior finishes like shingles made from cardboard scraps.

  • Add insulation, then gypsum board or plastered cardboard for interior walls.

With smart design and quality recycled materials, you can construct a functional home at a fraction of standard building costs. Get creative with cardboard construction techniques to build your ideal eco-abode. The possibilities are endless!