Building a home from recycled materials like newspapers can be a fun and eco-friendly project. Newspapers provide great insulation and are easily obtainable, making them a prime material for constructing a small recycled home. Follow these steps to learn how to build your own newspaper home from the ground up.
Planning Your Newspaper Home
Before gathering materials, you’ll first want to plan out your newspaper home. Consider the following:
- How big do you want the home to be? Small sheds can be built with just 100-200 newspaper bundles while larger cottages may require 500 or more.
- Where will the home be situated? Choose a flat, dry area with good drainage. Make sure you have space to work.
- Estimate how many newspaper bundles you’ll need based on size. You’ll also need wood framing, lathing wire, stucco, adhesive, and roofing.
- Decide on a layout. A simple gable or A-frame design is easiest. Draw up plans to guide your build.
- Research whether you need a permit based on the size and location of the build. Permits ensure proper codes are met.
Gathering Newspaper Materials
The construction process starts with gathering enough newspaper. Here’s how to acquire materials:
Estimating Needed Amounts
- For a 100 sq ft shed, you may need 1000+ lbs of newspaper. Larger builds require significantly more.
- Check local recycling centers, dumps, or neighbors. Many people throw away newspapers.
- Remove glossy ads, coupons, and color pages. Black and white newsprint works best.
Rolling into Bundles
- Roll 4-6 sheets into 1-2 inch diameter logs. Tie with twine every 2 feet to create bundles.
- Store bundles under a tarp or roof until ready to use to keep dry. Wet newspaper won’t insulate.
Constructing the Frame
The frame provides the structure to hold the newspaper insulation. Follow these steps:
Design the Frame
- Use wood 2x4s and 2x6s to frame the floors, walls, and roof according to your plans.
- Erect the frame pieces and securely nail/screw them together. The frame must be sturdy.
Add Support Beams
- Insert vertical and diagonal beams for extra reinforcement against newspaper weight.
Install Lathing Wire
- Staple #9 lathing wire in a grid pattern onto the outside of the frame. This will hold the newspaper.
Add Moisture Barrier
- Before adding newspaper, staple sheets of plastic sheeting to the lathing wire to prevent moisture damage.
Installing Newspaper Insulation
Now it’s time to add the newspaper insulation between the frame structures:
Stuff Floors and Walls
- Densely pack newspaper bundles into the wall and floor cavities. Stomp bundles down.
Alternate Bundle Ends
- Stagger the ends of the bundles to eliminate seams for better insulation.
- Pack as tightly as possible, leaving no gaps. Gaps can reduce insulation quality.
- For the roof, lay bundles in a herringbone pattern across rafters. Pack tightly.
- Use a moisture meter to check for dampness. Immediately replace any wet sections.
Applying Exterior Siding
To weatherproof the home, you’ll need to add exterior siding over the newspaper:
Staple Lathing Wire
- First, staple additional lathing wire over the newspaper to hold the siding.
- Trowel on a 3/4 inch layer of stucco over the lathing wire to create a concrete exterior.
Consider Siding Alternatives
- For a wood look, you can nail wide cedar boards directly onto the frame instead of using stucco.
- Once the stucco cures or siding is installed, paint the exterior with water sealing paint for protection.
- Seal any cracks or seams with exterior caulking to prevent moisture intrusion.
Building Roof and Interior
The last steps are constructing the roof, adding insulation, and building interior rooms:
- Build sloped rafters and frame the roof with 2x4s. Align with newspaper insulation inside.
Install Waterproof Roofing
- Nail asphalt composite shingles or metal sheeting to the roof frame to make waterproof.
- From the inside, staple R-13 fiberglass batts over the newspaper in the roof.
Add Drywall Interior
- Screw drywall sheets to the interior side of wall framing and tape seams.
Build Interior Rooms
- Frame interior walls and add doors, trim, and paint. Install plumbing and electrical as desired.
And that’s it! With good planning, sourcing, and construction, you can create your own cozy home from recycled newspapers. Just follow these steps and you’ll be living in your newspaper house in no time. Let me know if you have any other questions!