Papercrete Dome

Building with geodesic domes gives you a strong, weather resistant structure that has been used since WWI. Brandon has started a geodesic papercrete dome in Arkansas using shrink wrap, metal tubing and sprayed papercrete for the insulation. Brandon says the best way to get the papercrete on the structure goes something like this:

  1. Soak paper in water for a while (overnight) we use a 55-gallon metal drum for this.
  2. Tear wet paper into strips (this helps keep the sheets of paper from wrapping around the mixer blades)
  3. Put the strips into another 55-gallon drum filled a little over half full with water until the mix comes about a foot from the top of the barrel.
  4. Build a fire under the paper/water mixture to heat the water up. This is probably not necessary but it is a lot more fun working with hot papercrete in the winter, also I expect that it makes the end result more pulpy. I just put the entire barrel on cement blocks and shove wood/trash under it and light it on fire.
  5. Blend the heating mix with Drillzilla, a powerful but low speed drill I talked about earlier.
  6. Mix cement powder with warm paper/water pulp in three 5-gallon buckets using a high speed drill mixer. I am adding about three quarts of cement powder per 5-gallon bucket. I am sure you could use more or less than this, but I like the results of this mix. If you have the right drill attachement and the right consistency of pulp it mixes like a big milkshake in just a few seconds.
  7. Dump the three mixed 5-gallon buckets into a large plastic bin that I can scoop it out of with the sparyer. This just makes it easier than trying to scoop it out of the little 5-gallon buckets into the sprayer hopper.
  8. Blast it all over the walls in multiple coats. I found that if you put it on too thick then it falls off, so it has to be done in multiple layers and allowed to dry between each coat. The first layer almost but not completely covers the plastic. The sprayer leaves a rough texture on the outside that will hold much thicker subsequent layers. I suspect for a 1-2 inch thickness it will take four layers.
Block made from papercrete Papercrete Dome
Above are the papercrete blocks Brandon made as he was choosing the mix for his dome. Here is the starting exterior of Brandons dome showing the shrink wrap covering the frame.

We also appreciated his creative use of trampoline for his sleeping loft. Way to go Brandon! For more information on Drillzilla and the rest of Brandon’s papercrete adventure, or if you would like to follow his dome building, you can visit his blog at:

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