What is Hempcrete?

Hempcrete Construction

a) Definition of Hempcrete

Hempcrete is a construction brick or insulation material. It is also referred to as hemplime. Hempcrete is made from the inner part of the stalk of the hemp plant called hurds or shives. To make hempcrete, first hemp shives or hurds are ground. Then hempcrete is derived from combining various other materials. Some engineers mix only three materials namely, hemp hurds, lime, and water. Other engineers mix more construction materials namely, hemp hurds, lime, sand, pozzolans, and water to get a hempcrete brick.

Benefits of Hempcrete

Hemp is revolutionizing the construction industry in many parts of the world because of its many advantages over traditional construction bricks. The main advantage of hemp over other building materials is that it is planet-friendly. The industrial hemp plant takes not more than four months to fully mature. Hemp is, therefore, a very good alternative to traditional building materials which are usually mined from forested areas, or mined from the earth. This is disadvantageous because using traditional building materials leaves little forest cover over the earth. As such, using hempcrete saves forests. Some of such such trees are decades old, some have more than 100 years old and play a very essential ecology role in the environment.

The other advantage of hemp is in its features. First, it is lightweight, secondly, it is not brittle. Therefore, no expansion joints are required during building.

Hempcrete is also a suitable building material because it is strong and durable. In addition, hempcrete is also breathable, fire-resistant and mold-proof. It is also suitable for earthquake-prone areas.

Furthermore, hempcrete is a perfect insulation and moisture regular material for commercial and residential buildings, more so, it is cost-friendly and ecological, having a little negative impact on the environment. Hemp can be used for the interior and exterior walls of a building. Consequently, homes built with hempcrete are more energy-efficient because hemp is a good insulation material.

b) History of Hempcrete

Hemp fiber was used as a construction material historically. It is recorded that in the 6th Century, France built a hemp-reinforced bridge, a strong and petrified bridge. Egyptians also used ropes made from hemp in constructing their pyramids. What about the recent past? In 1986, Charles Rasetti an innovator from France, renovated the Maison de la Turquie using hempcrete.

In the UK, hempline was used employed to the test in two dwellings in the year 2000. Whereas, in the USA, in August 2010, a home was made in Asheville, North Carolina using materials made from hemp. However, before the legalization of hemp in the USA, it was quite expensive to build using hemp because the material had to be imported. Things are expected to change as more farmers are expected to grow hemp in the coming months and years, and in essence, supply the market of the much-needed fiber.

c) The Future of Hempcrete

The future of a sustainable world will be preceded by research because all ideas have to be practical. Hemp is a green building material that is gaining popularity globally because of environmental concerns over traditional building materials. There are various houses that have successfully been constructed using hemp material in America and across Europe.

It is because the world needs to find sustainable industrial practices to reduce global warming. And since hempcrete has carbon negative properties, it is a sustainable building material. Therefore, hemp can be a substitute for many products that are not sustainable. First and foremost, hemp takes a very short time to grow, in addition, it uses fewer pesticides and insecticides in comparison to other crops.

The good thing is that researchers are finding innovative ways to use hemp as a building and construction material. Some organizations prefer to construct hempcrete panels rather than hempcrete bricks.

Hemp can be used to make various building and construction materials including concrete so-called hempcrete, bricks, insulation, stucco, wall boards, roofing tiles, plastic boards, panels among others.

 d) Frequently asked questions about Hempcrete

What parts of the house can you use hemp for construction?

Hemp can be used for most of a buildings’ construction including the wall, ceiling, flooring and roof installation.

Can hemp be used for constructing the foundation of a building?

Worth noting is that hemp does not have the required strength for doing foundations. Hemp is usually supported by a frame. It is, therefore, a wall material, roof material, flooring or insulation material and not a foundation material. However, there is a lot of research on-going about using hemp and this could change in the future with new innovations.

Which one is stronger, hempcrete or traditional concrete?

Hempcrete is stronger than concrete and a good building material in earthquake-prone areas too.

Why is Hempcrete Advantageous over other building materials?

There are quite many advantages of using. It is more eco-friendly than lumber. The material also requires very little refining and processing, making it less expensive to manufacture. Buildings constructed with hempcrete are more elastic, up to three times than traditional buildings. Furthermore, hempcrete is seven times stronger and also lighter.

Because hemp is a better insulation material, it reduces energy costs, helping you to cut down on energy expenses.

Are there any disadvantages to using hempcrete?

Unlike concrete which is an old building material, hempcrete is quite new in the construction industry. There are, therefore, very few contractors with experience in using hempcrete. Inexperienced architects may need to familiarize themselves with the technical specifications of the material before using it.

The good thing is that hempcrete is gaining popularity and additionally, a lot of research is being carried out. Although there lacks proper guidelines in architecture and other educational institutions on how to use it, this will soon be history. Following the legalization of the 2018 Farm Bill, more institutions are expected to conduct more research and provide building guidelines for hempcrete.

Is Hempcrete Used in the same way as concrete?

Actually, it is easier to use hempcrete than other traditional building materials.

Is it cheaper to build with Hempcrete?

Following the legalization of industrial hemp, more USA farmers are expected to grow industrial hemp. This will result in the material being locally available in most states in the USA. In the past, it was not economical to build with industrial hemp because the material had to be imported from China.

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