Building with Hemp – What You Should Know

by Alfred van der Heide
construction workers

The conversation around hemp continues to create divided opinions. However, we can all agree that hemp is one of the most versatile materials. Apart from its medicinal uses, hemp is used in various industries, including the building industry. Several builders are now building with hemp. The several benefits that this plant offers make it the ideal building material for those concerned about the safety of the environment. It also has good insulation properties, making it a valuable building material. Here is everything you should know about building with hemp.

How do You Use Hemp in Construction?

The standard method of using hemp in construction is to create hempcrete. Hempcrete, also known as hemp blocks, is made by mixing the hemp plant’s woody stem with a lime-based binder. This mixture creates a material that can be form molds. Several builders prefer using hemp blocks to other building materials due to their load-bearing, breathable, sustainable, and insulting properties. Hemp blocks can be used to construct walls, ceilings, roof insulation, and floor slabs. It is also the perfect building material for roof insulation. The good thing about using hemp for the building is that it can be used in new constructions and renovations.

The History of Hempcrete

Hempcrete was first used in France in the mid-1980s. The pioneers of this excellent building material were looking for the best replacement for deteriorated wattle and daub in their medieval timber frame building when they came across Hempcrete. They were also looking for a breathable material that will protect their houses from damage. It was discovered that adding lime mortars to the hemp plant’s stem creates a breathable and heat-insulating building material. Moreover, they discovered that hempcrete is friendly to the environment compared to conventional building materials.

Is Hempcrete Legal?

The 2018 farm bill allows growers to produce industrial hemp in America. In Europe, growers are allowed to grow hemp. However, they must buy their seeds from certified sellers. Their farms are also inspected occasionally. Hempcrete should have less than 0.3% THC levels.

Benefits of Building with Hemp

Hempcrete has several benefits to offer apart from its durability. The following are the top benefits of hempcrete as a building material:

spiral staircase

Did you know that hemp is 85% cellulose, almost three times more than trees?

Hempcrete Have Lower Zero Carbon Footprint

One of the leading benefits of using hemp as a building material is that it absorbs high carbon levels from the air. The production of hempcrete does not produce high carbon levels, as is the case with traditional building materials like concrete. What is more, is that its transportation of hempcrete also reduced carbon production.

Hempcrete is a Breathable Building Material

Since hempcrete can absorb moisture from the air into the walls when it is humid, it keeps the walls damp-free. Hempcrete walls will then release the absorbed humidity to the air once humidity levels drop. Due to this property, hempcrete will prevent mold and bacteria from growing on your walls.

It Has Heat Insulating Properties

Hempcrete has superior thermal performance that will allow you to stay warm and cold. Using this building material on your building will keep your rooms warm or cold regardless of the weather.

Hemp for Building is Eco-Friendly

Since hempcrete production does not involve the woody inner part of the hemp plant, it can be considered a by-product. Using it to create or renovate your building helps to reduce waste. What is more, is that hemp is a non-toxic plant that does not need pesticides or fungicides. Besides, it can stop the growth of bacteria and mold due to the lime-binder mix.

Fire Resistance

Although hemp blocks char when burnt, they will not burn entirely without a fight. Surfaces constructed using this building material can withstand fires for about two hours.

Hempcrete Offer Acoustic Insulation

Hemp blocks dampen sound waves by acting as a real sound trap. Using hemp on your walls, floors, or interior partitions will therefore protect you from noise pollution.

Hempcrete VS Concrete

construction worker cutting concrete

In the USA alone more than 10 million people are employed in the construction industry.

One of the notable differences between hempcrete and concrete is produced. While concrete is made from crushed rocks and coarse gravels, hempcrete production is less costly and quick. Unlike concrete, hempcrete is cheap and eco-friendly.

How to Use Hempcrete

You can use hemp blocks for partitioning, filling masonry, or as a second wall in new buildings or renovations. The following are various ways of using hempcrete:

Interior Insulation

Using hemp blocks for interior insulation will eliminate thermal bridges that allow cold to come through. They will also regulate moisture and act as real sound traps. Hemp blocks used for interior insulation are also fire-resistant.

New Builds

Using hemp blocks for new buildings guarantees success while offering humidity regulation and sustainability. The thermal and acoustic properties of hemp blocks also guarantee comfort. They also offer endless finishing options.

Interior Masonry

Hemp blocks for new builds and renovations offer simplicity, lightness, acoustic, and, thermal comfort. It can be used to construct inner walls for homes and industrial buildings.

Exterior Insulation

Hemp blocks are the perfect choice for homeowners who want to improve the optimal performance of the whole building. The good thing with hemp blocks is that they will still allow you to dress your facades.

Extensions

You should turn to hemp blocks if you want to enlarge your living space. Hemp blocks for extensions offer easy and quick solutions. Hemp blocks also offer thermal and acoustic insulation.

Floor Insulation

Building owners who want to insulate their floors can turn to hemp blocks. Apart from insulating the slab, hemp blocks will also offer adequate support for the screed. It can be combined with a range of screeds starting from lime, clay to cement.

Flat Roof Insulation

You can turn to hemp blocks if you want to prevent your building from overheating during the summer. The good thing with using hemp blocks for insulation is that they are quick and easy to install. Hemp blocks also offer a durable flat roof insulation solution.

Hemp Houses

Hemp house in Asheville, North Carolina

Hemp house in Asheville, North Carolina

Hemp has been used to make various notable houses in the world. The recently constructed hemp house in Asheville, North Carolina, is a perfect example of various hemp houses worldwide.

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