Half-timbered clay construction in the Netherlands

Artisan and sustainable

A half-timbered house consists of a timber frame that is filled with loam; both the skeleton and the filling have a specific function.

In the woodwork, we distinguish the actual skeleton and the stack-braiding of stakes. The skeleton ensures the stability of the building. It absorbs the compressive, tensile and bending forces created by the action of the wood. The braid supports the padding.

Loam not only fills the compartments in the walls, but also regulates the heat and moisture balance of the house.

The most important properties of the material are discussed in the last chapter. The skeleton was made in parts on the ground. The mortise and tenon joints are held in place with bar nails; the truss was then assembled on site.

When filling with loam, the wall is divided into smaller sections. The uprights and rails form the boundaries. Use gloves when filling.

When the entire section between two lines is filled with loam mixture, the second layer is applied. To obtain good adhesion between the two layers, the second layer is applied while the first is still plastic.

In the Netherlands, the traditional half-timbered house is whitewashed with lime; both the wood and the clay. This requires; wet slaked lime, casein and water. Mix (1 part lime, 1 part casein, 20 parts water) to a thin milk of lime. Apply preferably in a humid period (spring or autumn). The first layer can be put directly on the wet loam. The lime layer has a limited lifespan, which is why it is necessary to repeat this procedure every two to three years.

Loam is excellent for creating decorative elements.

It is quite easy to apply a sculpture to the clay wall. You can create original ornaments with materials such as glass, ceramics or stone. The clay walls on the inside of the house are particularly suitable for the fresco technique. This technique used to be used in the so-called ‘clean room’; the residents showed their wealth with this. Nowadays, this technique can be applied well in representative areas such as offices or reception rooms. This technique also replaces wallpaper and painting.

The restoration of a half-timbered house takes place in several steps. In principle, everything can be replaced.

Modern clay house

In Margraten is the modern half-timbered house of Frank and Monique Radder. It is sustainably built by local craftsmen from wood and loam. And as far as we know, it is the first modern half-timbered house in the Netherlands for 150 years.

For Tierrafino’s half-timbered building, see the Arnhem Open Air Museum, among others

Read the article Building with loam. Building with Earth.  or go to the other pages about clay building techniques.


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