adobe houses

Construction with adobe bricks is an ancient technique common in the Americas and the Middle East. The oldest buildings on earth dating back to at least 8300 BC are made of adobe. Some buildings around 900 years old are still in use.


"Adobe" is the Spanish name derived from the older Arabic "al-tob", dating from the Moorish occupation of Spain. The construction of adobe houses has been a popular choice since the earliest settlers.

Today, Adobe brick construction has been partially adapted to economic, social and technical changes.


What is adobe?

Adobe or mud is one of the oldest and most widely used building materials. It has gained quality throughout the previous era, thanks to its impressive energy-saving qualities. As a consequence of its friendly qualities in addition to its economical ones. The houses produce an ideal environment for people living in hot atmospheric conditions and low humidity.


Adobe bricks are clay blocks made with a mold, slightly larger than a brick. They are used to form walls. The adobes are stacked in the same way as bricks and are joined together using clay or lime and sand.


Adobe Houses

There are many ways to produce the blocks to build an adobe house in Mexico, depending on the tradition of the place and the degree of mechanization of the factory. They can be made completely manually, with box-shaped molds or "wooden scales", in which each "step" forms the space of an adobe.


After the mold is filled, it is lifted and moved to a new location to make another set, so that the newly made adobes are air-dried on all four sides. Once the adobes are completely dry, they are removed from the ground and used as bricks, using the same clay they are made of as mortar, so that the entire wall is made of adobe. The walls can be finished with a plaster in several layers of mud or mud and lime.


When a house is built with adobe, the beams and studs are made of wood, but they can be made of any material, such as prefabricated beams or iron. Mud behaves well with any other material and can also be mixed with brick partitions without major problems.


The building blocks of beautiful adobe houses are created with a mixture of earth, water and straw. However, the adobe mixture, without straw, is very desirable as it acquires almost mortar-like characteristics.


The walls of adobe and wood houses are sufficiently capable of limiting the sun's rays of lesser intensity. And, they force them in to heat their interior and begin to transfer heat into the house. Currently, when the sun is near, the temperature tends to call for these specific areas. Thus, the wall transmits the heat to the interior during the following hours. Having the associated influence of the result of it.


These eco-friendly adobe houses. They have a roof created from a mixture that constitutes clay, water, sand, and alternative organic materials. These materials are molded and planked into a wooden form. To result in a series of dried mud bricks that are then laid across a wooden support structure and plastered in place with more adobe.


Main characteristics of adobe houses

  • Thick, rounded-edged walls.
  • Earthen materials such as adobe mud brick or imitation masonry and stucco.
  • Natural, earth colors outside and inside.
  • Solid wood roof and ceiling beams, porch posts and doors.
  • Flat or gently pitched roofs.
  • Roof wall and parapet.
  • Projecting wooden roof beams (rafters) extending through walls.
  • Channels to drain water from the roof.
  • Small square windows set deep in the walls.
  • The floor plan is centered on an enclosed courtyard.
  • Upper floors set back in steps.
  • Corner beehive chimneys.
  • Benches built into the walls.
  • Interior wall niches.
  • Brick, flagstone or wood floors.
  • Wide porches.


Technical characteristics of adobe

Shape: square or rectangular plan, 1:4 ratio between height and length, height 8cm.

Stabilized adobe: with additives such as lime or oils to improve characteristics.

Water content: 4% after complete drying Drying: 28 days with temperatures below 5C°, protecting the adobe from water and rain.

Use: after 28 days of drying, wet them with water before applying the mortar.

Specific weight: 1600 kg/m3 Thermal conductivity: 0.46 W/mK Noise insulation: 50 db/0.4 m wall thickness.

Transmittance: 0.66 W/m2K.


Basics for an adobe house

A strategically well-structured adobe wall house. Created with the tightest material proportions and acceptable thickness. It is credited as one of the most natural thanks to the influence of the strange temperature conditions. An element that has contributed to its longevity as an artifact.



To maximize the benefits of adobe and tile houses. It is advisable to create them through proper design. Hiring an expert associate who handles sensible data on the mix of materials and their proportions. In addition, these houses do not adapt well to all climatic conditions. In particular, to geographical areas with higher humidity, since humidity weakens adobe.


Adobe houses advantages and disadvantages

Adobe is an ideal material for building, it is practical, manageable and easy to modify what has been built, being a hard and rough material that resists the passage of time with proper maintenance.


Its main advantage is that it is easy to manufacture almost anywhere in the world where it can be built, the basic materials of adobe can be found anywhere.


Advantages of an adobe house

People who lived in ancient adobe houses under robust environmental conditions driven by warm, sunny days and cool nights. They created the best use of these structures for their survival, even under strange circumstances.


They understood the very fact that these mud walls will act as a higher heat reservoir due to the inherent thermal properties of the massive walls typical of adobe construction. In addition, the exterior of the associated adobe wall will be clad in glass to extend the heat assortment. In an excessively passive star house, this is often known as a Trombe wall. Of the various advantages of adobe construction, we also find the following.


Thermal insulation

Adobe and tapial is a good thermal insulator in apparent adobe houses. The interior of a house built with this material will not require the use of air conditioning systems. The adobe houses built with mud are cool in summer and warm in winter. Easily obtaining a pleasant thermal comfort.


Sound insulation

Adobe and Tapial are also very good sound insulators. Adobe houses built with raw earth are more insulated from outside noise and are quieter. Their irregular surface disperses the noise produced from the interior. This favors a quieter and more pleasant interior.


Low environmental impact

Less energy is used to manufacture and process adobe or to form walls. Adobe and tapial can be made by hand and left to dry in the sun.



It is known that the strength of these materials is very low compared to other materials such as brick. However, a properly constructed adobe and tapial building can easily exceed 100 years of life. It can easily exceed 100 years of useful life in good conditions.


Disadvantages of an adobe house

In addition to numerous benefits, adobe houses have lost their personal magnetism over the years as a result of increased care and maintenance. Since structures created with mud or clay are notoriously prone to deterioration.


Another major disadvantage of adobe houses in Mexico is the high price of labor and the lack of complete professionals that influence the construction techniques of an adobe house.


In general, adobe houses are not earthquake resistant and will be terribly inexperienced, especially if you start with a straw house for the structure and cover it with clay and earth. This will certainly be a do-it-yourself project for those with a little home improvement experience.


Modern adobe houses

Modern adobe house construction, are houses that are built with natural materials such as clay, sand, mud and water.


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