Earthships and Tire Wall Construction

Earthships and Tire Wall Construction2018-09-12T02:41:02+00:00

Project Description

Welcome to Pangea Builders School.

Our intention of this course is to teach you all about how to pound tires and build tire walls and build structures made of tire walls.

What will this course bring you?

  • Understand how bricks and walls made of rammed earth encased  steel belted rubber works and how it is extremely structurally sound.
  • Know how to custom-design this tire-wall system for different kinds of applications.
  • Know how, and possibly be able to build tire walls and structures made of tire walls.


Pounding Tires

Tire walls are made by laying tires in staggered courses like bricks or concrete blocks. Each tire is filled with compacted earth, so that it becomes a rammed earth brick encased in steel belted rubber, about 95% compacted.

A pounded tire weighs over 300 pounds, therefore, all tires are pounded in place and are NOT moved after the tire is fully pounded and leveled.

The tires are set on leveled undisturbed ground and pounded in place using a sledge hammer. Each tire takes about three or four wheel-barrows of dirt. The tires are pounded level in all directions.

Scrap cardboard or empty cement bags are used to fill in the holes in the tires and make them temporarily contain the earth on all courses other than the first course which is flat on the ground and plastic is used. The first course gets a double layer of 6 mil plastic in the bottom of each tire. Since both sides of the tire wall will eventually be buried or covered by plaster, the cardboard could decompose without affecting the rammed- earth.

Tire Building Code

Important: If any building concept is used but not executed competently with appropriate respect for and understanding of the nature of the material, an unsafe building can be the result. This is true of any building technique. This is why we have building inspectors. These building inspectors have a code (the Uniform Building Code – UBC) to follow.

This code provides criteria for an inspector to relate to in determining whether a particular building technique is being executed safely or not.

The purpose of a Tire Wall building code for bearing and retaining walls made from rammed earth encased in steel-belted rubber tires is to provide that same kind of criteria for an inspector to relate to in determining whether a tire building is being executed safely or not.

Any building technique can be executed in a competent manner or an incompetent manner. Tire bearing walls and peripheral details are no exception. The Tire Wall building code is aimed at both the inspector and the builders as a clear simple presentation of tire construction standards (“Do’s and Don’ts) that must be followed to insure a successful, safe, comfortable and structurally sound building.

A thorough presentation of the standards for bearing and retaining walls made with rammed earth encased in steel-belted rubber will be used as a guide to those whose job it is to inspect tire buildings for structural integrity, safety and quality.


  • Building Layout
  • The Pythagorean Theorem
  • Orientation
  • Tire Work
  • Setup: Start properly & double check everything.
  • Pounding Tires
  • Tire Pounding Details
  • Tire Building Code
  • Retaining Walls
  • Harvesting Tires
  • Can & Bottle Work
  • Can Walls
  • Bottle Walls
  • How to Make Bottle Bricks
  • Concrete Mix for CN & Bottle Walls
  • How to build can & bottle walls
  • Plastering Can/Bottle Walls
  • Harvesting Cans & Bottles
  • Buttresses
  • Buttress Footings
  • Forming the buttress
  • Footings
  • Interior Footings
  • Exterior Footings
  • Door and Window Boxes
  • Bottom Plates
  • Build and Place the Window Boxes
  • Top Plates
  • Harvesting recycled wood
  • Concrete Bond Beam
  • Place the Steel
  • Form for the Bond Beam
  • Pour the Bond Beam
  • Bond Beam Wood Plates
  • Vaulted Arches
  • Concrete Vaults – The Wave of the Future
  • Construction of Simple Barrel Vaults
  • Vapor Barriers
  • Permeance of building materials
  • Vapor Permeability of concrete
  • History of Green Buildings

Off-Grid Living Systems

Water, Power, Waste Water Treatment, Heating/Cooling

The systems of a building. These are the systems that go into the structural shell of the building for occupancy. Some or all of these systems can be used instead of the conventional methods to provide utilities to buildings. This can make the build more sustainable, secure and healthy than only using conventional utilities.

All systems can have automated conventional backups. All systems can be added to existing conventional buildings as a renovation project.

Living with sustainable off-grid systems enhances our lives, secures our lives and is a better investment than conventional buildings. This increases both psychological and physiological comfort.



From the sky (rain & snow melt). Use each drop four times. Fresh, Potable, Drinking Water.

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From the sun and the wind stored in batteries and supplied to your electrical outlets via a prepackaged power system.

Waste Water Treatment

Containment, treatment and distribution system for liquid waste water. This system is similar to the wetlands concept which has long been used in exterior applications for thousands of years by humans and nature. This system differs from the wetlands approach in that it treats and processes the untreated greywater inside the building and the liquid waste water from the toilet outside of the building.

Comfort: Heating & Cooling the Building

From only the sun and the earth. Maintain comfortable temperatures all year with no fossil fuels.


The security of self-sufficiency and the freedom that comes from living with offgrid sustainable systems.

10 Reasons to Live Off-Grid

1. Freedom from utility bills
Likely the first advantage that comes to mind when considering an off-grid lifestyle is eliminating utility expenses. Exploring alternatives for power, water, and sewer is a great way to reduce the cost of living.

2. Good stewards of the Earth’s resources
When we are responsible for our own resources we are more aware of where they come from and how much we are using. Eyes-wide-open awareness is the most effective way to bring true change in any area of life.

3. Security
When tied to the grid we are tied to more than just the electric company. There are so many variables that could cause us to be without power. We want to eliminate that risk as much as possible. Not just by creating our own electricity but learning to live without it too.

4. Freedom to choose your lifestyle
Living off grid gives you options. Maybe you want to live in a yurt with no amenities. How about an RV? A tiny house? You might want a big house with every convenience but on a property that is too far from the electric grid. These are all possibilities off grid.

5. Location, location, location
Being free from the electric grid means that you can position your house in the best or most beautiful place on your land no matter how far it is from the electric lines.

6. Living as producers instead of consumers
Our family has really enjoyed our garden and livestock so much! Learning how to grow, harvest and preserve our food feels incredible. We are looking to expand that into so many other aspects of our off-grid life.

7. Environmentally responsible
Learning how to use much less electricity, recycling gray water and having a composting toilet are great ways to reduce your carbon footprint and make off-grid living work.

8. Learn new skills
I am excited to learn more about solar, harvesting water, building from the ground up and living more in touch with our land.

9. The sense of accomplishment
This might be the thing we are most excited about, building our homestead from the ground up. To be able to really express who we are in every aspect of our lives then look back and see all that we have learned and accomplished.

10. Encourages a life unplugged
Living off-grid is a chosen departure from everyday modern life in some form or another. That departure causes change, even if it is as simple as hanging the laundry to dry instead of throwing it in the dryer. Many off-grid tasks connect us to nature and life outside of a screen. We plan on embracing that with open arms.

Going off grid is not the wonder-drug that will solve all of your troubles. There are many choices that can be made, no matter where you live, to reduce your carbon footprint. For our family, it is the combination of all of these reasons that inspire and compels us to work toward our dreams of building our off grid homestead.

Upcoming Pangea Builders School Sessions


FREE WORKSHOP! contact email: Systems - Solar power and start up, residential wiring, fixture installation and grid interconnection. - Solar hot water installation, plumbing,

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