Materials and Methods

New Frameworks Natural Building excels in the integration of natural building materials and systems into the building in a seamless and harmonious fashion.  Some of these specialty materials and methods of building include:

High-Performance Construction

We are unique amongst both green and natural building companies in our ability to combine the beauty of natural building materials and the quality of high-performance construction detailing.  We target areas ofthe building in greatest need of attention – such as transitions between different parts of the building – and execute quality detailing to
ensure thermal performance and moisture durability.  This leaves a building that is long-lasting, inexpensive to operate, provides
occupants with healthier indoor air, and leaves a lighter footprint on the planet.

Native Lumber and Innovative Framing Techniques

Conventional framing practices are both wasteful in materials, negatively affect thermal performance of the building envelope, and are frequently constructed of industrialized wood products from remote regions of the country.  We are fortunate to live and work in a region that has a wealth of timber resources and a viable wood products industry.  Accordingly, we make a point of working with local foresters, loggers, and sawmills to support our local land-based economy, keep our forests healthy and productive, and minimize the ecological impact of our buildings.  Additionally, we build framing systems that cut excess waste from construction, while maximizing the amount and efficacy of the insulation of the building’s walls and roof, such as double-stud construction and advanced framing technique.

Straw Bale Wall Systems

New Frameworks prides itself on building some of the tightest, cleanest, most plumb straw bale walls around. We focus on revealing the beauty and unique softness of bale walls along with clean lines. The entire process begins with the framing.  Stacking the bales is followed by a thorough protocol of quality control and plaster preparation.  The straw bale walls are best finished with natural plasters (see below): that is, plasters made of clay, sand, chopped straw, and lime. These finishes have distinct advantages over cement stucco, of particular note in our climate in how they manage moisture in the wall assembly. 

Wood-Chip-Clay Wall Systems

Wood-chip-clay is a flexible form of insulation that bears many similarities to straw-clay wall systems, below.  Bark-less wood chips – frequently sourced from the property or from nearby wood-processing operations – are mixed with clay slip (clay suspended in water to the consistency of a milkshake) in batches. The mix is then poured into stud wall or other framed cavities faced with wood lathe. Wood-chip-clay wall systems can be finished with natural plasters, wood boards, or (on the interior) any sort of ecological wallboard.

Straw-Clay Wall Systems

Straw-clay, like wood-chip-clay, is a loose mixture that is tamped into existing framed wall cavities.  An ancient building technique, straw-clay has been used to insulate buildings for over a thousand years.  No lath or caging is needed for a firmly-installed panel of straw-clay, and these walls receive natural plasters beautifully.  Sometimes called “the natural builder’s minimum-expansion foam”, straw-clay is used throughout many parts of a natural building envelope wherever a flexible form of partially-self-supporting insulation is needed to fill a gap.

Cellulose Insulation

We rely on cellulose insulation to provide moisture-durable, pest-repellant, cavity-filling, air-movement-retarding, ecologically-sound insulation in areas such as cathedral ceilings, attics, and wall-cavities – particularly those that require a quick, dry installation.  We use only 100% borate-treated cellulose, and avoid the use of ammonia-based flame retardants in our building materials.  Cellulose is a terrific insulation for retrofit and renovation projects.

Clay/lime plasters

New Frameworks custom-makes plasters using clay, sand, lime, straw and pigments to cover and beautify wall systems of all types. For natural wall systems (bales, wood chips, cob) we mix plasters to create a skin that is permeable to vapor in a controlled fashion. The plaster recipes we use encourage moisture to dry to the outside (in our northern climate), and provide a safe buffer for more sensitive parts of the wall assembly. We also mix plasters for conventional wall systems (such as drywall or masonry) to give your space a softer and more textural feel. 

Natural Paints

New Frameworks Natural Building custom-makes non-toxic casein paint (milk- and lime-based), lime washes, and alises (clay paint) using clay, mineral powder, and pigments. Using mineral-based pigments such as oxides and ochres, we have a huge palette of colors ranging from soft whites and yellows/golds, to deep reds, to vibrant blues and greens. We also add special ingredients such as mica, linseed oil or wheat paste to make the paints sparkle, last longer, and have texture, to suit your particular application.

Natural pigments

We at New Frameworks use naturally-occurring mineral-based pigments to color our plasters and paints. A rainbow of colors are available: purples, blues, greens, yellows, oranges, reds, and browns. We prioritize using pigments that are free from carcinogenic or otherwise substantially harmful to human health, such as cobalt and chromium.

Adobe floors

Adobe, a well-known building material in the Southwestern United States and Mexico, is a combination of sand, straw and clay. We use it similarly to cement, to make adobe floors. We pour and trowel these ingredients to make a soft and smooth floor that carry the rich colors of earth. We sometimes add lime, chopped straw or manure to increase strength, reduce cracking and act as a binder when the floor dries. Adobe floors are a beautiful, ecological alternative to poured cement slabs in certain applications, and work in wonderful combination with radiant floor heating.

Tile and Stone floors

Using tiles and stones (often local slate, granite or river stone) we install beautiful, durable and creative floors. Tile and stone, as with adobe, work wonderfully with radiant floor heating, or as hearths for wood stoves, masonry stoves, or fireplaces. Masonry materials like stone and tile add mass to a building, which helps to moderate temperature in a well-insulated building, storing and radiating heat in the winter and keep conditions cool in the summer.  Installations can be functional and simple; or creative and complex. We install everything from entryways, hearths, and living room floors to showerpans, backsplashes, and decorative accents in walls.