• Layout Plan (from design)
  • Tyres – various sizes
  • Dirt – quality not too important. However, some ‘dirts’ are easier to work than others. Best not to use clay. Clay has a far more important role in rendering the walls after construction.
  • Use thick cardboard or cut used carpet. (to place in each tyre before loading with dirt)
  • Tools & fixings:
    • Guide string (string line)
    • Hammers – long handle
    • Stomper
    • Shovels
    • Wheel barrow (or tractor with front bucket)
    • Pallets (To build working platforms)
    • Reciprocating saw
    • Power drill with ‘hex’ head driver for tech screws
    • Tech screws – approx 30mm long – plenty
    • Fine steel mesh (optional – for filling irregular gaps between tyres)
  • An energetic crew


  • Follow the plan – layout the base row of tyres as per the construction drawings. Use the string line.

Depending on draining slopes and your design, you may need a plastic film barrier under the first (or second) layer of tyres.

  • Fill each tyre with dirt. Compact the dirt until the tyre loses its sponginess. (No cardboard or carpet is required in the first row. Check the layer is level, and each tyre is level with its ‘neighbors’.
  • Offset the next layer by ‘half a tyre’ – as if you were laying bricks. Lay out the tyres, insert cardboard or carpet and pack with dirt. (If design calls for locking tyres insert them and lock them with tech screws)
  • Paramount: Level each tyre and the whole wall and each level.
  • Once the tyres are two layers high, build an internal work platform (recommend used pallets), and fill the ‘outside’ compacting the earth (around each locking tyre if they are in the design.

NOTE: at this stage it will be necessary to insert the insulation barrier.

  • Fill the half ends as shown in the picture below.
  • Continue the layers until the walls are at the required height.
  • Move onto the next step of building the “bond beam”.

TYRE SIZES: The picture below is a guide only, as many combinations work.


Aligning,Pounding & Stomping Tyres

Tyres 8

Half tyres – completing an ‘end’.

Tyres 9

In-filling gaps (creating a half tyre)

Tyres 10

More detail can be seen in the following YouTube video:

Note: we will build our Thermal Mass Tyre walls a little differently from this as we will construct vertical walls and use locking tyres to prevent the walls from leaning. Other constructors may use internal concrete columns but these consume internal space.

Significant differences will include:

  • An internal working platform to make the build safe. This will be built from used pallets – see DIY section “used pallets”
  • The wall will be vertical – makes for easier second fix.
  • To facilitate vertical walls, we will have ‘locking tyres’ set into the berm (thermal mass) locking the wall in place.
  • The insulation will be fabricated by us – not purchased as in the case of the video.

As we build we will be filming the event to show exactly what we did and how we did it.

BETTER: to learn full details of these construction techniques, it is best that you attend an onsite course.

Courses are available in USA through Michael Reynolds EarthShip Academy, and South Australia at EarthShip IronBank, and at our own EarthShip Fleurieu.

 Courses are detailed in the Education Centre Menu above on this site. 

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