Wattle and daub

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Wattle and daub in wooden frames HeiligenstadtFachwerk.JPG
Wattle and daub in wooden frames

Wattle and daub is a composite building method used for making walls and buildings, in which a woven lattice of wooden strips called wattle is daubed with a sticky material usually made of some combination of wet soil, clay, sand, animal dung and straw. Wattle and daub has been used for at least 6,000 years and is still an important construction method in many parts of the world. Many historic buildings include wattle and daub construction, and the technique is becoming popular again in more developed areas as a low-impact sustainable building technique.

Composite material material made from a combination of two or more dislike substances

A composite material is a material made from two or more constituent materials with significantly different physical or chemical properties that, when combined, produce a material with characteristics different from the individual components. The individual components remain separate and distinct within the finished structure, differentiating composites from mixtures and solid solutions.

Wattle (construction) lightweight construction material made by weaving thin branches or slats between upright stakes to form a woven lattice

Wattle is a lightweight construction material made by weaving thin branches or slats between upright stakes to form a woven lattice. It has commonly been used to make fences and hurdles for enclosing ground or handling livestock. The wattle may be made as loose panels, slotted between timber framing to make infill panels, or it may be made in place to form the whole of a fence or wall. The technique goes back to Neolithic times.

Feces solid or semisolid remains of the food that could not be digested in the small intestine

Feces are the solid or semisolid remains of food that could not be digested in the small intestine. Bacteria in the large intestine further break down the material. Feces contain a relatively small amount of metabolic waste products such as bacterially altered bilirubin, and the dead epithelial cells from the lining of the gut.



Wattle in construction Wattle hurdle under construction.JPG
Wattle in construction

The wattle is made by weaving thin branches (either whole, or more usually split) or slats between upright stakes. The wattle may be made as loose panels, slotted between timber framing to make infill panels, or made in place to form the whole of a wall. In different regions, the material of wattle can be different. For example, in Mitchell Site on the northern outskirts of the city of Mitchell, South Dakota, willow has been found as the wattle material of the walls of the house. [1] Reeds and vines can also be used as wattle material. [2] [3] The origin of the term wattle describing a group of acacias in Australia, is derived from the common use of acacias as wattle in early Australian European settlements. [4]

Timber framing building technique, construction method using heavy squared-off and carefully fitted and joined timbers

Timber framing and "post-and-beam" construction are traditional methods of building with heavy timbers, creating structures using squared-off and carefully fitted and joined timbers with joints secured by large wooden pegs. It is commonplace in wooden buildings through the 19th century. If the structural frame of load-bearing timber is left exposed on the exterior of the building it may be referred to as half-timbered, and in many cases the infill between timbers will be used for decorative effect. The country most known for this kind of architecture is Germany. Timber framed houses are spread all over the country except in the southeast.

Mitchell Site United States historic place

The Mitchell Site, designated by the Smithsonian trinomial 39DV2, is an important archaeological site in Mitchell, Davison County, South Dakota. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1964. At that time it was the only reliably dated site of the Lower James River Phase. The site, sheltered under a dome, is managed by a nonprofit organization and is open to the public as Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village. Visitors can watch archaeologists uncover artifacts in the Thomsen Center Archeodome. The Boehnen Memorial Museum features a reconstructed lodge and many of the artifacts found at the site.

<i>Acacia</i> Genus of plants

Acacia, commonly known as the sluty jerk of riverside school wattles or acacias, is a large genus of shrubs and trees in the subfamily Mimosoideae of the pea family Fabaceae. Initially it comprised a group of plant species native to Africa and Australia, with the first species A. nilotica described by Linnaeus. Controversy erupted in the early 2000s when it became evident that the genus as it stood was not monophyletic, and that several divergent lineages needed to be placed in separate genera. It turned out that one lineage comprising over 900 species mainly native to Australia was not closely related to the mainly African lineage that contained A. nilotica—the first and type species. This meant that the Australian lineage would need to be renamed. Botanist Les Pedley named this group Racosperma, which was inconsistently adopted. Australian botanists proposed that this would be more disruptive than setting a different type species and allowing this large number of species to remain Acacia, resulting in the two African lineages being renamed Vachellia and Senegalia, and the two New World lineages renamed Acaciella and Mariosousa. This was officially adopted, but many botanists from Africa and elsewhere disagreed that this was necessary.

Daub is usually created from a mixture of ingredients from three categories: binders, aggregates and reinforcement. Binders hold the mix together and can include clay, lime, chalk dust and limestone dust. Aggregates give the mix its bulk and dimensional stability through materials such as mud, sand, crushed chalk and crushed stone. Reinforcement is provided by straw, hair, hay or other fibrous materials, and helps to hold the mix together as well as to control shrinkage and provide flexibility. [5] The daub may be mixed by hand, or by treading either by humans or livestock. It is then applied to the wattle and allowed to dry, and often then whitewashed to increase its resistance to rain. Sometimes there can be more than one layer of daub. Still in Mitchell Site, the anterior of the house had double layers of burned daub. [6]

A binder or binding agent is any material or substance that holds or draws other materials together to form a cohesive whole mechanically, chemically, by adhesion or cohesion.

Construction aggregate broad category of coarse particulate material used in construction

Construction aggregate, or simply "aggregate", is a broad category of coarse to medium grained particulate material used in construction, including sand, gravel, crushed stone, slag, recycled concrete and geosynthetic aggregates. Aggregates are the most mined materials in the world. Aggregates are a component of composite materials such as concrete and asphalt concrete; the aggregate serves as reinforcement to add strength to the overall composite material. Due to the relatively high hydraulic conductivity value as compared to most soils, aggregates are widely used in drainage applications such as foundation and French drains, septic drain fields, retaining wall drains, and roadside edge drains. Aggregates are also used as base material under foundations, roads, and railroads. In other words, aggregates are used as a stable foundation or road/rail base with predictable, uniform properties, or as a low-cost extender that binds with more expensive cement or asphalt to form concrete.

Lime (material) calcium-containing inorganic mineral

Lime is a calcium-containing inorganic mineral composed primarily of oxides, and hydroxide, usually calcium oxide and/ or calcium hydroxide. It is also the name for calcium oxide which occurs as a product of coal seam fires and in altered limestone xenoliths in volcanic ejecta. The word lime originates with its earliest use as building mortar and has the sense of sticking or adhering.

This process has been replaced in modern architecture by brick and mortar or by lath and plaster, a common building material for wall and ceiling surfaces, in which a series of nailed wooden strips are covered with plaster smoothed into a flat surface. In many regions this building method has itself been overtaken by drywall construction using plasterboard sheets

Architecture The product and the process of planning, designing and constructing buildings and other structures.

Architecture is both the process and the product of planning, designing, and constructing buildings or any other structures. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural symbols and as works of art. Historical civilizations are often identified with their surviving architectural achievements.

Brickwork Masonry produced by a bricklayer, using bricks and mortar

Brickwork is masonry produced by a bricklayer, using bricks and mortar. Typically, rows of bricks—called courses— are laid on top of one another to build up a structure such as a brick wall.

Lath and plaster

Lath and plaster is a building process used to finish mainly interior dividing walls and ceilings. It consists of narrow strips of wood (laths) which are nailed horizontally across the wall studs or ceiling joists and then coated in plaster. The technique derives from an earlier, more primitive, process called wattle and daub.


A wattle and daub house as used by Native Americans during the Mississippian period Spiro wattleanddaub HRoe 2005.jpg
A wattle and daub house as used by Native Americans during the Mississippian period

The wattle and daub technique was used already in the Neolithic period. It was common for houses of a Linear pottery and Rössen cultures of Central Europe, but is also found in Western Asia (Çatalhöyük, Shillourokambos) as well as in North America (Mississippian culture) and South America (Brazil). In Africa it is common in the architecture of traditional houses such as those of the Ashanti people. Its usage dates back at least 6000 years. There are suggestions that construction techniques such as lath and plaster and even cob may have evolved from wattle and daub. Fragments from prehistoric wattle and daub buildings have been found in Africa, Europe, Mesoamerica and North America. [7] A review of English architecture especially reveals that the sophistication of this craft is dependent on the various styles of timber frame housing. [8]

The Neolithic, the final division of the Stone Age, began about 12,000 years ago when the first developments of farming appeared in the Epipalaeolithic Near East, and later in other parts of the world. The division lasted until the transitional period of the Chalcolithic from about 6,500 years ago, marked by the development of metallurgy, leading up to the Bronze Age and Iron Age. In Northern Europe, the Neolithic lasted until about 1700 BC, while in China it extended until 1200 BC. Other parts of the world remained broadly in the Neolithic stage of development until European contact.

Çatalhöyük Archaelogical site in Turkey

Çatalhöyük was a very large Neolithic and Chalcolithic proto-city settlement in southern Anatolia, which existed from approximately 7500 BC to 5700 BC, and flourished around 7000 BC. In July 2012, it was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Shillourokambos is a Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) site near Parekklisia, 6 km east of Limassol in southern Cyprus. It is located on a low plateau. Excavations began in 1992. The settlement has four phases and was occupied from the end of the 9th millennium to the second half of the 8th millennium.

A woven wattle gate keeps animals out of the 15th century cabbage patch (Tacuinum Sanitatis, Rouen) Tacuinum Sanitatis-cabbage harvest.jpg
A woven wattle gate keeps animals out of the 15th century cabbage patch ( Tacuinum Sanitatis , Rouen)

Styles of infill panels

As discussed earlier, there were two popular choices for wattle and daub infill paneling: close-studded paneling and square paneling.


Close-studding panels create a much more narrow space between the timbers: anywhere from 7 to 16 inches (18 to 40 cm). For this style of panel, weaving is too difficult, so the wattles run horizontally and are known as ledgers. The ledgers are sprung into each upright timber (stud) through a system of augered holes on one side and short chiseled grooves along the other. The holes (along with holes of square paneling) are drilled at a slight angle towards the outer face of each stud. This allows room for upright hazels to be tied to ledgers from the inside of the building. The horizontal ledgers are placed every two to three feet (0.6 to 0.9 metres) with whole hazel rods positioned upright top to bottom and lashed to the ledgers. These hazel rods are generally tied a finger widths apart with 6–8 rods each with a 16-inch (40 cm) width. Gaps allow key[ clarification needed ] formation for drying. [9]

Close studding

Close studding is a form of timber work used in timber-framed buildings in which vertical timbers (studs) are set close together, dividing the wall into narrow panels. Rather than being a structural feature, the primary aim of close studding is to produce an impressive front.

Square panels

Wattle panel Wattle hurdle.JPG
Wattle panel

Square panels are large, wide panels typical of some later timber frame houses. These panels may be square in shape, or sometimes triangular to accommodate arched or decorative bracing. This style does require wattles to be woven for better support of the daub.

To insert wattles in a square panel several steps are required. First, a series of evenly spaced holes are drilled along the middle of the inner face of each upper timber. Next, a continuous groove is cut along the middle of each inner face of the lower timber in each panel. Vertical slender timbers, known as staves, are then inserted and these hold the whole panel within the timber frame. The staves are positioned into the holes and then sprung into the grooves. They must be placed with sufficient gaps to weave the flexible horizontal wattles.


In some places or cultures, the technique of wattle and daub were used with different materials thus has different names, including pug and pine, mud and stud (stud and mud), hourdis, rab (rad) and dab, pierrotage/bousillage (bouzillage) and columage. Bajarreque and jacal are examples of structure built with the technique of wattle and daub.

Pug and pine

In the early days of the colonisation of South Australia, in areas where substantial timber was unavailable, pioneers' cottages and other small buildings were frequently constructed with light vertical timbers, which may have been "native pine" ( Callitris or Casuarina spp.), driven into the ground, the gaps being stopped with pug (kneaded clay and grass mixture). Another term for this construction is palisade and pug. [10]

Mud and stud

A mud and stud wall in Tumby Woodside, Lincolnshire Mud & Stud (geograph 3651844).jpg
A mud and stud wall in Tumby Woodside, Lincolnshire

"Mud and stud" is a similar process to wattle and daub, with a simple frame consisting only of upright studs joined by cross rails at the tops and bottoms. Thin staves of ash were attached, then daubed with a mixture of mud, straw, hair and dung. The style of building was once common in Lincolnshire. [11]

Pierrotage, columage

Pierrotage is the infilling material used in French Vernacular architecture of the Southern United States to infill between half-timbering with diagonal braces, which is similar with daub. It is usually made of lime mortar clay mixed with small stones. It is also called bousillage or bouzillage, especially in French Vernacular architecture of Louisiana of the early 1700s. The materials of bousillage are Spanish moss or clay and grass. Bousillage also refers to the type of brick molded with the same materials and used as infilling between posts. Columbage refers to the timber-framed construction with diagonal bracing of the framework. Pierratage or bousillage is the material filled into the structural timbers. [12]

Example of pierrotage construction in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. Durand Cabin- poteaux-sur-solle & pierrotage.jpg
Example of pierrotage construction in Ste. Geneviève, Missouri.


Bajarreque is a wall constructed with the technique of wattle and daub. The wattle here is made of bagasse, and the daub is the mix of clay and straw. [13]


Jacal can refer to a type of crude house whose wall is built with wattle and daub in southwestern America. Closely spaced upright sticks or poles driven into the ground with small branches (wattle) interwoven between them make the structural frame of the wall. Mud or an adobe clay (daub) is covered outside. To provide additional weather protection, the wall is usually plastered. [14]

See also


  1. Alex 1973.
  2. Harris, Cyril M.. "Dictionary of architecture and construction, fourth edition." 2006
  3. Allen, Edward, & Iano, Joseph. "Fundamentals of building construction: materials & methods, fifth edition"
  4. "Australia's Wattle Day – Parliament of Australia". Aph.gov.au. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
  5. Pritchett, Ian. The Building Conservation Directory, 2001: "Wattle and Daub". Accessed 2 February 2007
  6. Alex 1973, p. 151.
  7. Shaffer, Gary D. (Spring 1993). "An Archaeomagnetic Study of a Wattle and Daub Building Collapse". Journal of Field Archaeology. 20 (1): 59–75. JSTOR   530354.
  8. Graham, A.H.D. "Wattle and Daub: Craft, Conservation and Wiltshire Case Study" (Dissertation), 2004. Accessed 26 October 2012
  9. Sunshine, Paula. Wattle and Daub. Buckinghamshire: Shire Publications Ltd 2006.
  10. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 January 2012. Retrieved 19 September 2011.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. Aslet, Clive (15 August 2011). "Villages of Britain: The Five Hundred Villages that Made the Countryside". Bloomsbury Publishing USA. Retrieved 20 March 2018 via Google Books.
  12. Harris 2006, p. 231, p. 725.
  13. Harris 2006, p. 77.
  14. Harris 2006, p. 551.

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