Bottling It Up – Building Bottle Walls
Last year we published a series of articles about one of the mainstays of the construction industry – the humble brick, without which the building trade wouldn’t exist. For those who are interested, we covered the following topics:
We recently came across some information about using glass “bricks” – empty bottles that creative DIY-ers are using to add unusual decorative elements to their homes. The internet allows us to reach out and communicate with people around the world in a way which has never before been possible and this has led to an avalanche of information being shared as people publish descriptions and photos of their craft and DIY activities. Crafting and making is enjoying a massive revival right now as people strive to enhance their homes to reflect their personalities and preferences. If we want to find out how to do something nowadays, we tend to Google it or YouTube it.
Building a Bottle Wall is becoming increasingly popular as it makes for a fabulous and unusual feature on any home. Coloured glass bottles are included in concrete walls, allowing the light to shine through the bottles, giving a stained glass effect that can be truly magical. One of our team members has relatives in Greece who recently undertook a bottle wall project and are kindly allowing us to use their photos.
The process looks interesting and enjoyable. First, drink lots of wine – seriously, you’re going to need a lot of bottles, preferably in different colours and the best way to get them (without becoming an alcoholic) is to ask family, friends and neighbours to keep glass bottles for you. The more different colours you collect, the more colourful your wall will be. Clear bottles work, as do brown and green, but the jewel in the crown when it comes to coloured bottles are the elusive blue ones.
When you have enough bottles, they need to be made into “bottle bricks” by cutting off the tops of them with a tile cutting wheel. Each brick is made of two half bottles taped together with gaffer tape – the sizes you’ll need will be determined by the width of the wall you’re building. If the wall is a foot wide, you need two 6-inch bottle bottoms taped together.
Once you have enough bottle bricks, it’s time to start building. First you need to dig a foundation trench and fill it with rubble or gravel to add stability to the wall. The binding mixture is a typical mortar mix of 3:1 mason sand to a pozzalan cement mix. Other mixes that can be used are mortar and clay, adobe, cob, sand or cement. Bottle walls are very versatile and can be bonded with just about anything that can endure the climate.
Duct taping the two half bottles together creates a window effect, allowing light (from outside during the day and from inside during the night) to shine through, creating a fabulous stained glass effect. The trapped air inside the bottles creates a small amount of insulation. There are full instructions on how to build a bottle wall on several websites online if you Google it, but as a quick starter, here’s a YouTube video that shows the process: