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Tire Work | Pangea Builders

Structural, Bearing and Retaining Walls made with rammed earth encased in recycled steel-belted rubber tires.

Very strong, Economical, Local, Sustainable.

The major structural building component is recycled automobile tires filled with compacted earth to form a rammed earth brick encased in steel belted rubber. This brick and the resulting bearing walls it forms is virtually indestructible.

Tire Pounding Tire Walls

The tire is used as found without any modification. The process of ramming them full of densely packed earth is achieved with simple human labor and can be done with whatever type of earth is available on the building site.

Common people of all shapes and sizes can easily learn to gather tires and pack them full of earth with simple hand tools and with the same type of human energy used while trying to tone up their bodies in the local gym.

The impact of large scale use of this idea would result in depletion of the giant tire mountains that have become a serious problem in many cities. This building block is therefore achieved with little additional energy.

Thermal Mass 

There are few materials of any kind that would provide better, more dense mass for storing

temperature than rammed earth. The rubber tire casings provide a natural form for humanly manageable production of thermal mass building blocks with little more than human energy. There are also very few materials that would provide the structural bearing capacities and homogeneous qualities of an earth rammed tire wall. The diameter of the tires (2’-4″) sets the thickness for the walls of the building. This amount of dense mass surrounding every room provides a thermal battery that helps to keep the building comfortable with no fossil fuels.


The durability of tires filled with earth can not be surpassed. A buried tire (which is in effect

what we have in a tire wall) will virtually last forever. The only thing that deteriorates rubber tires is sunlight or fire. Since they are filled with earth and ultimately covered with earth and concrete plastered over, they never see sunlight. Tires only burn when surrounded by air. When they are filled and coated with earth and concrete plaster, trying to get them to burn would be like trying to light a phonebook on fire as compared to a wad of paper. The very qualities of tires that makes them a problem to society (the fact that they won’t go away) makes them an ideal durable building material. Earth and tires by virtue of their very nature will last forever.


Whereas a rammed earth tire wall is amazingly strong, it is obviously not brittle. It can vibrate or move without fracture or failure. Since these walls are so wide and the loading on them is widely distributed, the entire structure would have the potential of absorbing and moving with a considerable horizontal shock from an earthquake. There is probably no other material available at any price that has the reliance that earth rammed tires would have.

Low specific skill requirements 

Over the past 40 years many people of all shapes and sizes have been taught to “pound tires” (the term used for the process of densely packing the tires with earth). Within one or two hours the average human can be an expert.  It requires physical energy more than brute strength.

A team of two people, one shoveling and one pounding, can pound about four tires an hour. The shoveling job is easiest while the pounding requires a little more strength and energy. The general application of common human capabilities is definitely all that is required here. This is a skill that the very lowest people on the labor force can become good at.

Low tech 

The only real major piece of equipment needed  to build a tire building is a backhoe. This is a common piece of equipment needed for all buildings of any type. Backhoes and operators  rent almost anywhere for 30 to 50 dollars per  hour. Other typical tools needed are a chain saw, circular saw, and a cement mixer. Common people use these tools all the time and they are  very easily accessible to all.

Setup: Start properly & double check everything.

  • Place the first course of tires, they should sit level at the beginning when they are not pounded. The general construction site should be relatively level.
  • With a Builder’s Level, ‘shoot-in’ the ground where the empty tires are sitting and the empty tires themselves. Make sure the ground where the tires are sitting on is relatively level all over.
  • If you have a lot of people on site, you can work the entire course. Split up into groups with good spacing so swinging tools does not hit anyone.
  • A tire size of 235-R75-15 is ideal for the first two courses. You may also use 235-R75-16s for the first few courses instead and preferred.
  • Cut pieces of 6 mil plastic 3’ x 6’ and fold in half so you have a 3’ x 3’ double thickness piece. Place the cut and folded piece of plastic in each tire for the FIRST course. This is important in moist climates. Cardboard goes into the rest of the tire courses before dirt.
  • Each tire must touch the tire next to it and be in line with and level with the rest of the tires when the tire is complete.
  • Pound the first course of tires and define your building. Pound tires hard and tight to eliminate the potential of settling.
  • As you pound the tires, identify a ‘bench mark tire’.   This tire will be used to level all others tires, so it must be perfect and marked.
  • When you have tires pounded on both ends of the building, shoot them in with a builder’s level to be level with the bench mark tire. Level tires at either end of the building with each other and the bench mark tire. This is an important measurement to do on every course in a few different places.  Making sure the tire courses go up level is very important to the structure and upcoming details of the building.
  • The first course of tires takes the most amount of time and requires proper placement.   All other courses of tires, the rest of the tire walls, will be defined by the first course.
  • Double check all of your measurements when the first course of tires is complete.  Make sure the building is the correct size and all tires are level.
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