Frequently asked questions

There is no difference. The two terms are used interchangeably to mean earth that has been compressed to make a building material.

Compressed earth blocks and bricks are the material of choice in many cases:

Green housing:
Used to build environmentally friendly houses, compressed earth blocks can make walls with high thermal inertia, radiant walls, and can be added to straw bale and wood houses which are good insulators, but have low inertia. The low carbon footprint of compressed earth blocks create the ultimate environmentally friendly material. The soil to make the bricks is removed from the construction site, no baking, infinitely recyclable …)

Compressed earth bricks may be used for many types of construction: detached houses, garages, workshops, garden sheds, etc …

DIY home building:
The MecoPress, our compressed earth block machine, is easy to use and a good tool for DIY home building. It’s so easy to use, it’s child’s play!

International aid:
Compressed earth bricks meet many requirements for reconstruction of areas devastated by human or natural disasters (eg Haiti, Libya)
MecoConcept’s compressed earth brick press is extremely suitable for developing countries:
– Ease of implementation (Quick system, no training, no specific qualification required)
– Ease of maintenance (no tools, easy to transport …)
– Logistics: light and portable, the MecoPress can fit into a small pick-up.




Yes. When pressed at 30 tonnes, compressed earth bricks create a natural building material that is very dense which prevents water seeping into the center of the brick. In case of rain, only a surface layer of the brick becomes wet and the mechanical qualities will not be altered. We must of course avoid subjecting them to direct exposure to rain and water. For example, by installing an overhanging roof and protecting the walls at the foundation.

Compressed earth blocks require a soil that is 20-30% clay. All clays do not behave the same way (reactivity, mechanical strength, …). The quality of the brick needs to be studied on a case by case basis by conducting laboratory tests. However, most soils are capable of being compressed, the quality of bricks depend on the quality of the soil. The simplest test is to look around to see if there are traditional earth buildings in the area where you want to build. If there is, this is a good indication that the soil can be compressed.

Earth is the oldest building material in the world. The oldest compressed earth blocks were found in ancient Mesopotamia dating back to 10,000 BC, the oldest existing earth building dates back 900 years (Taos Pueblo in New Mexico, USA).
There are centuries-old structures made with earth, the most famous is undoubtedly the Great Wall of China. Another well-known example is Chan Chan, Peru, a set of 12 700 year old palaces. There are also many earth buildings in France which are many centuries old.

One can also note the Aztec pyramids and the Moroccan Kasbahs.

Soil (clay + silt + sand), water, and optionally a binder such as lime or cement to increase strength.

One can consider introducing a very small amount of fiber (hemp or another, provided that the fibers are very thin) to act as a drain and remove moisture more efficiently.

Clay holds together the material, forming layers like in a lasagna. When pressing the brick, microscopic forces interact lending itself to a very hard dried clay.

A binder makes a brick more stable, especially with regards to shrinkage and/or swelling due to moisture. If a soil has a clay too reactive, the addition of lime or cement to prevent the brick from cracking during drying and the dimensional stability of the latter allow mounting right out of treatment (during which we put a brick under tarps to slow the drying and increase interaction between the binder and clay). In addition, these chemical reactions increase the mechanical strength of the brick.

The density of a compressed earth block is from 1.8 to 2 kg/dm³. (= Kg / liter = T / m³)

Depending on the nature of the soil and the mixture used. A resistance up to > 3 MPa can be achieved. Also, adding 5% of lime multiplies mechanical resistance by 1.5.

Contrary to popular belief, the earth is not an insulating material. However, it has excellent thermal inertia which regulates the temperature inside a home. Your home will be cool in summer and warm in the winter.

Average value: 1000KJ/m³/K:

This means for heating (or cooling) one Kelvin degree in m³ of a brick, you must bring (or recover) 1000kJ: it is the energy produced by a 1kW heater for half an hour.

Note: 1m ³ of a MecoBriq = 5m ² of a wall

Yes, earth is considered very good sound insulation.

Our patented compression system allows for an almost infinite multiplication of the force of the cylinder. We can consider, however, that the force developed in the last millimeter of compression of the brick is 30 tons. A compression of 60kg / cm ² for a 27×18 cm brick surface (our standard).

You can make many forms of lintels. Lintels can be made of compressed earth, wood, etc… Your architect can advise you on the best way to make the openings.

The mass of the wall is enough to give excellent stability without mortar. Mortar is not used to enhance the stability of the wall, but to make up the differences in height and fill the gaps between the bricks so they are more airtight. The choice of mortar with a clay slip depends upon the position and role of the wall in the house. For load-bearing walls, it is preferable to use a light mortar, on at least on the first and last rows of the wall.

Insulation must be inside and outside and several types are possible. For use with compressed earth bricks only, it is possible to make two rows of bricks, spaced 10 cm apart or you can use hemp, straw, etc…

The inner wall is used as thermal mass, the exterior is just structural, it can be covered with an insulating coating type such as lime/hemp to protect the outisde of the house. Or, you can use a single thickness of brick lined with wood fibreboard, cork, etc…
In any case, it is not necessary to have an insulating layer between the wall of compressed earth bricks and the house’s interior.

It is necessary to insulate the foundation wall near the floor. This can be conventional (concrete L), as well as a stone bed. The stones removed from the soil to make the bricks can be used for this purpose. For the foundation, the same materials can be used. If you want to avoid using concrete, you can use a placed foundation as long as it is thick enough. To do this, layer crushed or rolled stone or rolled to a thickness of around 25 cm and line this with layers of insulators and soil, covered with terracotta tiles.

We have many different molds that can be used for a variety of projects. Please contact us for more infomation.

The MecoPress has a production capacity of 120 bricks per hour (or 4m ² in size 36x18x10), however, the production capacity is limited to operator fatigue. One can reasonably estimate a production of 30 bricks per hour per operator.

Please contact us for prices.

At this time, the MecoPress is available for rent only in France and Corsica.