Is it possible to build a glass bottle wall that actually lets the light in?

I would like to incorporate my stash of glass bottles into a greenhouse, but all the articles I've seen so far call for the bottles to be filled with dirt when being used to construct a wall. What about using them upright instead of on their sides?

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mkind6 years ago
Okay Folks,

I aint no genius, but I will claim to be.

While I like the way gearhead1951 thinks (it was one of my original Ideas) I wanted to make them in 3'x3' forms with a stiff mortar have rebar set in the proposed top an bottom of these panels. instead of sawing the glass the idea was to fill the forms about 3"-4" with mortar and break the glass. these would them be tack welded on to poles that i would have set in place and fill in the spaces with motar when complete.

This Idea is grea for light penetration. I think this method is time consuming

I know when most think of glass bottles to make a wall we think of dark colored bottles that are pointed facing inward of the structure.

Enough of of being in the box.

These days we now have many different size bottles in three basic colors, green brown and lets say clear.

I have access to all three of these colors in 24 ounces size beer bottle. The bar I work at is a great place to gather these.

Now for the idea I am going to go with. Picture still with a stiff mortar. the glass bottles will be placed one of two way. standing vertical right side and upside down or sideways lengthwise with the wall. I even thought just now it may be possible to get creative with the pattern in which one would lay the bottles. My Idea does have rebar reinforsment in mind a door of course. and a one way slanted roof constructed with corregated plastic panels purchased at a home improvement store..

Im in the process of building a glass bottle wall too, and if this helps, maybe you can position your wall so that it is facing solar south so that in the winter months you have more of a chance that the walls will be illuminated for a longer period of the day, because of the sun being lower in the sky. In the movie Transformers 2, I'm pretty sure that Megan Fox is sitting up against a bottle wall toward the end of the movie.

check it out, and stay classy Planet Earth
megan fox and bottle walls.jpg
My one suggestion would be to angle the necks downwards to ensure more sun to come in
caarntedd7 years ago
Use them on their  side. Don't cut them in half. Don't fill them with dirt. Lay them bottom outwards. Use ordinary mortar as for bricklaying.

It will be strong, well insulated and let in plenty of light.
What he said.

Stack new rows in th hollows of the underlying rows, so that the bottle bottoms form hexagons (as opposed to the squares you'd get from stacking bottles directly on top of each other).

Not sure what you should do about the bottle's necks - mortaring them in would block a lot of the light. Maybe just have the necks stick out free off the inside wall, with maybe a temporary form (or permanent interior wall finish) to hold the mortar?

If you mant to get fancy, you might use brown bottles for the majority of the wall and save clear and/or green bottles for "windows" or decoratice borders & etc.

(Blue bottles, of course, you hang on a nearby tree so as to keep the haints away. :)
What she said.

Leave the necks open. Let them stick out inside.

Love the idea about use of different colours, but maybe not so much for a greenhouse.
Unless jigsawinc actually means GREEN house.
It would be amusing to use all green bottles and a green-tinted mortar to build a literally green house. :)

I was assuming that Jiggy was planning to include one or two true window wall, or at least plenty of skylights in the roof (the "glass bottle roofing" concept having yet to prove sucessful ;).

If not, using all clear-glass bottles would certainly help light transmission, but I'm not sure it'd be enough. If the mortar were as bright a white as possible, with lots of quartz and mica particles in the sand used to mix it, (that'd certainly be pretty as all get out, but) I'm still not sure it's be enough.
Burf7 years ago
Yes, you can. The first problem though, is the amount and the intensity of light may not be sufficient for a greenhouse. The difficulty lies in the way a bottle wall must be constructed. In a typical adobe style construction, the structural element that keeps the wall from failing is the mortar (whether cement mortar or earth and straw adobe) used in the construction of the wall. The bottles cannot be placed in contact with one another because you need to both bond them into the wall, and you must have enough clearance around the bottle to dig out a broken one and replace it. The relative visible area of mortar to glass can be as high as two to one or even more. Orienting (vertically or horizontally) the bottles in a wall so that the light passes through from side to side isn't practical. For the standard beer or soda bottle, the wall would have to be too thin to be structurally sound. Secondly, the fragility of the sides of the bottles would be a continuing safety issue, and a source of frequent repairs. I built a custom home for a client about 10 years ago with a decorative, non-structural bottle wall in the traditional style, using cement mortar and finished with white plaster. When the fireplace on either side of the wall was burning it was a striking architectural feature, but the light transmission was subdued and dim.
lemonie7 years ago
You need something to hold them together. Gravity may be a big part of the other designs. How were you thinking of fixing them? L
The dirt also helps support the weight without crushing the glass.
Aye, but it's a gravity-system, the weight matters. L
More likely insulation-the round tube of a glass bottle isn't going to get stronger by filling it with dirt.
You might be right.
use a wet tile saw to cut yer bottles in half , put th' open ends of th' bottoms together and wrap with duct tape ! light will shie in one end and out th' other , build yer wall with a stiff mortar and do good job of it and it will be as strong as yer average brick wall !!
The Earthship guys regularly use bottles as walls, without filling them.