Adobe Walls

This course covers the fundamentals of building earthen walls using adobe bricks. We begin the wall building process by laying a first course of adobes onto the foundation wall. We continue course by course to the top of the wall ending with the installation of a wood bond beam. We define key concepts and correct building procedures of a typical load-bearing adobe block wall. We also examine different methods of installing window and door openings into the wall.

Topics Include:

  • overview of common adobe wall thicknesses
  • thermal storage and heat transmission properties of adobe walls – R-values and U-values
  • basic seismic considerations when building with adobe
  • constructing and setting up speed leads
  • mixing earthen mortar
  • applying mortar to the wall
  • correct block coursing, leveling and plumbing
  • cutting adobe blocks
  • constructing and installing anchor blocks and rough bucks
  • constructing and installing lintels
  • constructing and installing wood bond beams
  • scaffolding and high wall strategies
  • insulation techniques for adobe walls

Instruction Type:

This is a hands-on class. Attendees will have the opportunity to get dirty and use tools and equipment typical of adobe construction. Due to the course format, enrollment will be limited to 14 individuals. In the unlikely event of inclement weather, instruction will occur indoors.


Kurt Gardella

Kurt was an instructor at Northern New Mexico College from 2006 to 2012. He offers classes through Adobe in Action and at Santa Fe Community College.


The class will be conducted in Pioneertown, California, about 12 miles outside of Joshua Tree National Park and some 40 miles from Palm Springs. Joshua Tree and the surrounding area have a wealth of great hiking, climbing, lodging and food options, including Pioneertown’s world famous Pappy and Harriet’s just down the street.


There are lots of private vacation rentals available around Pioneertown, at various price points. Check out and for more information. The Wooden Indian Ranch, Little House, and Little Red Cabin are all within a block of Adobeisnotsoftware.


The cost for the week-long session is $500/person. Please inquire for discounts for groups of more than four.

Fine Print

Construction is inherently dangerous, and participants are expected to be partners in ensuring their own safety.  You may be asked to sign an acknowledgement of this in advance of class participation.  Children under 14 cannot be accommodated except by prior arrangement.

Classes may not be held in the event of sufficient registrations to cover operating costs – adobeisnotsoftware reserves the right to cancel undersubscribed classes and events with at least 7 days prior notice.

For individuals who find they may not be able to attend a class or event for which they are registered, adobeisnotsoftware will offer a full refund if notified at least two weeks in advance.  For cancellations less than two weeks prior to the event date, adobeisnotsoftware will provide a credit for the full amount of tuition to be used for a future adobeisnotsoftware event.


Pioneertown, CA


(760) 278-1134



Precise directions will be sent to participants prior to the class.