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ksia

Earth Floor

We have a small building next to the house that we are finally getting round to doing something with. It's at least 100 years old and with a very nice bread oven.

We've got advice on the walls and roof but are unsure on the floor.
It's not going to get heavy use - it'll be a studio for us and perhaps somewhere for people to stay in summer (...but as we don't plan to add a toilet or washing facilities they won't be staying long!). It'll have no heating, walls and roof will be insulated.

Currently it's just earth. Can we just stick cement down or is that a big building no-no and I know it's not very enviro...so any suggestions? It only has 'normal' sized doors so we can't get any machinery in there.
thanks
Treacodactyl

What about earth? There was an article a while back in Permaculture magazine about earth/clay floors. Basically stones are covered in a mix of earth/clay, then a fine layer added and finally sealed with an oil. Sounded quite good to me.
MarkS

nothing wrong with earth floors. quite traditional in many areas. I'd avoid conrete for many reasons.

Is it being problematic for some reason?

could always put stone slabs down on a layer of sand.
Mary-Jane

Eeek - Gervase will be along in a minute before you decide to do anything rash... Shocked
Gervase

Nowt wrong with earth floors. If you want to stand heavy stuff on the floor or move things around a lot you could compact it as hard as you can and put a screed of limeash or limecrete on top, or simply lay quarry tiles or pamments down.
Do avoid the concrete at all costs, though. And don't put any plastic membrane down; it's bad for the walls.
Mary-Jane

We've got sand underneath our hall slate flagstones...I mean just sand and nothing else! Presumably earth somewhere further down though. Laughing
ksia

Thanks for your ideas.
Sand and flags sounds interesting. Do you grout inbetween like other tiles/flags?

Nothing against earth but the building hasn't been used for xxx years and I don't know what horrors are in it (I think it had animals in at one point). Currently the earth is very dry and dusty and so it just seems mucky in there.
Gervase

You don't have to grout, but if you want to, use a mix of lime and silver sand. A stone or tiled floor would certainly keep the dust down and would be easy to keep clean.
MarkS

ksia wrote:
Nothing against earth but the building hasn't been used for xxx years and I don't know what horrors are in it (I think it had animals in at one point). Currently the earth is very dry and dusty and so it just seems mucky in there.


Even better.

Wattle and Daub? Sticks 'n' shit
ksia

I kinda know that cement is bad but I've only vague reasons - it pollutes during it's production and doesn't allow a house to 'breathe', plus a feeling it wouldn't be right - see vague..!
Can anyone give me a couple of (short) reasons so I can reply to people and sound very informed and firm that we're not using it!
thanks
Mary-Jane

ksia wrote:
I kinda know that cement is bad but I've only vague reasons - it pollutes during it's production and doesn't allow a house to 'breathe', plus a feeling it wouldn't be right - see vague..!
Can anyone give me a couple of (short) reasons so I can reply to people and sound very informed and firm that we're not using it!
thanks


I'll get Gervase on the case shortly - he's outside in the yard underneath the Land Rover at the moment...

But have a look at our website which might help: Horgan & Webb
dougal

ksia wrote:
... Currently the earth is very dry and dusty and so it just seems mucky in there.

Dry is good!

Regarding the dust, I wonder if it would be worth investigating a resin bonded top dressing. It should give a conventional looking, hardwearing, level and even sort of surface... and some of them are designed to be porous/permeable - though they are more often employed outdoors.
Not suggesting that this would be better than stone, but it should be massively cheaper/easier - if that matters!
Gervase

I'd counsel against resin. Never do anything to a building that can't be undone, and most resins are impossible to remove once applied.
To stop dusting on tiled, earth and ash floors you can use diluted milk (which can whiff a bit!) or linseed oil (which can darken the surface and make it sticky in areas without a lot of traffic). To bind the earth, if you want to keep the earth floor and not lay slabs or tiles, I'd use limeash.
Though, to be honest, most of the dust is what's brought in on shoes, and will be the same whatever you have on the floor.
dougal

Gervase wrote:
I'd counsel against resin. Never do anything to a building that can't be undone, and most resins are impossible to remove once applied. ...

As floor sealant over earth, surely it could be pretty easily broken/dug up?

I certainly wouldn't suggest spraying such stuff on walls or the inside of a roof Surprised - but I wouldn't have thought it would be permanent/damaging applied over earth...
For floor/wall detailing, I'd imagine a bit of Tyvek-sort-of-stuff to separate wall and resin, and a bit of skirting board if needed to smarten the edge and hide the top of the membrane. Would that work?
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