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Earthen floor for yurts?

Posts: 13
Location: Ithaca, NY (Zone 6)
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I love the idea of having an earthen floor and wonder if it would make sense to put earthen floors in the two 21'-diameter yurts we'll be building in the spring (that means each yurt is about 346 sq ft). The yurts are wool-lined and we'll be heating with an RMH (assuming our building code guy is ok with that...). The yurts will be on a wood deck. So my questions are...
- Do earthen floors seem appropriate for this?
- How would you suggest we do it? On top of plywood? How thick? What other details?
- How would you suggest we insulate the floor? Since our yurts will be insulated with wool, we'd love to avoid foam insulation... maybe we could put wool or rockwool insulation underneath the plywood that's under the earthen floors? Any other suggestions for insulation material?

I'd really love to get earthen floors in there but wonder if it's a silly/impractical wish... I really appreciate any and all feedback!
Posts: 1615
Location: Central Maine (Zone 5a)
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Hi Matt,
In my opinion (which has no experience with yurts), if you are putting the yurt on a wooden platform, I would not put an earthen floor on top of it. I think if you put a thin enough layer to not put too much weight on the platform, you may end up with cracking. If you make it thick enough to avoid cracking, you would need to build the platform much stronger. Regardless of the floor type, I would absolutely insulate the floor.

May I ask what attracts you to the earthen floor? Maybe there is another option?

Posts: 623
Location: South West France
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Hi Matt,

My experience with yurts - we had one for 12 years in the Pyrenees- is that they are not designed for our western climate.  Besides, they were nomadic dwellings and if you wish your yurt to be sedentary, you'll have to adapt a bit.  The problem with an earth floor is that the cold and especially the dampness rises from the ground.

What we did to ours to level the ground was to lay a layer of small stones on top of a waterproof membrane.  On that, sat wooden pallets that were stuffed with insulation, on top of which we nailed some chestnut planks flooring. Cut the whole thing to the diameter of the yurt and Bob's your uncle as they say in the UK!!  Wool rugs, sheepskins and a wood burner made it very cosy.

Your worst enemy in France will be the rain and the damp, so I would not personally have a bare earth soil.

By the way, where are you in France?

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