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soil crete for outside

 
pollinator
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I want something like a concrete slab around the house and on the terrace. Around the house it shuold keep the grass and the weeds away because of termites. The terrace without a roof for seating (what a luxurous idea to sit in the garden!!!). Is soil crete suitable? Are there good DIY instructions? Can I pretty it up with colour or mosaic etc? What about the base for the soil crete?  How do I get a bit of a slope that the water runs off?
Or do you have any other ideas than soil crete?
 
Angelika Maier
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or let's call it earth crete. Doesn't anyone have experience with that?
 
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heya... not really. i ve seen it done in a few videos (EDIT: indoors under earthen floor). they used 1 portland to 9 soil/dirt. but... it depends. you could make a test batch with that ratio.

how big do you wanna make that slab?

slope: i would make posts in the corners and screw 2x4 (straight ones) against it with the desired slope. use a level taped to another 2x4 to test if they re parralel. then use a 2x4 to scrape the concrete by using the fixed 2x4 as guidances.

you could probably add another inch of normal concrete to waterproof it.

colour and mosaic should work, but test.

i m not sure how long it will last because of moisture wicking up from the ground. concrete with not enough portland tends to loose it's binder when moist over a long time

EDIT: and you could paint it. there are sealers for concrete. but they re not natural. painting with lime might help a bit, but it would need to be reapplied often. lineseed oil? maybe?
you could pour test slabs and test different ratios and treatments. you could use a mold to pour custom-shaped pavers / stepping stones (this would be a good way to test your mixtures and sealers and leave you with at least a few usable pavers)
 
pollinator
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You might try searching on "Soil Cement" instead.  I've seen where they have successfully used this for paving roads.
The simplest way would probably be to make sure the ground slopes appropriately before starting.  Rent or borrow a rototiller (unless you already have one), break up the soil then just pour a 1/2-1" layer of cement on the ground and till it in, rake it smooth then maybe screed it with a long board, then spray water over it.
You could float and trowel it smooth, but for large slabs that requires expensive tools and skills that require quite a bit of practice.

An alternative would be to make cement stabilized adobe bricks/blocks (at least 1.5" thick) and then lay them out like pavers.
 
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I have made it, and there are various forms depending on the end product.

The best is the rototiller method which is where you mix in the cement with the earth, then add water and mix again. The more passes you make, the better the the strength of the mix of course.

Another method which works well, especially for stiffening up driveways, is to just dump the cement and rake along the ground. In time the very fine dust will work into the soil, and then the moisture will harden it.

I am not sure I would drive my bulldozer across either types, but it is a nice halfway point between true concrete and just earth.
 
Angelika Maier
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Thanks and good that this works.I will hire a rototiller no need to break my back. I won't add colour but maybe some mosaic old shards and such. I wonder why this is not used more often.
 
Peter VanDerWal
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Angelika Maier wrote: I wonder why this is not used more often.



As a guess, probably because it's not a significant cost savings.  The two most expensive parts of normal concrete is the Portland cement and the labor.   The cost of the aggregate (sand and gravel) is pretty minor compared to the rest.

Soil cement uses about the same amount of Portland cement and requires as much labor if not more, so you end up with a less durable product for only slightly less money.  As a guess, if you contracted out a long driveway, you'd save maybe 5-7% going soil cement instead of concrete.

On the other hand, I've made soil cement for small projects and it looks just like dirt.  So if you want a hard paved surface that blends in with the surroundings, it's hard to beat.

Note: If you're doing all the work yourself, and don't consider the cost of your labor,  then the savings for soil cement work out to around 25%.
 
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I know this is an old thread but I was searching for any new research that has been done on this technique.
I used this about 30 years ago for a floor I put in a dog kennel. I used a few bags of cement and just the dirt that was present in the ground. I used a rototiller to mix everything in place, sprayed water on it, and then tamped it down. I hosed down the floor on a regular basis in the warm weather. This was in Massachusetts with temps falling below zero at night. The floor stood up for about 5 years but I don't know how much longer after that since I moved out of state. I found this technique in an article in the April 1985 edition of Popular Science magazine. I tore the pages out and saved them until they invented the desktop copy machine and then took a digital pic of them recently.
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