• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • r ranson
  • Mike Haasl
  • James Freyr
stewards:
  • paul wheaton
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Burra Maluca
garden masters:
  • Steve Thorn
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • Kate Downham
  • Jay Angler
  • thomas rubino

Flooring options, what works?

 
Posts: 9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have seen alot of threads about different ways to build walls and roofs, but nothing really gets mentioned about floors.  What techniques have you guys seen that keep it simple and cheap?  Earthen floors seem the easiest option,  but how do you clean them?  What kind of insulation should be used if the floor isn't made of the ground?
 
pollinator
Posts: 240
Location: Northern New Mexico, Zone 5b
8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The house I am just starting to build will have earthen floor in all but the front entry and bathroom/laundry.  I have helped others with earthen floors but this will be my first start to finish.

Most  people sweep and wet mop (oiled) earthen floors like you would other flooring.  If three to four coats of warm linseed oil / thinner are applied - you can wet mop without problems.

The floor I'm doing will have six inches of pumice underneath (12" thick around perimeter), landscape fabric, then a couple inches of basecourse, then approx. 4" earthen floor with radiant tubing in middle.  I have talked with others (and seen the floors) who have done the same with good results.  Rugs in the high traffic zones and under dining furniture etc. are a good idea...
 
Posts: 12
Location: Wayland,Missouri
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The cheapest floor I know of is Oehlers method of just leveling the dirt then lay a moisture barrier (plastic sheeting) then carpet over that. You get the softness of the earth but kept dry and clean by the plastic barrier. I mean imagine waking up every day and swinging your feet over the side of the bed and stepping on that warm solid terra firma. I can't imagine anything better.
 
drew msmith
Posts: 9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Any reason why that method wouldn't work with laminate flooring in the more spill prone areas?
 
Posts: 1502
Location: Chihuahua Desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
this is what we did throughout: http://www.velacreations.com/cebfloors.html


basically, lay bricks without mortar, sweeps sand in the cracks and seal.  It comes out very cheap. (less than $0.4 per square foot)
 
            
Posts: 58
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Could you lay tile over the bricks?
 
gardener
Posts: 1924
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
135
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
something to keep in mind s you consider tile and brick:  they are just like walking on concrete, which breaks down the joints in ankles knees and hips.  It just doesn't have the give that wood and earth have.

I would stay away from carpet because of how hard it is to clean.  Sorry, I was thinking wall to wall.  Smaller sizes you can take out and shake, and leave in the sun can be clean.

I have an earthen floor I find durable and hard enough.  It was an experiment before I put one indoors-- that is still in the planning phase. 

My experiment:

I put a couple of layers of corrugated cardboard, then a vapor barrier,  then two layers of mud. I mixed my native soil (sand with a little clay, beautiful red) with some extra clay ( a grey tan, it turned the mud brown, but on drying the red was back), and for fiber we used the lawn mower to cut the weeds, and dried them before adding.  That was the base layer.

The finish layer, I left out the fiber ( not that good an idea)  and in an attempt to make it smoother, increased the clay.  Got some cracking, but we filled in cracks until we got tired of it, then those little cracks looked just fine.  I used 2 coats of heated linseed oil/ flax oil we heated up, used no thinners because I was worried about the fumes.

The flax oil off gassed plenty so I was wrong about blaming the fumes of linseed oil on thinners.  But the floor is serviceable, beautiful, has my foot prints in it as well as the kittens.  We put a jute rug in the center of the room where there is most wear.  I have wwoofers using it for a bunk house in the growing season, and I store things in there ofr the winters.  It gets fairly hard use, and though it shows scratches, I think I could easily get them out either by rewetting and patching, or just lightly sanding then re oiling.

I learned a lot, and just think what I could do if I followed the directions and proportions so readily available.

 
Posts: 33
Location: Minnesota
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm buying a converted barn and thinking how much I wish that bottom floor were earth instead of cement. Any suggestions about putting earthen floor on top of the cement? (To remove the cement would not only increase the radon issue but perhaps disturb the foundation - and cost a lot.) I would naturally think of putting in-floor heating in the earth.
 
Ardilla Esch
pollinator
Posts: 240
Location: Northern New Mexico, Zone 5b
8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The earthen floor article at landerland.com talks about doing a 1/2" earthen floor over concrete. This is entirely doable. Though you can't put radiant heat tubing in a layer that thin. I would want at least two inches of earthen floor cover over radiant tubing.
 
Posts: 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Toby Woodbury wrote:The cheapest floor I know of is Oehlers method of just leveling the dirt then lay a moisture barrier (plastic sheeting) then carpet over that. You get the softness of the earth but kept dry and clean by the plastic barrier. I mean imagine waking up every day and swinging your feet over the side of the bed and stepping on that warm solid terra firma. I can't imagine anything better.



Except that would kind of defeat the purpose of the beautiful earthen floor.
 
Shodo Spring
Posts: 33
Location: Minnesota
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank you both. I had forgotten - busy dealing with getting wood stoves going - but really like hearing the encouragement.

I wonder if it's safe to put 2" of earth over concrete - I have the space. And tons of sand (to dig out of the ground here; it's that clean in some places).
 
pollinator
Posts: 110
32
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am planning  on putting in an aircrete sub floor because I think it would be at least 1/2 the cost of blue foam. I'm a believer in insulating floors, cold feet, no good. Then I want to put about 2 inches of earthen floor on that. It is a large room 20 ft. x 40 ft. and will be a sort of sun room 2 sliding doors and 6 windows so when the sun hits in the floor it should store a lot of heat. I'm doing 10 ft. squares at a time.
  I think this is a fairly economical way to build a floor, carpet may be cheap but they also off gas things as well as the plastic underneath that you do not want in your body. Even though Portland cement may not be the best for our environment, I think is a lot better than Styrofoam.  
Here is a video I made of my aircrete foam generator. It's a new toy so I'll be make a lot of things with it I hope.


Thanks for watching and God bless.
 
pollinator
Posts: 4958
1126
transportation duck trees rabbit tiny house chicken earthworks building woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Ardilla Esch wrote:The earthen floor article at landerland.com talks about doing a 1/2" earthen floor over concrete.  This is entirely doable.  Though you can't put radiant heat tubing in a layer that thin.  I would want at least two inches of earthen floor cover over radiant tubing.



I put 1 inch of sand over a concrete floor, my radiant floor pex tube in the sand to help heat my home. Over the pex and sand I put wide pine flooring. It does exceptionally well at heating my home...
 
pollinator
Posts: 467
Location: South West France
134
goat forest garden fungi chicken food preservation fiber arts solar sheep rocket stoves homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This isn't an earth floor but it had a lot of earth in it. It was our very cheap but very time-consuming alternative to expensive terre cuite tiles. I thought about an earth floor but I dye wool and make a lot of conserves and we have some older dog/cats and sometimes lambs and kids who pee on the floor occasionally, so it was too much of a risk to try an earth floor, then have to redo it because it couldn't stand up to the humidity.

I read how to use straw for insulation under the floor and make the tiles in a book called "The Straw Bale House". So on top of about 75cms of rocks, we laid straw bales with mortar mixed with straw between them to support the floor. The floor is warm in the winter and cool in the summer. On the left in the photo is a small underfloor cellar which stays really cool.



Then we laid a classic screed floor and on top (because our house is bioclimatic and we wanted loads of thermal mass) we made a mix with sand, clay, white cement and ochre colours and made "tiles", tamping them down, then cutting and shaping them by hand (plastic bag over hand) to consolidate the mix and give them a nice finish.





Finishing off the last joints between the "tiles"



Floor after 17 years (Although I promised to wax it every summer, I don't) I love the floor and it doesn't show the dirt much with loads of muddy boots and 5 dogs coming in and out.

 
Travis Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 4958
1126
transportation duck trees rabbit tiny house chicken earthworks building woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We are building an Inlaw Apartment and for flooring in the bathroom of it we are going to use pennies. It literally is chump-change in a per square foot basis.

A person could also use wood and burnish the wood with a propane torch and have a decent, cheap floor.

I sawed my own trees, sawed my own logs into 10 inch wide White Pine flooring, formed the shiplapped edges, and laid it in my great room. I did not even plane the wood. After 5 years us just walking on it smoothed it up. I finally sanded it last spring after 5 years of being in place. I am not sure what the cost was, MAYBE 30 cents a square foot.

Making your own concrete and using paint and a stamping die is also incredibly cheap.

I have a lot of slate where I live. I took boulders of it from out back when I cleared my pasture and hand split the rock into 2 inch thick slabs. I cut the rock where I had to with a angle grinder and a cheap diamond blade. I filled between the slabs of slate with homemade mortar. As I speak my dog is lying on the cool rock in my entryway. (It is hot in here because of the pellet stove).
DSCN0767.JPG
[Thumbnail for DSCN0767.JPG]
 
Posts: 118
Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
44
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Last fall I had to utilize an unfinished pen - no concrete yet - threw lino down on top of the earth and it has worked shockingly well. This is used by a very capable, 25lb animal known to be extremely dexterous with his hands, both digging and climbing.

Key is super smooth, tamped earth - the few minor failures occurred where I was less than diligent and the unsupported lino has the odd small, 1 inch crack where there were unsmoothed divots.

The structure is essentially a roofed shed/pole barn with mesh walls. The animals have not messed with the lino at all, not even the couple of cracks, and it's SOOO easy to clean with a broom or mop. The edges are held in place with boards screwed to the wall "pressing down" on the lino that is just an inch wider than the structure walls. It was leftover "commercial grade" that was free.

Note: I would be concerned placing earth atop concrete in a barn IF used by animals as cleaning would be impossible (urine, feces, food mixing into a mucky, muddy mess) to do hygenically, IMO.
 
Don't mess with me you fool! I'm cooking with gas! Here, read this tiny ad:
Heat your home with the twigs that naturally fall of the trees in your yard
http://woodheat.net
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!