I finished my gorgeous floor a couple of years ago. The attached picture shows it in all its glory. I was living in the house so did not want to do an earthen floor with a linseed oil finish due to the odor. So I decided to put paper over it. The last layer of plaster was super fine and I troweled it very smoothly and then, while damp, I put paper that had been dipped in diluted glue down and spread it out. It dried beautifully and I finished with three coats of Varathane brand no odor polyurethane high traffic floor finish. I was in love. It was the perfect floor. Until it wasn't. Over time it just didn't hold up to the two people and one German shepherd who lived on it. I believe that what happened was the glue didn't penetrate and bond with the earth layer well enough and over time a little void would develop between the paper and the earth and make parts vulnerable. In the beginning I would simply rip up the damaged area and do a patch but it is now evident that this is not going to be my forever floor treatment. So here's my pickle...what to do now? I'm wondering if there is something I can simply apply over the earth once I take the paper up that will be somewhat self leveling and not stink. As we're living in the house I don't want to even try an oil finish on the earthen floor that offgasses into the house and must be treated gingerly as it hardens over time. As much as I didn't plan on or want a cement floor I've thought of self leveling concrete. Could I do a cork underlayment over the earth and then maybe do tiles that are laid and grouted but not mortared on the bottom? I'm so open to suggestions and hoping that the beautiful, creative permie minds here will brainstorm me a solution. I've come across references about how in Korea they put paper over earthen floors but can find no description of how it is done. Maybe there is some magic to the application technique they use that would make me consider doing it again but I'm pretty sure I need a new solution.
Big Smoky Valley, Nevada
416sf Load Bearing Strawbale House