Earthen floors range from basic dirt, hardened and sealed from years of use, to elaborate clay mixtures poured in place, leveled and highly polished. Due to their natural warmth, softness and breathability, earthen floors make very comfortable living surfaces. There are a number of advantages to earthen floors. They can be inexpensive, if local clay soils are used. These types of floors are also easier to install and repair than brick, tile or concrete floors. Well-built earthen floors can be quite durable even under high traffic. Once sealed, they can be swept, mopped or waxed like other floors.
Finishes can vary from smooth and shiny or more earthy, slightly matted and textured with flecks of straw. Methods range from the African use of fresh cow dung sealed with ox blood, to earth mixtures sealed with linseed oil and beeswax. These floors can provide an excellent source of thermal mass in passive solar designs.
Materials and Methodologies