The Earthen Floor Epic, Part I

In a catch-up post from 2016, I promised you’d get to see Mia laying the base layer for our upstairs earthen floor. Well here it is:


If you’re wondering what these nut bars are up to laying a mud floor in their new house [the building inspector certainly was], rest assured that we are only at the rough base layer stage right now but here’s what we are hoping for when we get to the final, tinted earthen floor layers later this summer:

These fine floors are the work of Sukita Reay Crimmel, author of New Society’s Earthen Floors. I had the pleasure of giving her a lift through the mountains and desert of New Mexico in 2015 and bending her ear about earthen floors. She tried to get out of the car but we were driving at 70 miles per hour.

However, I wish I’d have listen more closely to her words about testing as we had a few problems with our initial ground floor sub-floor mix that we later sorted out once I revisited her book. But rather than me blathering on about it in words, you can watch me blather on about it here and how it went oh so wrong and then oh so right.

When we get to the final floors this coming summer, I’ll give you much more detail about how they are laid, the huge benefits, the challenges and how they are finished.

Until then, here are some fun photos of playing in the mud [and really sore knees].


Karen whacking straw for the cob


Karen, Grandma and Mia mixing cob


The mix that later cracked. Too thick, too much clay and not enough sand and fibre


Concrete pad and make-up air intake for the wood stove


Barley sprouting as the cob dries


Prepping height sticks for the main room base layer


Living room floor prepped and ready for the cob base layer


Bubble material to reduce the probability of cracking around the posts


Wood stove air in-take pipe goes under the floor and out through the wall.


Mia being swallowed by a massive pile of cob


Laying the base layer in the living room


You can’t keep John away from this stuff


Mia checking the elevation of her section of floor


John and Mia in the kitchen


The last bits of a seven hour continuous pour of the living room and kitchen cob sub-floor


Karen mixing a 20 bucket load of cob with the rototiller


Oh my


Moving material with the venerable Ford


Mia’s addition to her bedroom sub-floor


Karen and John laying the sub-floor in our upstairs project room


Oh yeah


Floor eye’s view