Earthen floors are the oldest floors on earth. They offer a warmth and beauty that is unsurpassed by other conventional flooring options. Soft and comfortable compared to concrete, earthen floors are durable, long lasting, earth and people-friendly, and affordable. They add thermal mass, making them perfect for passive solar designs, while complimenting in-floor heating systems very well.
Earthen floors can be installed over most existing floor systems and when finished with plant-based oils and bee’s wax, they can be moped for easy cleaning.
Dirt Craft offers several possibilities for earthen floors.
The first is our custom mix, which offers affordability, durability, consistency, and incredible beauty.
The second option is for those wishing to use their “indigenous” local soils for their floor. If you have access to clay-rich soil, say from digging your foundation, this can be a worthwhile endeavor. Keep in mind that this option requires more time for testing and the results are less consistent than our custom mix.
For more information and to see finished samples of Dirt Craft’s custom floor mixes, please email or call us at 403.700.2629.
What is an earthen floor made from?
Earthen floors combine aggregates, clay and fibre, usually straw. Materials are generally sourced locally, depending on the client’s particular location. The floor is sealed with various plant-bases oils such as tung, hemp, and linseed, and sometimes a blend of waxes for sheen or greater durability. Mineral-based pigments may be added depending on the desired finish.
Where can these floors be installed?
Earthen floors offer versatility for a wide-range of spaces, and are suitable for every room of the house. They are not recommended in outdoor spaces, basements prone to flooding, areas that are frequently wet, or in areas prone to lots of abuse (i.e. in a workshop where heavy tools are frequently dropped).
Earthen floors can be installed “on grade”, on existing concrete slabs, and when properly prepared, on a framed sub floor. Earthen floors are very strong but like tile, they will crack if allowed to flex too much. If the floor is engineered to accept ceramic tile, it should also work for an earthen floor.
How thick are earthen floors?
Depending on the situation, they may range from as thin a 3/4 of an inch to as much as 3 or 4 inches.
Are earthen floors easy to maintain?
Yes. Earthen floors can be swept, vacuumed, and mopped. An occasional washing with an oil-based soap (i.e. “Ecover Floor Soap”) will keep the floor clean and glossy. A new coat of wax should be applied on occasion, though this may be every 1 to 5 years depending on the wear. Earthen floors are easily patched if they are damaged.
How long do they last?
With regular maintenance and care, an earthen floor should last a lifetime. We’ve seen earthen floors that were three decades old and still going strong.
How long does the process take?
Earthen floors are done in stages and can take several weeks before they are completed, though the floor can still be “used” during this time. The overall curing time will largely depend on the thickness of the floor. Feel free to contact us (or 403.700.2629) for a free quote and to discuss creative ways to complete your project with as little interruption as possible.
These samples were made for floors that were being installed in a straw bale home, with an in-floor heating system. All of the earth that was used came directly from the hole that was dug for the foundation. After we made a larger number of samples, choosing those with the best appearance - i.e. no cracking, no shrinkage, wholly intact - we chose 3 to do some more invasive tests on. These highly scientific (wink, wink) abrasion and impact tests helped us determine which sample to go with. Not the best quality perhaps, but it's worthwhile to see how the different samples behave to our inquisitions.