Installing an Earthen Floor in the Straw Bale Roundhouse

Some General Details

This little straw bale roundhouse is set on a pretty wet site, and utilizes rubble trench and a French drain to divert water away from the footing. Because there are no floor joists or other sub floor, we followed similar preparation steps to that of a concrete slab. That is, starting with compacted gravel for drainage, leveling with sand, poly vapour barrier, and rigid foam insulation. On top of the insulation we tamped down a layer of sand/ gravel/ clay to make sure the rigid foam was properly stabilized, weighted, and level. After that layer was complete, we laid wire mesh, and tied down the PEX for the in-floor heating. After all that, we were ready to lay in the earthen floor!

Into the mortar mixer, we added our recipe of sand, clay, straw and water to the right consistency, and using our hands, floats, and laser level, the floor was installed. There is one final layer that still needs to go in. Because there were so many layers to this particular floor, we didn’t go all the way to finished grade with one pass of the earth. Instead, we left room for another 1/2, so that in the event there is any cracking, we can repair the first layer, and come in with a final, beautiful, smooth finish once everything is dry.

Below, are a few photos of the process. Enjoy!

Rocket mass heater bench, before the sub floor prep

Earthen floor samples – testing different recipes.

Sub floor prep – vapour barrier, insulation and stabilizing layer.

In – floor heating.

Mixing the earthen floor recipe.

Laying first part of the earthen floor.

Earthen floor workshop – group photo!

Earthen floor – almost finished the first layer.

For more information about earthen floors, visit our resource page here, for upcoming workshops, see our current schedule here, and stay in touch, sign up for our newsletter on the right hand column!




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