Complete Earthen Floor

Date: June 21 - June 22, 2014
Duration: 2 Days
Fee: $219
Location: Millarville , AB

Earthen Floor Workshop at Woodland West near Millarville AB June 2014.

Contemporary earthen floors combine traditional methods while addressing modern demands and esthetics for a result that is beautiful, durable, non-toxic, ecologically-sensitive, and healthy.

This two day hands-on workshop will get you everything you need to know about earthen floors: the right proportions of sand to clay, the tools, subfloor preparation, the installation of radiant heating in earthen floors, & finishing techniques.

Learn our earthen floor recipe – including the use of local subsoil, as well as options for mixes from bagged pottery clays – how to lay in-floor heating into the earthen floor, proper subfloor insulation and preparation, earthen floor toweling techniques, and which finishes to use, including the different types of natural oils & waxes suitable for use.

Earthen floor finished with hemp oil & soft beeswax.


In this two day workshop we’ll cover:

  • Where earthen floors can be installed and how to prepare your space
  • How to create a durable and beautiful mix from clay, sand and straw
  • Proper tool selection
  • Floor installation techniques, using trowels and other tools to ensure proper laying of the material for best performance
  • In-floor (radiant) heating installation
  • Compression and burnishing
  • Finishing techniques including oiling and waxing
  • Repairs and maintenance

A Few Details:

We will meet out at Woodland West on Saturday morning, and get started at 9 am, and look to finish up by 5pm. We’ll also start at 9am and wrap up by 4:30 or 5 pm on Sunday. Woodland West is nestled in the foothills, 1 hr drive south west of Calgary (more about the workshop site below).

A fresh delicious lunch is included for both days.

About the Camping Option:

As this is such a great site to spend some time at, our hosts have offered up a camping option. We thought we’d look after dinner & breakfast if you’d like to stay overnight. Just select that option when you go to register. Note: this option is an additional $30 & only available for Saturday night.

*Please note that we are only accepting 8 students for this workshop. It will be in a smaller space, and we want to guarantee a great educational experience for you (the same reason we keep all of our workshops small).

Installing earthen floor over existing concrete with in-floor heating.


Earthen floors are the oldest floors on earth. They offer a warmth and beauty that is unsurpassed by other conventional flooring options. Soft and more comfortable than 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 since they are finished with plant-based oils and bee’s wax, they can be moped for easy cleaning.

First layer of earthen floor with in-floor heating in straw bale home.


Popular Questions from our Earthen Floor FAQ:

What is an earthen floor made from?

Earthen floors combine sand, clay and fiber, usually straw. Materials are generally sourced locally, depending on your needs and particular location. The floor is sealed with various plant-bases oils such as tung, hemp, and linseed, and a soft bee’s wax for long term protection.

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.

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.

Visit our Earthen Floor main page for more information, or visit our Earthen Floor Gallery page here.

Contact us [email protected] if you have specific concerns!

Some earthen floor tools: wooden floats for evenly spreading material.

About Woodland West (Host Location for this workshop, one hour’s drive south-west of Calgary):

 We are really excited to be partnering with Woodland West again. Last year, you may recall a little straw bale roundhouse with earthen plasters that we spent many loving hours on (read about that project & photo blog here). It really is a great space, and you’ll have the opportunity to see lots of natural building in action.

Woodland West is a beautiful retreat about an hours drive south of the city of Calgary, near Millarville, AB. The expansive site backs onto Kananaskis Country Provincial Park, has a creek running through it, and is surrounded by forests. Margit and Drew McNaughton are thrilled to be our hosts once again. They have an amazing vision for their place which includes education in all things sustainable. As such, there is already a large classroom facility that is solar powered, complete with a clay paint interior, which will serve as a classroom and working area should we encounter adverse weather during the workshop. You can look forward to a most excellent composting toilet experience!

Expect that your time at Woodland West will be rejuvenating, and use this weekend as an opportunity to spend some time in this tranquil place.

Woodland West & The Straw Bale Roundhouse where we will be building the rocket mass heater.


Why Take a Dirt Craft Workshop:

Thoughts on Natural Building Education:

We strongly believe that natural building is best learned in a hands-on environment, and this is why we always work on real projects in our workshops. Our goal is to ensure that you get the education and experience you need, to have the confidence to work on your own projects. We want to contribute in a positive and meaningful manner to the natural building community and we think that education, with integrity, in the latest building techniques can expand and add to this emerging field.

Learn From Experience:

We have taught over 450 students, and worked on many projects since we officially became a business in 2010. This means we have encountered many different, and sometimes difficult situations. We bring this experience and knowledge to each workshop, so that when you encounter your own difficulties, during your own project, you will be armed with all of the necessary information to make decisions when the time comes.


Review our cancellation policy here.

**Please note that we send out specific course information to all registered participants about a week prior to workshop date which includes location, and a brief reminder of what to expect, and what to bring. When you register online, we save your contact your contact information, for our records only (we respect your privacy, and would never sell it to a third party!). If you would rather bypass PayPal (you don’t have to have a PayPal account to use our online registration service), we gladly except cheques. Please contact us if you would like to pursue this option. Thanks!