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No. 64, Summer 2014

Earthen Floors: A Modern Approach to an Ancient Practice (Book Review)

By Jeff RuppertJuly 25, 2014March 20th, 2022No Comments

Cover2Earthen floors are ubiquitous in most of the world.  They are the most accessible type of flooring to a vast portion of the human population.  In the modern world earthen floors are still something of an oddity to most people, that is until they step foot on one.  And then they are hooked for life.

As a simple mixture of sand, clay, water and fibers, more and more people are installing them in their new modern homes with stunning results.

Today’s practitioners of earthen floors are able to create extremely beautiful, deeply rich wearing surfaces in our most refined spaces.  The techniques used to accomplish such enjoyable surfaces have been honed through trial and error by a handful of people who readily share their knowledge.  Any modern home being built today with natural fibers or earthen walls should also include earthen floors.  The durability and applicability are on par with any other flooring system, and we are surprised no one has really covered this topic in a comprehensive way, until now.

Sukita Crimmel and James Thompson have put together a work of art matched only by the sheer beauty of their floors.  They start from the beginning and explain their roots,  how they gained hands-on experience and learned from past masters.  The text is remarkably easy to read and the layout of the book is logical.  This is a how-to manual and you won’t be disappointed in the amount of details and examples given.

As with any type of flooring, earthen floors have limitations, leading to minor maintenance and occasional major refinishing.  These issue are clearly addressed.  You are shown how to repair cracks and chips.  You are even shown how to properly remove the floor at the end of its useful life, and even if you want to reuse the material again for another floor.  Being able to reuse the material or dispose of it in your yard is a truly unique characteristic of earthen floors and exemplifies natural building.

Small details from showing you how to protect new door jambs from wheelbarrow damage to dealing with sprouted seeds often found in the clay and sand mixture are included.  They even cover earthen counter-tops and supply some ideas to overcome some obvious issues.

Earthen Floors: A Modern Approach to and Ancient Practice can be purchased from New Society Publishers for $29.95 USD and CDN (print version) or $19.45 USD and CDN (e-book).  This book is a must-have for all natural builders and those interested in doing a floor themselves.

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