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Earthen Floors : A Modern Approach to an Ancient Practice - Sukita Reay Crimmel

Earthen Floors

A Modern Approach to an Ancient Practice

Paperback Published: 13th May 2014
ISBN: 9780865717633
Number Of Pages: 241

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For most of human history, people have lived in durable, comfortable buildings made from natural materials such as soil, sand, rocks, and fiber. All over the globe, these ancient traditions persist; a quarter to a third of the world's population today lives in houses built partially or entirely of earth. Conventional Western building techniques using industrial materials may save time and create efficiencies, but these perceived savings come at considerable financial and environmental cost.

As well as boasting a unique and beautiful aesthetic, natural building techniques are accessible, affordable, and non-toxic. Earthen Floors: A Modern Approach to an Ancient Practice is the first comprehensive, fully illustrated manual covering the history, use, and maintenance of this attractive, practical flooring option. This detailed, fully illustrated guide explains every part of the process, including:

  • Sourcing and harvesting materials
  • Preparing the subfloor
  • Pouring, finishing, and sealing the floor
  • Living with and maintaining your earthen floor

Because information on creating quality earthen floors was not previously widely available, there have been some negative experiences. Drawing on the combined knowledge of the most qualified earthen floor practitioners, as well their own substantial experience, the authors deliver the definitive resource for this exciting technique, perfect for everyone from the novice to veteran builder.

About the Author

Sukita Reay Crimmel has installed over twenty thousand square feet of earthen flooring, and is one of the preeminent experts in the emerging field of earthen floors.

James Thomson is part of House Alive, one of the leading natural building training organizations in the country.

Industry Reviews

"At last! The mystery is removed from most wonderful floors in the world. First thing you do: go find an earthen floor, pull off your shoes and socks, have a little walkabout, and discover great surprise and tactile delight. Next thing you do: buy this book, learn everything you need, and go make one yourself. Thank you Sukita and James for making this ancient treasure accessible to all." ---Bruce King, PE, Director, Ecological Building Network "Earthen floors have long been shrouded in mystery... Natural building enthusiasts have known about them and lusted after them, but despite the vast amount of natural building information produced in the past two decades, a tested and true treatise on earthen floors has been missing. No longer! This book is full of information, hard-won lessons learned and the real heart and spirit of natural building. The authors successfully de-mystify the process of mixing, installing, finishing and maintaining an earthen floor in a way that will help novices and seasoned builders alike to produce floors that are the most beautiful, sensual and eco-friendly option available. Thanks Sukita and James!" ---Chris Magwood "With Earthen Floors: A Modern Approach to an Ancient Practice, Sukita and James have come up with the ideal mix of inspiration, experience, technique, and instruction. This book will be of use and benefit to both experienced practitioners and those just dipping their toes into the subject of earthen floors for the first time. It is always a delight to find a well-written, clear and practical guide to natural building practice, and a special treat when fun and informative personal stories are interwoven with good graphics to bring the whole process to life. This book makes a great contribution to the field on every level. " ---David Eisenberg, Director, Development Center for Appropriate Technology "Earthen Floors fills a long-standing gap in the catalog of natural building publications in providing reliable and thorough instruction in earthen floor construction. With a style that is both comfortable and authoritative, this book offers the detailed instruction necessary for executing a quality earthen floor in a variety of different contexts. Crimmel and Thomson have drawn upon their extensive and direct experience in their craft and share valuable lessons learned with their readers. From the exploration of the historical roots of earthen floors to a look at the future of how we can improve upon this practice, Earthen Floors is the most comprehensive and thorough resource on earthen floor technology available today. With Earthen Floors, Crimmel and Thomson offer a gift to the natural building community that makes this technology more accessible to DIYers and professionals alike." ---Jacob Deva Racusin, Author, The Natural Building Companion, Co-Owner, New Frameworks Natural Building, LLC "This book is a welcome treasure, a long awaited and generous sharing of the detailed knowledge gained by the authors through years of testing and teaching and designing and installing earthen floors. In a thoughtfully presented text, we are now gifted with a compendium of information in one place, rather than the myriad conversations, tips, trials and experiments common in the last years of rediscovering and refining this valuable and timely technology. My clients and I will be indebted to Sukita and James for years to come. " ---Laura Bartels, Green Weaver Inc.

Forward (Bill Steen, author of The Straw Bale House)IntroductionIntroduce the authors and our love for earthen floors. Answer, why earthen floors? Compare and contrast earthen floors with other flooring options. Sharing some of the natural building philosophy.SECTION 1: ABOUT EARTHEN FLOORSChapter 1: History of earthen floors, from ancient to modern timesExamples of earliest use, how sealed and maintained, places used, etc. Distinguish between "dirt floors" and carefully made and cared-for earthen floors. History of the "modern-day" earthen floor movement. Trace its development and spread. Not technical info, just general who/where/whens. Highlight some good examples of existing floors with photos.Chapter 2: Understanding earthen floorsCharacteristics of floors, appropriate uses, covering the following attributes: Texture Flatness HardnessWeight Resistance to moisture and stains ToxicityFlammabilityOdorEmbodied Energy ColorThicknessInstallation time/Drying timeCost CracksSECTION 2: GETTING READYChapter 3: MaterialsA breakdown of materials used: which ones, why, where they come from, etc.Sand, Clay, Straw, Oil, Pigment, Wax; how to harvest/prep materials, or where to buyChapter 4: ToolsOverview of mixing tools, trowels, levels, floats, sprayers, and more. Discussion of which are necessary and which are merely helpful, and how to maintain your tools.Chapter 5: Making your mixHow to determine floor mixes, do tests, work with raw materials and calculate the amounts of materials needed.SECTION 3: INSTALLING YOUR FLOORChapter 6: preparing the subfloorDetermining whether your subfloor can support the weight, choices around vapor barriers, insulation and control joints.Chapter 7: Preparing the work areaHow to get the room ready for the floor pour, how to minimize the mess and making the actual mix.Chapter 8: Pouring the pourTroweling, leveling, burnishing and drying.Chapter 9: Finishing the floorOiling, sanding, waxing, buffing!Chapter 10: Living on and maintaining the floorThings to be careful of: excessive moisture, heavy furniture, pointy objects. How to fix cracks, chips, and dents. Maintaining and refinishing. Demolition/Disposal; life-cycle (cradle-to-cradle)SECTION 4- BEYOND THE BASICSChapter 11: Other options for earthen floorsTamped floors, clay/lime floors, other fibersChapter 12: Artistic touchesInlays, prints, color clay washesChapter 13: Using radiant heat:Water, electric, hypocausts, rocket-stovesChapter 14: Experiments we've done or would like to see done.Earthen floor tiles, burlap imbedded floors.SECTION 5: THE FUTURE OF EARTHEN FLOORSChapter 15: Earthen floor contractingExisting situation; what we projectChapter 16: Pre-mixed floor mixSharing about Claylin.Chapter 17: ResourcesList of contractors, Claylin distributors, books, websites, living-building challenge, workshops.Chapter 18: Final thoughtsWords of encouragement for the DIY-erAPPENDICESTechnical Information: Weight, fire rating, compressive strength, r and u values, chemical contents of oils and waxesInstallation Flow Chart: Visual display of what questions to answer and what to do before and during your installCosts: Example costs of materials, square footage cost estimates based on a contractor install

ISBN: 9780865717633
ISBN-10: 086571763X
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 241
Published: 13th May 2014
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.9 x 18.5  x 1.91
Weight (kg): 0.51

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