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close this bookAppropriate Building Materials: a Catalogue of Potential Solutions (SKAT; 1988; 430 pages)
View the documentPreface
Open this folder and view contentsIntroduction
Open this folder and view contentsFundamental information on building materials
Open this folder and view contentsFundamental information on building elements
Open this folder and view contentsFundamental information on protective measures
Open this folder and view contentsExamples of foundation materials
close this folderExamples of floor materials
View the documentStabilized earth floors
View the documentBurnt clay and concrete components
View the documentPrecast concrete ceiling components
View the documentBamboo floors
View the documentTimber floors
View the documentSulphur concrete floors
View the documentCommon floor finishes
Open this folder and view contentsExamples of wall materials
Open this folder and view contentsExamples of roof materials
Open this folder and view contentsExamples of building systems
Open this folder and view contentsAnnexes

Stabilized earth floors


Special properties

Natural, local material

Economical aspects

Low cost


Low to medium

Skills required

Experience in soil construction

Equipment required

Rammer or vibrating plate; soil blocks press

Resistance to earthquake


Resistance to hurricane

Low, if water enters the house

Resistance to rain

Low, if water enters the house

Resistance to insects


Climatic suitability

Dry climates

Stage of experience



• Earth floors are common in all developing countries, especially rural housing: the top soil (with organic matter) is removed and filled up with inorganic soil (clay, sand, gravel) well compacted. Surface coats of a clay - cow dung mix provide some stabilization, but have to be renewed frequently, to be effective.

• At Kassel College of Technology, Federal Republic of Germany, a rammed earth floor was developed, using a finely grained soil mix, stabilized with linseed oil: the clay content of the soil should be less than 15 %; no coarse sand or gravel; for 100 litres of dry soil, 3-4 litres of linseed oil (depending on clay content) are diluted with 1-2 litres of water.

• Several layers are required (see description overleaf) and the surface can be plain rammed earth in a grid of wooden lathing or small timber blocks embedded in the soil mix. Alternatively, compressed, stabilized soil blocks (made in a soil block press) can be used instead of the timber blocks.

Further information: Bibl.21.10.

Floor Construction


• On a well-compacted, planed surface, coarse gravel (15 cm) is laid to prevent moisture absorption by capillary action.

• This is covered by a 3 - 5 cm layer of fine gravel or coarse sand and sealed with a waterproof membrane.

• In cold regions, a 10 cm layer of insulating material (eg expanded clay nodules) can be placed before

• the first layer of stabilized soil is evenly spread out and tamped with a manual rammer or vibrating plate.

• A grid (1.80 x 1.80 m) of sawn timber (10 x 10 cm) is laid on the first layer and filled with the soil mix and tamped.

• A grid (30 x 30 cm) of wooden laths (2 x 4 cm) is placed on the second layer and the final layer is filled in and carefully tamped. The top surface is then smoothed with the edge of a trowel under considerable pressure, to get "shiny" appearance.

• After several months of hardening, the surface can be treated with a thin coat of hard wax polish, for greater durability and moisture resistance (however, the strong smell may be a problem).

• Instead of the last two layers of soil mix, wooden blocks can be laid and the joints carefully filled with the same mix.

• Alternatively, stabilized soil blocks, made with a block press (see ANNEX) can be used instead of timber blocks. However, the blocks must be well stabilized (eg with lime or cement) to resist abrasion and moisture penetration.

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