Saturday, July 21, 2012

Floor schmoor

Ok ok so we are not so happy with our floor. It's not a failure, exactly, but it is a disappointment.. We had a vision of a luscious deep red brown smooth smooth earthen floor. We seem to have ended up with an insipidly brown, cracked thing called a floor. It is very cracked, which is far from unusual for an earthen floor. In fact many people make a feature of this and go for the flagstone look. This is not the look we were wanting, however it's the look we currently have. Check out that crazy stone paver look. Yeah, it's not so great. 

But we have a plan. We've patched the cracks with a lime/cement render (we seem to have A LOT of bags of cement/lime/clay left. Any takers?). And now we're gonna paint it. And yes it feels a little like cheating. Porters Paints have some very lovely low-VOC/No-VOC paints . We're quite taken by Sea Otter, though we think it's hilarious that there's a colour called Ox Blood. Almost like they're teasing us about our floor failure. 

We had thought that utilising the rammed earth approach would minimise cracking. We knew that our soil was a rich clay soil, perfect for floor-making however we were nervous about doing a poured earth floor on account of the length and unpredictability of the drying period. As we've mentioned we used the soil that had been dug from our top/future duck dam and given it had been sitting there for many weeks we figured it was probably quite dry. The Bega Valley has had very little rain for a few months now, actually the last big rain was the week of our straw bale building workshop in April. Oh the hilarity! Anyhoo we thought the clay would be fairly dry, however as soon as we got down below the surface we realised it was still very moist. Now this water holding capacity is a great thing, a truly great thing when it comes to our garden and orchard and general land productivity. But maybe, just maybe a rammed earth floor requires clay soil that is less moist. Our thinking is that less moist could equate to less unpredictability in the final outcome. It's ok. We have a year or two to further research, ponder, discuss and plan the earth floor for our next stage of building. It will be better next time. 

It's a little bit hard to admit this failure. To be honest, we have felt a little demoralised about it. Annie did so much research and we had such a clear vision about how beautiful our floor of earth was going to be. And it just hasn't worked out as we hoped. But it's fine. It's hard and dry and strong and we've not had any other major disappointments (or none that we can still remember) so we're just filing it away as a wonderful learning opportunity and trying to move on…

Because we've set ourselves a deadline. We will move in in two weeks. No more couch surfing for this family of four. However it's going to be rough and unfinished and probably a little crazy for awhile. 

So for now, things are a little heart-in-mouth busy, we're both suffering a little insomnia as we contemplate all that is to be done but still, it's all pretty good. 

We have beautiful Winter time vistas to admire, 
Wintery sun beachy adventures 
lovely old timbers to ogle
spiky critters to meet and
fun building adventures with friends
Oh yeah and we got a Landcare grant of a thousand native trees and plants to help establish a wildlife corridor in our area. Hurrah!

So floor schmoor, whether it ends up Sea Otter or Ox Blood it doesn't really matter. It's a teeny tiny house with a teeny tiny floor that we really enjoyed making but yes,  we will do better next time. 


  1. I'm so sorry it didn't turn out the way you'd planned. But I love that you've come up with a solution. Love Porters and love Sea Otter and Ox Blood. Either one will look gorgeous with your earthy little nest. So exciting that you'll be moving in very soon. How exciting!!!! xx

  2. I'm sorry it didn't work out, but I actually really like it (sorry), The solutions sounds great and in the end it doesn't really matter, you'll still have a lovely comfy home:)

  3. Hopefully one day you will look at those cracks and smile because you atleast had the courage to give it a go :-)

  4. Your house is lovely. You ARE women that do things well... that is clear from the rest of the house and this lovely blog.
    It's just that pioneers cover the rough country! (giddee up YEEEhaaah!)
    I think that the very good thing is that you chose to build small first, so your mistakes (an inevitable part of building) are made on a small and manageable level. That way, there is less financial stress and your mistakes are easy to rectify.
    I think you are both clever clogs!