These are made of pure, clay rich earth reinforced with natural fibres such as wood shavings or shredded straw. They may be supplied with tongue and groove joints. As panels they are produced in dimensions up to 120 cm and are from 25 to 50 mm thick. Blocks are typically 10 cm thick and strong enough to use for internal partition walls.
Rammed earth floors are probably still the most common floor surface on earth. They are soft and reasonably warm. Prefabricated earth tiles and slabs reinforced with wood shavings can also be found. Their thickness is normally around 50 mm. All jointing is done with clay mortar. Earth floors need special treatment to be sufficiently durable and to avoid dust. There are many traditional techniques for this in different parts of the world. Linseed oil is widely used.
Earth-based surface materials entail minimal environmental impact during extraction, manufacture, use or recycling. The raw materials are abundant, and many types of earth can be used even though some are better than others. Because suitable earth can be found almost everywhere, transport related pollution and climate emissions should be unnecessary; earth is a local building product par excellence.
Once installed, earth products contribute positively to the indoor environment. Their durability is high, even if they are not as strong as some industrial materials. They are very flexible for change, repair and dismounting. Earth products can be directly recycled back to the earth.
Was this article helpful?