Earth Floors


  • Earth floors of various designs and applications can be found throughout history.
  • Locally earth floors were used by early settlers where timber could not be sourced or afforded.
  • Local vernacular architectures still use earth floors.


  • If well built can provide viable warmer alternative to concrete using local materials.
  • Earth floors provide excellent thermal comfort to building interiors.
  • Can be easily repaired.

Technical Information:

Ground slab construction:

  • Adobe bricks or cast clay slabs are laid on a thick bed of gravel.
  • Then various layers of earth, straw, dung and sometimes lime is used to screed over.
  • Normally sealed by burnishing with mix of beeswax and linseed oil, casein.
  • Good perimeter french drains are advised to divert all moisture.
  • Vulnerable in floods.
  • Easily damaged, but also easily and inexpensively repaired.

First Floor Construction:

  • There are many variations of this construction.
  • Typically a slab of clay straw is laid on criss-cross layers of reeds and bamboo or timber ceilings spanning between timber rafters.
  • Earth bricks can be used forming mini vaults between rafter supports.

Company track record and examples of work:

  • House Klipspringer Wild Rivers Estate, Hoedspruit, Mpumalanga, 2021
  • OR Tambo Narrative & Enviro Centre Leeupan, Johannesburg, 2010 - 2011
  • Mamre Info Centre Project, Mamre Western Cape, 2010, first floor construction.
  • House Davids, Zeekovlei, Cape Town, 2000

We offer a number of construction & info manuals on our website on natural building technologies which specifically refer to the South African context. The info manual "A LIME DUNG PLASTER RECIPE" has recently been added to the collection. Click here for more information.

All our manuals are also now available as E-Book downloads. Click here for the E-Books.