Mud Flooring- Characteristics, Materials, Procedure, Pros & Cons

What Is a Mud Flooring | Mud Floor House

What Is a Mud Flooring?

Mud flooring is a type of flooring made from a mixture of mud, sand, and clay that is commonly used in rural areas or in eco-friendly construction. It is a traditional flooring option that has been used for centuries and has become popular in recent years due to its affordability, sustainability, and aesthetic appeal.

The mixture is typically laid onto a compacted base, such as gravel or stones, and then leveled and smoothed with a trowel. The flooring is then left to dry and harden naturally, which can take several days to several weeks, depending on the weather conditions.

Mud Floor in House

Laying of mud Floor
Mud Flooring in House

Mud Flooring Construction Details are included here. The laying of mud flooring is quite simple. Let us look at the process of laying the mud floor in a step-by-step manner:

1. Selection of Materials

Good quality cement and mud are selected. The mud used for the flooring must be clean and should possess enough tensile and shear strength.

Mud should be fine-grained and devoid of gravel or even coarse sand. The mud is kept soaked in the water for about a week before laying on the floor.

2. Preparation of the Bed

Sprinkle water over the floor. Thus, the bed is prepared by wetting the floor.

A hardcore stone or rubble layer is laid down for a 15 to 25-centimeter thickness when the bed is prepared for the first time. Then, the floor is rammed sufficiently so as to obtain a consolidated thickness of about 150 millimeters.

This imparts flooring strength to prevent dampness and rodents from making holes.  It also prevents underground settlement and thus avoids the flooring from getting deteriorated.

3. Stabilizing the Materials

Constructing a mud house in recent times does not mean just spreading the mud and cement and you are done!

The characteristics of mud are enhanced by the addition of stabilizers.

Stabilised Compressed Interlocking Earth Block (SCEB)- Let us take an example of cement. About 5 % of cement is added to the local mud. Then compression is done and the final product achieves water resistance and even structural strength too.

4. Mixing of Materials

In the mud, the chopped and sifted straw is added. Water is also added to it and mixed it well so that a consistent mix is obtained.

Straws prevent the surface from forming cracks upon drying.

5. Laying of The Mud Paste

The paste of mud and other materials mixed before is laid on the prepared bed in a 10-inch or 25-centimeter thick layer.

The mud floor should be laid in a single unjointed layer. If joints or panels are allowed to form, the mud floor deteriorates, unlike concrete.

6. Compaction of the Surface

After laying the mud paste on the prepared bed, compaction is done to obtain a leveled surface.

To compact the surface, it is rammed thoroughly without using any water. Wooden tools are used to ram the surface.

Compaction is done to a thickness of 6 inches or 15 centimeters.

While tempting, it is noted that the marks of the instrument are to be removed. The surface is tried to make even. If an indentation is found in the floor while tamping, the surface is filled with the mud mixture while from the lifted part, the mixture is removed.

7. Finishing of the Surface

This is an optional step. Sometimes, a finishing layer called cow dung wash is also applied to the top of the laid floor.

For this, cow dung and clay are mixed into a thin paste and applied to the compacted floor in a thin layer.

Some particular types of patterns or textures can also be formed on the surface while finishing.

8. Curing of the Surface

Cracks in Mud Flooring Upon Drying if NOT Properly Cured
Curing of the Surface

The floor should not be allowed to dry rapidly. Hence, water is sprinkled at regular and frequent intervals to keep the moisture uniformly distributed over the thickness of the layer.

If the curing step is missed out, then the floor tends to develop cracks.

Maintenance of Mud Floor

Maintenance of Mud Flooring
Maintenance of Mud Floor

Periodic maintenance is required regularly for the mud flooring.

A mixture of cow dung with clay or cement is prepared and water is added so that it achieves thin consistency. When cement is added, the proportion taken is as follows- cement: cow dung = 1:4. The mixture is to be applied once a week.

Sometimes, the ratio of 1:2 is also used. It depends on the soil type and usage too. Similarly, the frequency of applying the wash is increased to twice a week also to suit the requirement.

Mud Flooring- An Outdated Option? Or Not?!!

Mud Flooring
What Is a Mud Flooring | Mud Floor House 9

Reading the title, you may feel like mud flooring is an outdated option. So what is the need of studying it? Living in cities and megacities, you may not be able to know about mud flooring, but it is still used in remote areas.

But that is not the point. The point is why we should have a basic idea about mud flooring. Let us know first why we should have a primary understanding of what is mud flooring.

Advantages of Mud Floor

  • It is easy to construct
  • Its materials are available easily in the nearby place
  • It is cheaper than most of the present flooring techniques prevalent
  • It is available locally; avoiding the transportation cost
  • Its construction is simple
  • Its maintenance is easy and cheap
  • It is hard and quite impervious
  • It is a natural type of flooring and is thus eco-friendly
  • It is good for health: PVC emits volatiles; vitrified tiles are considered to cause stress on joints resulting in pain in joints and stuck knees.
  • Its fire resistance coefficient is more than PVC flooring
  • Its construction does not require skilled labors
  • It reduces carbon footprints
  • It gives back some amount of nature to nature while dusting in everyday life

Disadvantages of Mud Floor

The following are the disadvantages of mud floors,

  • It is less durable as compared to other types of flooring
  • It needs to be applied coating in a week or two
  • Its smoothness is much less as compared to PVC or ceramic tile flooring
  • Its moisture resistance is much low. As it is less resistant to moisture, bacteria may breed over the flooring surface and may pose hygiene problems
  • It shows dents on the surface if loaded above a certain limit. Thus, its loading capacity is less
  • Its porosity is high
  • It is not resistant to stains
  • It gets weathered by even simple activities like moving furniture from one place to another

Mud Flooring Materials

The following are the basic materials required to construct mud flooring-

  • Clay/Mud: It is the primary material for mud flooring. Murram, red soil, or yellow soil is suitable to be used as clay for mud. Black cotton soil cannot be used as it forms cracks upon drying. Sometimes, the soil is pulverized too to achieve the required quality of the soil.
  • Stiffed sand: It is added to provide strength to the mud. It may be considered to resemble aggregates to cement.
  • Cow manure
  • Straw: Chopped and sifted straw is added to the mud prepared for the flooring to prevent drying cracks. Mostly paddy straw is used.
  • Stabilizers (Optional, but recommended)

If the clay is not suitable for construction, then its properties are modified by adding stabilizers. It increases the tensile and shear strength of the mud flooring. It also helps in reducing shrinkage.

Commonly used stabilizers comprise

  • Cement
  • Straw
  • Plant juices
  • Molasses
  • Cow dung
  • Animal urine
  • Oil, etc

Modifications to Flooring Made From Mud

Every innovation comes from removing the defects from the existing system or adding extra characteristics to it.

1. Murram Flooring

Murram Flooring
What Is a Mud Flooring | Mud Floor House 10

After mud flooring, murram flooring came into place. Murram is a disintegrated rock of any type.

Great care is exercised in the laying of a murram floor, unlike mud flooring.

Even the murram flooring maintains the temperature and thus offers insulation properties. With proper maintenance, its life can be reasonably increased.

2. Brick Flooring

Brick Flooring
What Is a Mud Flooring | Mud Floor House 11

As bricks were invented, brick flooring also gained popularity at one time. Bricks are laid flat right-angled to the wall or arranged in a herring fashion. It is quite hard and durable. However, even brick flooring absorbs some amount of moisture.

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