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

Mud Flooring | Mud Floor | Disadvantages of Mud Flooring | Mud Flooring Materials12 min read

What Is Mud Flooring?

Mud flooring is one of the types of flooring. When our ancestors shifted to building homes, they first started off with building mud houses. Even when they started to build houses with bamboo strips, the flooring type was still mud flooring.

At present, mud flooring is the cheapest flooring option available.

Carbon Foot Printing of Cement

With the usage of cement in abundance at present, is it necessary to modify the cement or look for its alternative?

Let us have a look at the following stats:

The cement industry generates around 8 % of the total carbon emissions in the entire world. If the cement industry may comprise a country, then it would be the third-largest country emitting carbon emissions only beyond China and the United States.

China emits 3.3 billion tonnes of carbon emissions while the United States comes to the second position in terms of carbon emission. And the cement industry emits 2.8 billion tonnes of carbon in the atmosphere.

Now, the alarming effects of carbon are not to be said more, right?

The houses our ancestors resided in, i.e. mud houses were eco-friendly material and let us have a look at its basic concept.

Some Interesting Facts of Mud Floor

Mud for Mud Flooring
Mud for Mud Flooring

India, the third-largest country in the world as per area and second-largest in terms of population, has a total of about 118 million houses. Out of these, around 65 million are still mud houses as per a survey conducted about a year back.

Surprising, isn’t it? that a whopping 50 % of the houses are still having mud flooring or murram flooring or what you may call ‘non-concrete homes’?!

While it is true that this ratio is because of the financial condition of the people, but there are still some who prefer mud flooring which has led to its development to form a more durable flooring option too. Though it has not become so popular.

Mud Flooring- An Outdated Option?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

Reading the title, you may feel like mud flooring is an outdated option.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.

Mud Flooring | Mud Floor | Disadvantages of Mud Flooring | Mud Flooring Materials

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.

Why Should You Know What Mud Flooring Is?

Mud flooring is one of the most ancient floorings that was adapted by our predecessors. With the advent of technology, mud flooring has become almost obsolete and tile or concrete flooring have replaced it.

Nowadays, when we have to think about flooring, the very first thing that we mostly look for is the aesthetic look of the material. But, should we really be concerned about that and take it as a primary factor for deciding the flooring type?

Another major factor that looked after is its price. And it is important so that the budget is not exceeded.

You should focus on another factor while purchasing tiles and answer to this is “why flooring is done?”

To know this, let us look at the fact that why flooring came into existence in the first place.

The flooring was provided for comfort- so that people can walk over it with ease. As the surface is levelled, the protuberances are gone and a smooth surface is obtained. Also, laying a layer over the floor makes it durable.

All these led to the development of flooring and mud flooring was initially adapted for the mud houses.

What is Flooring?

flooring, in simple words, means to provide a permanent cover to the floor by laying tiles or other material.

Flooring provides a clean, smooth and levelled surface for the people residing in the house to walk upon.

Types of Flooring:

There are many Types of Flooring nowadays. Some of which are listed down below:

  1. Mud flooring
  2. Murram flooring
  3. Brick flooring
  4. Flagstone flooring
  5. Hardwood flooring
  6. Timber flooring
  7. Linoleum flooring
  8. Granolithic flooring
  9. Cork flooring
  10. Laminate flooring
  11. Asphalt flooring
  12. Stone flooring
  13. Cement Concrete flooring
  14. Vinyl flooring
  15. Natural tiled flooring
  16. Artificial tiled flooring (Vitrified Tile Flooring)
  17. Terrazzo flooring
  18. Mosaic flooring
  19. Marble flooring

Every flooring has its unique characteristics, laying method, pros and cons.

Few Basic Things to Know About Mud Flooring

Here are a few points that one should know to get an overview of Mud Flooring Details-

Characteristics of Mud Flooring

Some of the basic characteristics of the mud used for mud flooring are discussed below as mud flooring has a major component of mud-

1. Natural Insulation

  • Mud flooring has insulation property naturally. Because of this property, they are able to maintain a uniform temperature, i.e. they keep the atmosphere warm in winter and cool in summer.
  • The moderate temperature of the house is because of the fact that the house has pores. These pores make the mus house breathable. The breeze can come in and out of the house through these pores which helps in maintaining the temperature.

This makes them an ideal choice in tropical countries where temperatures are extreme.

2. Recyclability

  • Preservation of the environment is in full swing in the present time. While banning the plastic, reducing carbon emissions are nowadays paid great importance, mud house is supplementing this requirement for quite a long time now…
  • When the house is demolished or better broke down, the mud can be re-used and can be one with nature easily.

3. Biodegradability

  • In the present age, non-biodegradable materials posing a problem for the environment like plastic, copper, metals, and many others are used extensively as if they have become a part of our life.
  • And the construction industry uses such materials in huge quantities. These materials take a long time to decompose and go back to the environment. Leaving lumps of such ‘waste’ for our future generations is not something we should do.
  • Using materials like mud and other recyclable and re-usable materials reduces the load on the planet by reducing pollution.

4. Carbon Foot Printing

  • Mud reduces the carbon footprinting, unlike cement which is a major component of modern constructions.

Advantages of Mud Flooring

  • 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 labours
  • It reducing carbon footprints
  • It gives back some amount of nature to nature while dusting in everyday life

Disadvantages of Mud Flooring

The following are disadvantages of mud floor,

  • 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

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 are 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 resembling aggregates to cement.
  • Cow manure
  • Straw: Chopped and sifted straw is added to the mud prepared for the flooring to prevent the 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 the shrinkage.

Commonly used stabilizers comprise

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

Procedure of Mud Flooring

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:

Mud Flooring | Mud Floor | Disadvantages of Mud Flooring | Mud Flooring Materials
Laying of mud Flooring

1. Selection of Materials:

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

Mud should be fine grained and devoid of gravels or even coarse sand. The mud is kept soaked in the water for about a week before laying 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 centimetre 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 millimetres.

This imparts flooring the 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 stabilisers.

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 centimetre 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 levelled 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 centimetres.

While temping, 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 type of patterns or textures can also be formed on the surface while finishing.

8. 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.

Mud Flooring | Mud Floor | Disadvantages of Mud Flooring | Mud Flooring Materials
Cracks in Mud Flooring Upon Drying if NOT Properly Cured

Maintenance of Mud Flooring:

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 in 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 | Mud Floor | Disadvantages of Mud Flooring | Mud Flooring Materials
Finishing of Mud Flooring

Modifications to Mud Flooring:

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

1. Murram Flooring:

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:

As the 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.

Image Courtesy: Image1, Image2, Image3, Image4e, Image5

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