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.
Once dried, the flooring can be polished and sealed with natural oil or wax to enhance its durability and longevity. Mud flooring has many advantages, including its low cost, natural composition, and ability to regulate indoor temperature and humidity.
It is also a renewable resource that can be easily repaired and maintained. However, it is not as durable as other flooring options, and it may require periodic maintenance and repair to prevent cracking and wear.
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 into 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 materialisms and let us have a look at their basic concept.
Some Interesting Facts about Mud Floor
India, the third-largest country in the world 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, 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.
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 has 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 is 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 the 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 leveled, 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 mud houses.
What is Flooring?
flooring, in simple words, means to provide a permanent cover to the floor by laying tiles or other materials.
Flooring provides a clean, smooth, and leveled surface for the people residing in the house to walk upon.
Types of Flooring
There are many types of Flooring nowadays. Some of these are listed down below:
- Mud flooring
- Murram flooring
- Brick flooring
- Flagstone flooring
- Hardwood flooring
- Timber flooring
- Linoleum flooring
- Granolithic flooring
- Cork flooring
- Laminate flooring
- Asphalt flooring
- Stone flooring
- Cement Concrete Flooring
- Vinyl flooring
- Natural tiled flooring
- Artificial tiled flooring (Vitrified Tile Flooring)
- Terrazzo flooring
- Mosaic flooring
- 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.
- Preservation of the environment is in full swing at the present time. While banning plastic, and reducing carbon emissions are nowadays paid great importance, mud houses is supplementing this requirement for quite a long time now…
- When the house is demolished or better broken down, the mud can be re-used and can be one with nature easily.
- 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 reusable materials reduces the load on the planet by reducing pollution.
4. Carbon Foot Printing
- Mud reduces carbon footprinting, unlike cement which is a major component of modern construction.
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 labors
- It reduces carbon footprints
- It gives back some amount of nature to nature while dusting in everyday life
Disadvantages of Mud Flooring
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
- Plant juices
- Cow dung
- Animal urine
- Oil, etc
The 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:
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
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 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 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.
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
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 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.
In conclusion, mud flooring is a traditional flooring material that has been used for centuries in many parts of the world.
It is made from natural materials, such as clay, sand, and straw, which make it an eco-friendly and sustainable option for flooring.
Mud flooring has many benefits, such as its ability to regulate temperature and humidity, its durability and resistance to pests, and its low cost and easy maintenance.
Despite its advantages, mud flooring may not be suitable for every environment or lifestyle. It may not be ideal in areas with high moisture levels or heavy foot traffic, as it can become slippery and require frequent upkeep. Additionally, it may not meet modern aesthetic standards or building codes in some regions.
Overall, mud flooring can be a viable flooring option for those who appreciate its rustic charm and eco-friendliness.
However, it is important to consider the practicality and suitability of mud flooring for your particular needs and circumstances before choosing it as a flooring material.
What is a mud flooring?
Mud flooring, also known as earthen flooring, is a traditional type of flooring made by mixing natural materials such as clay, sand, and water to create a durable and eco-friendly surface.
Can mud flooring be used in all areas of a house?
While mud flooring can be used in various areas of a house, it is commonly found in spaces such as verandas, courtyards, eco-friendly homes, or in regions where it is part of the local building tradition.
Can I add color or patterns to a mud floor?
Yes, it is possible to add color or create patterns on a mud floor by incorporating natural pigments or using techniques like stamping or etching before the mud dries. However, it’s important to consider the compatibility of the added materials with the mud mixture and ensure they do not compromise the durability of the floor.
How do I maintain a mud floor?
To maintain a mud floor, regularly sweep or vacuum to remove dust and debris. Avoid using harsh cleaning agents or excessive water when cleaning, as they can erode the mud surface. Instead, use a damp mop or cloth with mild soap or natural cleaning solutions specifically suitable for mud flooring.
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