Earthen Floor Standard Aims to Promote Sustainability, Improve Health

A proposed standard for earthen floors could help promote sustainability and improve health in the developing world.

Earthen floors can be found around the world, where they’ve been used as natural and affordable options for hundreds of years.

Some floors today use a tamped base layer of materials (such as laterite or caliche) and are topped with a mixture of fine sand and clay. Then, crucially, they are sealed with natural oils such as linseed or flax.

For some, this approach is attractive because it means a move toward greater sustainability. For others, it’s the do-it-yourself aspect that holds appeal. And for some of the world’s poorest, a well-built earthen floor — the subject of an ASTM International guide now underway — means a healthier alternative to plain, unstabilized earth.

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