This is the start of the West Sunroom floor.
Since the floor in our home starts with the ground we decided when we were preparing the footings ( for our walls ) that we would come up from the ground roughly 12 inches to where the height of the floors will be . We start this by layering 3 different size of rocks starting the the biggest to the smallest. What you see above is the third layer of rock starting out. All of the rocks are from all of the sifting done on our property. We use the sifted clay to pack into our plastic bottles, use in earthen cement, in making papercrete, packing mud between the tires and also to use the clay that ends up becoming the subfloor of each room. Just about everything that we do for the earthship involves all different sizes of rock and sifted dirt. We will basically live in a home of recycled materials and earth.
Once this small rock is completed we will compact it down and add another layer of fine rock before the sifted clay dirt goes on top for the subfloor. We have decided so far to put in a combination of brick (with a design in the floor) and earthen cement to fill in-between.
Back Hallway Floor
We have been working on the back hallway floor now for the past several months. The motivating factor to get this done instead of finishing the exterior was because we needed the partial floor done to get the battery box in place and solar power in the Earthship. Walking in and out of a room that has part of the floor done was starting to be a pain. We were starting to stumble on the floor drain and the ground steaks holding the forms in place.
We decided to put in a glass bottle border in place and that is what is in the making in the next few photos.
We feel that the back hallway is our experimenting station. By the time we get everything figured out with the back room we will have gained the skills to make the main living areas looking great. We are not as concerned about this back hallway. So making mistakes is not a big deal here. It is nice to have a room to learn with since the Severin Family has never done this kind of project before. We all need to learn how to create the desired effect that we want.
The floors that we poured in these photos are a stronger earthen cement. This is so the floor will hold up to the weight of the battery box for our solar and wind system. We used a mixture of water, cement, sand, clay and aggregate. One thing you need to remember when building an Earthship, before you start the next sigmate of the project always ask, Do we need pipes or electrical conduit put in first? If you do forget this you will have a very difficult time fixing anything without it costing you a lot in money and time. This back hallway is not only for our electric and water supply it is for our washing machine, sink, and freezer also.
For around the bottles we used a earthen mortar. It is basically a earthen cement floor with out the aggregate. The bottle border is cool looking but was a lot of work pouring in the mud and packing in between the bottles.
The middle part of the floor is a softer earthen cement. We used 1/2 of the amount of the cement than what we used for the other floors. This floor did dry hard but is much softer. When the floor was drying a couple of cracks did show up. Allen was able to smooth those away with a wet sponge. When thinking about why did the floor cracked there and not any where else, we came up with an idea. For the rest of the floor Allen sprayed water on the subfloor before pouring in the floor. Allen did not do this in the last part of the floor. Because the subfloor was made up of clay. The clay was sticking to his boots a lot. So he didn't add the water to the subfloor. We believe the floor dried too fast in that area thus making it crack. From now on we will spray water on the floor before pouring in the rest of the floors to help in preventing cracking. This is why we call it the experimental room. It is our place to learn from.
The whole room will need to be sealed with a water proofing sealant. We are not sure if we will use natural oils or a cement sealant yet.
At the moment we store lots of stuff in here and we walk back in this hallway a lot. We will see how the floor holds up to the amount of traffic and wear of the floor.
Now for the Pipes
Like I said earlier we sift a lot of dirt and sort out the different size of rock. I asked Allen just the other day where he would like me to dump the rock that I have sorted out so it can be used for the floor in the Earthship later. His response was," Why move the rock 3 times?" So we have decided that rock will be going into the Earthship as it is sifted out. Because of this decision. We have to put in our pipes that need to go into the ground before we start piling rock all over the place.
The pipe below is for the drain water from the washing machine and laundry sink to the greenhouse planter. Again I will stress that thinking ahead is the name of the game for when building an Earthship. We had to have planned where the pipes where going to go before we poured the footings for the walls last year. Some of the pipes needed to be place within the footing or underneath them.
The next image shows the pipe that goes through the footing to hook into the pipe on the other side of the bottle wall.
This is the other end of that pipe that goes underneath the footing into the greenhouse.
This will be on the west end of the planter that will go towards the east to the pit. Our home will reuse the water 3 times before it goes out to the septic tank. #1 is the collection of rain water stored in the cisterns, #2 is using the water for showering, laundry, etc, #3 is to use it for the toilet. By the time the water passes through the 5 planters that we will have in our Earthship the plants will have cleaned the water that will be great for using in the toilet.
This pipe has been tested and does drain like it should with no leaks. Not to bad for rookies that haven't had any professional training in this craft.
We are hooking up the bathroom sink to the shower. The pipe T that you see near the bottle wall is approximately where the sink will go. The big pipe that looks like it is underneath the drain pipe ( it is off to the side ) is the septic pipe for the toilet. The septic pipe was placed last year and goes underneath the footing and underneath the greenhouse tire wall as well.
After putting the pipe together we discovered the pipe in the footing (off to the left) that was placed for the sink and shower was not low enough. By right it should of gone underneath the footing. Because of the long span of the pipe and it all needs to go down hill, we will have to make a step up into the shower.
The flat top of the shower drain is the height of the floor just within the shower. All of the pipe will be within the floor it's self.
The bricks are just laying out the pattern for the shower. Where you see the double brick is how thick the wall will be for about 3 feet or so. This is 8 inches all around. The Gatorade bottles that are on the left side will be used to bring up the wall to approximately 2 to 3 feet of height using a cement mortar to secure them in place. Then we plan on cutting down the thickness of the wall to 4 inches giving us a ledge to put our feet up on and for setting soap and shampoo on. We will use glass bottles for the 4 inch wall up to the ceiling. The shower will be approximately 5 feet in diameter.
Stay tuned. More to come soon.
Mary Severin writes about her families embarkment on a learning adventure to build an Upcycled Home using Earthship Principals. To find out what these Principals are click on the Earthship Principals link above.