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Discussion Starter · #1 ·


When considering what material to use for a floor, few people look beyond a concrete slab, with something like tile or carpet as a finish. For us, however, there were several factors that made a stabilized compressed earth brick (SCEB) floor far more appealing, including cost, skill, and time required.

MATERIALS
Compressed Earth Blocks
Screened sand
Sealer – acrylic or oil based concrete sealer or varnish


TOOLS
Circular saw with masonry blade (optional)
2 levels, one small, one longer
Rubber mallet
2 boards to stand on. You do not want to stand on the sand as your feet will make large dents. If you stand on a board, your weight is spread out and the smooth surface of the sand is not compromised.
Surgical tape. The person laying the brick should consider taping their fingertips with surgical tape. This helps protect them without compromising dexterity.
Roller and brush


PREPARATION
Prepare and level your sub-floor, adding if you wish any vapor barrier, heating system, and insulation. Put a 1 inch layer of fine screened sand over the whole area. Compact and level the sand. The easiest way to do this is to bury and level a piece of square tubing in the sand on either side of the room, so that the top of the metal is flush with the level you want the sand to be.

You then bridge another piece of metal between the 2 pieces of square tubing, so that it sits on top of them, and drag it backwards and forwards over the area until it is smooth.

Choose your pattern before you start, and estimate the amount of bricks you will need. Running bond is often the easiest pattern to get your feet wet, but none of them are hard. The Herring bone can be difficult to visualize, but once you get going, it's not nearly at intimidating as it seems.


CUTTING BRICKS
No matter which pattern you decide to use, you will need some cut bricks. Try and work out roughly how many you will need for your starting edge and cut those ahead of time. The ones needed at the other end of your rows, you can do once the rest of the floor is laid. Cut the bricks using a circular saw with masonry blade. If you are not too particular about the edges of your cut bricks, it is far easier to break them instead of cutting.


LAYING THE FLOOR
Place each brick, one by one, where you want it to go.

With the long level, check it is level with previous bricks or existing floors. With the short level, make sure the brick itself is level in all directions. You also want to check that it is lined up well with the wall.

Use the rubber mallet to tap the brick tight against its neighbors. And tap down on it to get the level correct.

When you get to the opposite end of the wall from where you started, and you do not have a brick to fit in the space, leave it. You should do all the edge bricks at the end. Even before the floor is finished, you are able to walk on it. Do not tread near to unfinished edges.

For the edges, you may have to measure each space and cut or break bricks to fit. Alternatively, you can fill the gaps with a very fine concrete when you do the perimeter.


PERIMETER
Once you have all the bricks laid, you can fill the perimeter, in between the bricks and walls, with concrete. This does not use much concrete, and can be done in half an hour. Screen your sand and then trowel the concrete smooth and level with the tops of the bricks.


FILLING CRACKS
Once all your bricks, including your edge bricks, are in place, sweep fine sand into the cracks.

Allow the floor to settle a couple of days, and then sweep more sand into the cracks. Repeat this several times until the sand no longer settles.


SEALING
To seal the bricks so that you can sweep and mop them, use an acrylic or oil based concrete sealer or varnish, at least two coats. Until this is done, the bricks will be coated in a fine dust (as you gradually wear them down). This is okay for a patio or outside floor, but for inside it's not as acceptable.

Use a small can and/or brush to drip sealer in all the cracks first. Once that has set up, use a roller to spread the varnish on the brick surface.

The sealer will darken the natural color of the bricks. Most concrete sealers and varnishes smell strongly. Always provide adequate ventilation, and plan to keep those windows open for a few days.

Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/velacreations/sets/72157622051279853/

More Information: http://www.velacreations.com/cebfloors.html
 

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workin on it......
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I have a brick floor in my kitchen. It stays nice and cool in the summer. It's not too hard to keep clean. But do not drop anything on it! I can break Corelle dishes and even plastic melamine dishes on that sucker! LOL
 

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This may provide more mass than tile in an over wood installation for heat gain in passive solar retro-fits or second floor applications. I would not want to rely on just sand if real mortar was available. :thumb:
 

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Yeah im seeing this articleon about 10 sites. Theres no company to buy the bricks from that I can find. Obly companies that sell the brick maker. You need about eight people to make a brick. Any links to a place selling them? Im reafing a pdf about manufacturing them maybe a simpler setup there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
You can easily make these bricks with a manual machine. Look up Cinva RAM and CEB press. A neighbor of mine makes them himself, about 500 a day.

You don't have to use CEBs, though, use whatever is locally available and inexpensive. Used fired bricks? Clay bricks? pavers? lots of options. Find what you have locally, and use it.

Alternatively, make a manual press, and start pressing bricks!
 

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If you have concerns about using a sharp sand only bed, you can mix 5 parts plaster sand to 1 part Portland cement, only adding enough water to hydrate the cement, this must cure for 30 days and use a mortar to bond. Option2 would be to build a mortar bed somewhat identical to the fresh sand bed with the exception of 3 parts sand to 1 part Portland, but you fluff the mud a little higher than what you need, putting pure cement over it wetting it down and beating it into place.(i can not go into every single detail, that would turn into a volume of threads on it's own) What material was your premade screed, made of? The method you used is a very ancient method believe it or not. In the middle east, centuries ago a very similar technique was used to adorn places with mosaic tile floors.
 

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Using a Polymeric sand or Polymeric stone dust will lock in the bricks before sealing them. Getting the Poly sand wet activates the polymer which acts as a glue locking everthing in place.
 

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For a temporary or interim application the top sealant may be ok. ANYTHING PERMANENT should be grouted. Both set and joint. :xeye:
I have a similar floor in my house. Hand made bricks set directly on the ground. If I need to fix or add plumbing I can just dig it up. The earth acts as a thermal sink, keeping it cooler in summer and hotter in summer. I have a bad back that prevents me from standing on concrete for over 5 min. This floor with just compacted sand gives just like bare soil.

I did run plumbing for radiant heat, but never got around to setting it up.
 
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