What is Earthen Flooring?
Earthen Floors are made by compressing different layers of natural materials tightly down, and sealing it off to make it waterproof using a layer of oil. Earthen floors are becoming more and more popular, especially on the West Coast of the United States, because they are natural, great for the environment, easy to clean and maintain and can be truly gorgeous, helping to transform a home.
Why couldn’t these floors come to Rwanda to replace dirt for those who need it most?
Using techniques to refine, separate and utilize the dirt already in Rwanda means that these floors can be produced cheaply and at scale. Across the world, earthen floors utilize locally-sourced clay, sand, fiber and plant oils. However, earthen floors in the United States and Europe typically use a linseed oil sealant, which is incredibly expensive. In order to bring affordable earthen floors to Rwanda, the team at EarthEnable had to innovate.
With the help of chemistry PhD Rick Zuzow from Stanford University, a new oil was created which could seal the floors properly and safely at a cost of 90% less than linseed oil. With the new oil in hand, these floors became extremely affordable and our mission to eliminate dirt floors in Rwanda more achievable than ever.
Layer 1: Gravel or Laterite
Gravel or laterite is used to drain the floor (and to keep water from seeping up from under the floor and affecting the earthen mix) and also to level it out.
Layer 2: Fine Earthen Mix
This is fine sand and clay that has been sieved, which is burnished to form an incredibly smooth and beautiful top layer. Made of the same earthen materials, it binds with the coarse laterite
Layer 3: Oil
The oil permeates the fine earthen mix and forms a waterproof and plastic-like resin on top. This is also the layer that gives the floor its shine, makes it easy to clean and incredibly durable.
Sadly, our work is never done. We need your help to continue funding our research and development into this process so that we are able to make our floors even more affordable to those most in need.