You might be able to buy a strawbale house or build a cob house on a budget of $4,000 like the woman from the UK did in Turkey but if your walls and roof manages to last the winter, you have to know how your floor will stand up. There are plenty of ways that earth-minded people build flooring to stand the test of time. Choosing your best options for the most part might really depend on where you live. Think about the weather that might creep in or creatures that you want to keep out. Laminate or upcycled wood? certified sustainably harvested wood?
Grounding out your floor
A new-old trend among seasoned earth lovers is grounding. Meaning they build their homes and flooring with as few layers to the earth as possible. If you live in a temperate climate that doesn’t get too damp or too cold you might be able to get away with a rammed earth or even a simple dirt floor. The benefits is that feel-good earthy vibe when you are making your coffee in the morning, keeping your toes touching the earth. Another benefit is that it doesn’t and will never look like black polished marble. So keeping it clean isn’t really that important.
If you can’t go all out with an earth floor another option for moderate climates is wooden floorboards like a deck above the earth. Depending on the width of the slats, you can let air or the outside in. I built a low cost studio in my backyard with this option and because it was for a pottery studio that I have to keep dust free, I needed a solution that could take a lot of water. So on one hand I have a simple wooden “deck” floor for my studio which sits on cement stilts (no foundation, leave no trace behind), I needed to go for a low cost solution to keep the floor dust- free, so we chose a roll of linoleum.
Clearance or end of line flooring
There are all finds of low cost solutions if you are like the No Money Man from the UK (keeping it simple and real), but for those with more means you might be able to afford plastic tiling made from ocean waste or other upcycled materials. A floor with a story, imagine that? One company we came across with endless ideas and pictures (like looking at Houzz for hours!) is this one selling all sorts of clearance flooring. Companies that sell end of line materials or upcycle raw materials that get left behind at the end of a production run get big points in our books. Think Reformation but for floors!
Another flooring solution made famous by artisans in the Middle East is carpeting. No matter how old and ugly or worn down your floor might look a few good carpets can save the day. Carpets woven in the Middle East like in places like Turkey or Uzbekistan not only last forever and look better with use, you actually help women (most of the weavers) earn a decent and stable income and you keep an ancient craft alive. Make sure you buy your carpet from a reputable seller. I have met people in Turkey as carpet tourists — just around those parts to buy carpets.
A more affordable option if you can’t buy a lifetime-use wool carpet is to buy an upcycled carpet. Sewn together and then redyed, they look like a million dollars and are still in fashion.
This totally weird carpet by designers in Israel looks like stones and it also gives you a massage when you walk over it.