Patios: Made of Rammed Earth Materials

Rammed earth materials are one of the first materials in other countries that are readily available for construction. When mixed with other natural materials, rammed earth can be a stable building resource. Building green means you have to include the resources you use to construct a home or outdoor feature like a patio. Rammed earth is a unique green material for your patio.

Rammed earth material is also used in walls which has a the extra benefit of heat retention, when the thick wall captures and stores solar energy. These walls are cold in summer and warm in winter which creates a perfect indoor environment.

Rammed earth materials became widely known in the US during the Depression, and they are earning recognition again because on the building green campaign. Adobe has always been popular as a rammed earth material in the Southwest part of the US. The same techniques are used in Australia where they are building walls, wine cellars and patio floors.

Rammed Earth Floor - How is it Constructed?

A floor made of rammed earth is not dusty because once it is installed properly it is coated with a sealer like linseed oil or a blend of oils. The floor is easy to maintain by sweeping or mapping because of the coating, it is made like tile or wood floor.

Rammed earth floors are mixed with clay-based soil, sand, water and chopped straw and put linseed oil on top. It is suggested that you may have to repair the floor every few years with its native clay material and then reseal with oil. In the past, people from different countries use different forms of sealer. For example, in rural Japan, people used bath water containing oils from their skin, Indian cultures used ghee (clarified butter) and Southwest Americans have used oxblood mixed with dirt for a durable surface.

The Benefits of Rammed Earth Material

There are many benefits to building a rammed earth patio.

1. Rammed earth can be found anywhere locally and this can give you more opportunity to build green. It is composed 100% of natural materials from the land it is built on, and doesn't create harmful toxins when it burns. It is almost as strong as concrete but not as hard when you drop things on the ground.

2. Virtually any finish you would expect to find for concrete or brick can be applied to rammed earth patio flooring. Making tile or slabs out of rammed earth requires forms for shaping using either a hand-operated compactor or a mechanical one. Any natural color can be used for rammed earth installations, and even designer colors can be found. You can expect rammed earth floors to feel more like leather than concrete, and be just as easy to dent and scratch as a wood floor.

The only difficulty that you might experinece when installing a rammed earth floor is finding a professional to help you. When you want to install it by yourself, do your own research first and ask an expert online if you can't find help in the neighborhood.

Tina Gleisner, founder of the Association of Women Home Owners connects homeowners with concepts, terminology and advice to build homes that support today's lifestyles. Through the library and directory at, you can LEARN more about how to maintain and repair your home and more.


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