The Doma - Part 2
Once the mix was finally mixed and spread out on the floor-to-be, the next order of business was compacting it into something that would function as a floor - we'd like it to be hard, relatively flat and not too easily scuffed. This we are still working on - we have achieved solidity, a fair amount of rigidity and enough flatness that we expect not to fall over while trying walk on it, but the hope of a floor not too easily scuffed has yet to be realized. We are considering treating it with boiled linseed oil and then waxing it.
Step 1 in compacting the floor was to spread the mix fairly evenly around the edges, and in our case, to pile lots in the middle because the old floor was quite worn down. We then walked on it a great deal, to change it from a layer of fluffy earth to a more compact state, with the clay in the soil beginning to come together into one cohesive mass.
Step 2 was to bring out the mechanical compactor. A really really heavy machine. It took both of us to move it. Shuzo got the task of pushing and pulling this monster around the floor, and he quickly discovered that once it was turned on, you CAN'T STOP! If the machine pauses over one section of the floor, the clayey earth sticks to the bottom of the machine and the beautiful floor-in-progress gets ripped up. After several rounds with the machine, each leaving him out of breath and covered in sweat, he had smoothed much of the floor, though the machine can't get into the corners or edges very well, and there were a few low spots where the machine hadn't had much effect.
Step 3 involved further physical challenges, as we had to tamper the sections of the floor that the machine hadn't been able to do. We used a variety of tamperers (tamps? tampers?) - a post with handles attached, a smaller bit of post with handles attached, a plastering trowel, a plastering hawk, Sara's flip-flops, a gloved hand and the wooded mallet, among others. This was exhausting.
Step 4 will depend upon what the floor looks and feels like when it is dry. We will probably try sealing it with boiled linseed oil, but are not entirely certain because our mix contains lime and the calcium salts, whereas the recipe that accompanies the advice about linseed oil does not have either of those ingredients. Decisions, decisions.
Is is any wonder that at nearly 9 in the morning we are both still sitting in front of our computers? That project was exhausting! Let's hope the replacement of the back roof, scheduled to begin next week, is a bit kinder to us.