Soil cement question


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Old 12-13-20, 11:07 AM
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Soil cement question

I think Im going to try doing a soil cement floor in my barn. I'm going to try a small area and see how it turns out. From what I can find online you put about half inch portland cement on top of the dirt and then till it in while you spray it with some water. My question is can I just use a hand tamper to pack it down and is there any other steps that I'm missing. my floor right now is some kind of mixture of loose dirt and stone.
 
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Old 12-13-20, 12:00 PM
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It really depends on what sort of soil you're starting with.
Many times, clay, quarry screenings or grit, and some quicklime will work as well.
Either a normal rototiller or a smaller "mantis" tiller should work.

Example of BBC recreation of an early 1900s packed clay floor-
https://youtu.be/IzHRANWKvuU?t=3250
 
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Old 12-13-20, 12:15 PM
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Sounds like a mess, just get 3-4 inches of crushed limestone, rake it out, compact and wet, super solid!
 
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Old 12-13-20, 12:29 PM
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Sounds like a mess, just get 3-4 inches of crushed limestone, rake it out, compact and wet, super solid!
Believe me, screenings + stone dust wit a bit of slaked lime sets up really nice.
 
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Old 12-13-20, 01:14 PM
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Cement powder is made mostly from limestone. However, never use crushed limstone as concrete aggregate if you want it to last!

Limestone effervesces with water because water breaks down the bonds within the limestone breaking everything to ratsh*t in a few years! This is the reason that, in limestone geographical areas, you see asphaltic surfaces all broken up within a few years of paving!

Do yourself a favor - get some pre-mixed concrete mix or get some good alluvial crushed or granitic aggregate and mix with cement powder and water. Then you will have a good job that will last for many years. If you reinforce it with steel mesh, that will be even better to help prevent cracking, especially in thinner slabs.

Best of luck.
 
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Old 12-13-20, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by quickcurrent
If you reinforce it with steel mesh, that will be even better to help prevent cracking, especially in thinner slabs.
Well, this is what I've done for my dirt floor garage-

A) dig out around 2" of dirt (clay in my case) set aside to dry.
B) backfill with clean crushed stone for drainage.
C) add a layer of geotextile e.g. Tyvek- cheaper option is use old nylon backed wall-to-wall carpet,
D) add bands of steel reinforcing mesh, turn the edges down so they punch through the carpet and into the gravel.
E) I happen to have a small cement mixer, - toss equal parts stone screengings, clay, lime and cement in a mixer, make a slurry, (mashed potatoes, not pancake batter).
Wet the carpet and then pour out, making sure to get the mix into the piling of the carpet.

When it dries, you have a "packed" dirt surface, similar to a pitcher's mound.

 
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Old 12-13-20, 05:23 PM
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Screenings are essentially rejected small particles screened out from crushed limestone. Some people think they pack well, and they do, especially with a bit of moisture, but within a short time they turn to muck when exposed to water! Limestone breaking down, when water gets at it, is the reason that we have so many potholes in our roads (combined with harsh temperature fluctuations). Clay is essentially limestone before it has compacted to become limestone over long periods of time. Both are materials that should really never be used in construction of any kind, save for the manufacture of cement powder.

Having said that, if you have a well drained base (either an elevated floor relative to surrounding ground or some sort of ditch around the barn floor to drain away rain water so it does not get at your floor, you may be OK with the cement powder hardening the mash you are putting together. The steel mesh will help to reinforce the floor, but, if water gets at it, the mesh will rust out, the water will react with the limestone products and you'll have a mess. Geotextile is woven differently than carpeting to be effective - its job is typically to prevent soil fine particles from contaminating coarser particles, or to filter water through it while keeping fine particles out; the weave density is different for each application.

The over riding important factor, though, is to keep water away from the finished floor, now that you are in the process of doing what you are doing.

Best of luck.
 
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Old 12-13-20, 05:32 PM
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Cement and dirt + mixing on the ground = worst idea ever, IMO.
 
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Old 12-13-20, 06:17 PM
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Originally Posted by quickcurrent
Screenings are essentially rejected small particles screened out from crushed limestone.
Nope. Screenings are the small jagged fragments that result from crushing rock.
Along the East Coast of the US, in order of hardness, you'll get Triassic rocks (diabase, hornfels, blue shale, sandstone, limestone, and red shale) then Paleozoic schist.
IF you crush diabase (black granite) you get screenings which will last a thousand years.
IF you crush limestone, or red shale, the screenings dissolve into mud in about 5 years.
Entirely depends on which quarry you get the stone from.

Originally Posted by XSleeper
Cement and dirt + mixing on the ground = worst idea ever, IMO.
Well, actually, from a road/paving point of view, the worst idea ever was probably spraying used electrical transformer oil packed with PCB's onto rural roads "to keep the dust down"; but THAT's a superfund story for another time...
 
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Old 12-14-20, 01:22 AM
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I think Im going to try doing a soil cement floor in my barn.
He's inside a barn, the water issue should not exist.
 
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Old 12-14-20, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Marq1
He's inside a barn, the water issue should not exist.
Eh, it really depends on the soil, and that often depends on the location - hilltop & clay, valley slope & loam, bottomland with sandy/gravelly soil.

I'm on a broad-flat hill, BUT it's clay soil so after a heavy rain I have water seeping up through the joint where the barn's concrete floor meets the walls.
 
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Old 12-14-20, 02:46 PM
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Is this a barn that will house livestock?
 
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Old 12-14-20, 03:00 PM
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One stall might have pigs in it again. Other than that just goats and chickens. That one stall I think I'll end up doing concrete in. The rest of the barn is just for my tractor and mower. I just have a small tractor. Only weighs 3000 lbs
 
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Old 12-14-20, 03:22 PM
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The cement you mix that way will hold up to foot traffic, not much else. Certainly not livestock, and certainly not any sort of vehicle. Sorry to burst your bubble.
 
 

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