In keeping with the minimal philosophy of living in a yurt, the ideal design will employ a minimum of materials, be as “green” as possible and will be both sustainable and durable.
In our yurt, we have chosen a very inexpensive, basic design and material for our flooring. There are several reasons for this.
Firstly, cost is a factor in the decision as to the type of flooring to use. We opted for materials with a cost of less than $0.45 per square foot, plus $0.10 per square foot for finishes.
Secondly, we wanted to ensure that the frequent traffic directly from outdoors to indoors did not track in excess dirt. Carpeting would have trapped that dirt.
Thirdly, the location of the yurt in a wooded area would have attracted insects such as ants. By constructing flooring with a hard surface, we eliminated nesting sites for those insects.
Fourthly, we wanted a floor that would remain cool in the summer and able to adapt to winter conditions. With the hard surface, we were able to lay down area carpets that we already owned in strategic locations, while keeping bare floor at entrances and frequently used work areas, such as the kitchen areas and washroom.
Lastly, we wanted to minimize weight of the flooring, since we built the yurt on pads and posts, rasther than embedding pillars into the ground.
To accomplish all four goals, we used ¾ inch oriented strand board as sub floor material, with 1/8 inch good one side plywood laid at a ninety degree angles to the subfloor as the main floor. The plywood was screwed to the underlay using three quarter inch wood screws with threads the full length of the screw. The use of full-length threads is essential, so that the screws can be countersunk into the thin plywood.
Lastly, we used a clear varnish to coat the surface of the flooring, making sure to pay special attention to the high traffic areas.
Since installing this flooring, we have found that it works remarkably well, and shows a sheen and grain similar to good-quality hardwood or laminate flooring, at one quarter of the cost.
However, some problems have arisen. On occasion, we stored 20 pound propane tanks on the floor, and, with changing temperatures, the tanks attracted condensation. This condensation accumulated in a ring on the floor. To remove it, we lightly scoured the area with a Javex and water mix, with modest success. The only other problem has been a slight separation, due to the thinness of the material, in spots where insufficient screws were used.
This flooring has answered all five of our criteria for the design, and is recommended for anyone contemplating an inexpensive flooring alternative, whether in a yurt or cabin.