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HOME MATERIALS Compressed earth blocks (CEB) You can find these at building supply stores. Most are stabilized with about 5%-10% Portland cement to make them more water-resistant. Screened sand If you buy sand, it will have been run through a screen to remove large pebbles and other detritus. We made a sifter with some hail screen (1"–¼" welded mesh) and screened sand from the local riverbed to remove the rocks. Concrete mix You’ll use a little concrete around the perimeter of your floor only. Sealer Use an acrylic or oil-based concrete sealer or varnish that can handle moisture. TOOLS Circular saw with masonry blade (optional) for cutting bricks Scrap of angle iron, hammer and/or chisel for breaking bricks. Alternatively, you could try a brick bolster, a stone chisel made for breaking bricks. Levels (2) one small, one longer Rubber mallet Boards to stand on (2) You don’t want to stand on the sand, because your feet will make large dents. When you stand on a board, your weight is spread out and the smooth surface of the sand isn’t compromised. Surgical tape (optional) When laying the brick, tape your fingertips with surgical tape. This helps protect them without compromising dexterity. Masonry trowel Paint roller and paintbrush

the top of the metal is flush with the level you want the sand to be (Figure A). You then bridge another piece of metal across the 2 pieces of square tubing, so that it sits on top of them, and drag it backward and forward over the area until it’s smooth. Set up your boards and tools where you’ll begin working. It’s often best to start along the room’s straightest edge, so that your first row of bricks follows a good line. Also, it’s easier to begin near where the bricks are coming from, so that the person handing you bricks can use the finished part of the floor to walk on, instead of having to set up more boards to walk on.

2. Pick a pattern. Running bond may be the easiest pattern to get your feet wet, but none of them are hard (Figure B). Herringbone can be difficult to visualize, but once you get going, it’s not nearly as intimidating as it seems. 118

3. Cut or break the bricks. Whichever pattern you choose, you’ll need some half bricks. Try and work out roughly how many you’ll need for your starting edge, and cut those ahead of time. You can do the ones needed at the other end of your rows, once the rest of the floor is laid. Cut the bricks using a circular saw with a masonry blade. A dust mask is a good idea, as this kicks up a bunch of very fine dust. If you’re not too particular about the edges of your cut bricks, it’s far easier to break them instead of cutting. We did this by turning a piece of angle iron upside down, so that its corner is pointing upward. We then hit the metal with the brick at the point where we wanted it to break. It’s a little ragged, but you can clean it up with a chisel or hammer.

4. Lay the main section of the floor. Place each brick, one by one, where you want it to go. With the long level, check that each brick is level with previously placed bricks or with existing floors that you wish to match. With the short level, make sure the brick itself is level in all directions. You also want to check that it’s lined up well with the wall. If the first brick is angled just a little, so that one side is closer to the wall than the other side, this will be highly visible by the time you lay an entire row of bricks. Use the rubber mallet to tap the brick tight against its neighbors (Figure C). Then tap down on it if necessary to get the level correct. Add or remove sand if necessary. Bear in mind that the bricks themselves are not always smooth — they may rise slightly at the edges. If you wish, you can sand these edges down by rubbing them with another brick or a trowel. When you reach the opposite end of the wall and don’t have a brick to fit in the space, leave it. You’ll place all the edge bricks at the end. Even before the floor is finished, you can walk on it, but don’t tread near the unfinished edges.

5. Lay the edge bricks. You may have to measure each space and cut or break bricks to fit. Alternatively, you can fill the edge gaps with a very fine concrete when you do the perimeter. Be sure to check that the edge bricks (and pieces) are level with the main floor.

6. Fill the perimeter with concrete. Once you’ve laid the main bricks and edge bricks, you can fill in the perimeter — in between the bricks

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