Old floor

Hello all you renovation people, I am hoping for some advice, we have a floor that has very old quarry tiles on which are all cracked and broken, the previous owners poured leveling compound over in places which now has gone to powder, underneath the tiles it appears to be dirt & straw, we would like to tile the area but the problem is underneath is the cave and the floor slopes too, any advice would be welcome.

Thanks to all of you who have given advice, it all seems like a really big job, may get a builder in to look at it.

I have done a similar thing with 50mm ply laid down, tiled on top and there is a cast iron wood burner cooker standing on the tiles 5 years later no tile broken cracked or dislodged to remove all the wooden beams would be horrendously expensive that is why we had the beton layed on top of the old floor by a builder who inspected the beams first as most of them are 18 inch square they didnt pose a problem

It would seem to me that this is a very ancient method of construction. To provide a secure fix you are going to have to replace the existing floor/cellar roof probably with concrete beams and block infill. Then lay concrete sub floor and a floor screed and tile.Alternatively providing the timber beams were sound you could possibly lay a stiff floor of thick plywood and tile though I doubt you would achieve the stiffness required. I can imagine a system that used timber beams overlain with straw and brushwood then earth then tile. This would have sufficed for the very low floor loadings which might have been the case in the 16th/17th century but not for today. I can't recall seeing examples of such floors in France though it is reminiscent of vaults in Tuscany. I'm neither architect nor builder but am interested in ancient buildings. I think you need to consult a maçon or architect as all depends on the spans and loadings and the condition of the existing floor beams and their supports..

That a funny idea, i can understand why they have done that obviously to fill in the gaps between the beams to lay the tiles probably thats why they have cracked over the years the filling has shrunk and the tiles droped. assuming that whatever the filling is lying on is strong enough then do as Andy says fill in with beton ledger then you have a flat base to lay down the tiles, my dear wife bless her keeps telling me that one day i am going to rip up the laminate and lay tiles which will be on the beton floor

Hi John, We don't know for sure what it is but directly underneath the tiles it is like wattle and daub and there doesn't seem to be anything else other than beams every 18 inches with this stuff inbetween

We had a wooden floor that sloped 4 inch across a room 6 m wide if we put a bottle down it would roll away into the corner the wooden floor was beyond repair so the builder layed Beton leger down then much to the wifes disgust we had laminate, if the cave or cellar is underneath what supports the dirt floor or am i mis understanding

I am no building expert but I would think about digging as much of the earth and straw out and putting down "beton leger" which uses polystyrene beads instead of gravel, as well as a steel mesh to spread the weight.