The History of Wood Flooring—everything You Wanted to Know

Posted August 5, 2021 by in Decor

When it comes to choosing a flooring material, wood is a common choice. We commonly find buildings with wood floorings, such as in schools, offices, apartments, and more. However, has it always been the case? When did it all start?   

American Colonial Era

It all dates back to the American colonial era thick planks of wood were roughly cut from the ancient forests of North America. They were using in their rough form without any final finishes. In those early days, the wooden planks used were comparatively wide and long. It is because cutting down an enormous tree required hours of work, and hence, people decided to keep the cuts as minimum as possible.

Before this, people relied on earthen floors that would conveniently become cracked and worn out. It was the difficulty in maintaining these dirt floors that pushed people to find new alternatives. 

Improvements Made to Wood Flooring

Further, in the mid-1700s, people started to cover the wood with wax so that the wooden floorboards could become resistant to wear down and water. Later around 1865, varnish oils have also used on wooden floorboards. It allowed the wood to become better resistant to scratches and abrasions. The durability of the wood flooring was further increased in the 1930s when Polyurethane was started to be used as a protective layer on the floorboards. It allowed the wood to compete against other materials that later became popular in the market due to their easy maintenance and simple procedures of the fitting. Yet, the popularity of hardwood started declining with the arrival of carpeting. It has considered a cheaper alternative, and the market share of hardwood kept on decreasing until the 1980s when people turned back to wooden flooring. 

The Baroque Era

The Baroque era has been marked by wooden flooring’s arrival in European homes. Soon people started experimenting with these wooden floorboards. Hardwoods of different colors were cut into small pieces so that new patterns and designs were created. It resulted in marquetry and parquetry patterns. Marquetry flooring is all about using pictures in the wood, while the latter is more about creating patterns. Parquetry was more commonly used for flooring and larger surfaces as compared to marquetry that was used in the designing of smaller architecture.

The parquet flooring style not only became popular amongst wealthy families in France but, later outspread into the Atlantic as well. 

The Victorian and Edwardian Era

Additionally, during the Victorian Era wooden floors started to be used in wealthy American homes, and the factories started mass producing wooden floorboards. From machines like side-matcher and end-matcher were developed. These machines allowed the wood flooring factories to add a tongue and a groove to the floorboards. It became easier and efficient to fit the floorboards and gave them a much better appearance than before.

People started using softwood instead of hardwood since getting softwood was convenient and a more affordable choice. The Victorian and later the Edwardian Era noticeable for the technological advancements led to a rise in timber production. 

The Decline in the Popularity of wWood Flooring

However, like many other trends in history, wooden floorboards also lost the competition to alternative materials. It was later in the 1920s when hardwood was perceived to have high costs associated. One of the after-effects of the Great Depression was people moving to cheaper options. Carpeting that had been considered to be cheaper, faster to install, and less labor-intensive became a more favored option. 

The Revival

It was in the 1990s that people started to embrace the classic look of wooden flooring again. People now have more options to choose from. All thanks to the new designs, colors, patterns, sizes of wooden floorboards available in the market. 

What’s Trending Today?

Today, the preferences of people are wide-ranged. While some prefer using warmer tones for their wood flooring. Although dirt and scratches could easily be seen on darker flooring, it is still believed that they make the room look classic. Others like using cool-toned hardwoods to gray blends and white-washed floors with natural finishes.

Since it is also a matter of one’s likes and dislikes, some people opt for mixing the darker and lighter shades and coming up with a design that is well-suited for their homes and offices. People are not restricted to one type of wood flooring from laminate to engineered and solid wood flooring a long list of options is available to choose from.