Hardwood flooring has a very old pedigree in the Old World as well as in the new. Here are some observations of design-integrated European wood flooring.
I’m not sure I’ve seen carpet anywhere yet in Europe. Rugs, yes, but carpet? No.
Here in Croatia where I’m now writing this, wood and tile floors are king, and I’m in love with it all. The home I’m staying in right now has wood floors that are stunning. It’s not just about the product, though. It’s about installation.
Passion and precision
The zig-zag or “chevron” installation on these floors is an example of how much passion and precision goes into European craftsmanship. I love the random, staggered style of plank flooring back home, which we feature here on BuildDirect, but there’s also a lot to love about fixed-length wood, too, if you take the time to plot and plan for a more creative install.
The flooring in this suite I presently call home has been sealed so well that it’ll probably survive a nuclear bomb. Coat after coat after coat of sealant has turned the floor into a slip-and-slide game, if you’re into that kind of thing. Want to practice your Tom Cruise Risky Business dance-and-slide routine? Have I got the floor for you!
Beauty and survival
But the depth of detail all that sealant brings out, that’s a beautiful thing. It’s probably also why it’s survived for a century.
These old buildings take so much work to get upgraded that there’s a passion for doing it thoroughly and beautifully the first time. Treat it well, do it right, and make it last.
It’s an ethos we could use more of back home, instead of the idea that we can just redo a floor or whatever every 15 or 20 years. If you’re planning to install floors, why not reach for a higher budget, buy the best quality you can, and take the time to consider how you can take it up a notch with old-world level craftsmanship?
Hardwood is meant to be a long-term investment
The better quality you choose, the more likelihood there is that you can refinish them not just once but a couple times over the next 50 years, if needed. But if you go all out on doing a high-quality sealing job, and not just one coat, maybe it won’t matter that they’re able to be refinished. Maybe, instead, they’ll simply last until the next century because you did your job right the first time.
I know, when I grew up, that my dad went to a 50-year-old home and pulled out the hardwood and reinstalled it in our home. Some of it remains even now, 30 years later.
True “hardwood” is meant to be a long-term product. Up north, my brother’s living with a gorgeous armoire that my mother bought about 20 years ago when she was still alive. It’s made with plank hardwood flooring from a store that was a century-old before artisans pulled it out and re-used it in furniture. That’s good wood for you.
The love of wood
Here in Europe, the love of wood hasn’t gone away. It’s in so many homes still. Apartments, country villas, and more, they’ve all still got old-world hardwood because it lasts too long to bother replacing it, and it’s a little more comfortable than living with tile can be.
If you’re looking at redoing your floors and you’re putting price first, I’d implore you to find a happy medium, if only to invest in longevity, not just for your home and peace of mind, but for the eco-friendly nature of using the right product the first time around.