The History of Hardwood Flooring, Part 2

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As promised, folks, here’s the follow up to the brief history of hardwood flooring I mapped out for you last week. This is part 2 of a series of 3.

In that post, I mentioned that the colonization of North America had a big impact on the flooring industry – more sources of wood for flooring meant better floors for everyone, and not just the nobility. By the mid-1800s and into the early 20th century, hardwood floors were being mass produced.

The resulting floors were a little less easy to maintain than they are today of course, requiring frequent waxing and buffing. There again, if you had the money, you could hire a team of servants to keep them shining. I suppose you could do that today too, although there’s a little less reason to do that since the choice of hardwood flooring today is a pretty practical one. But, more on that later.

Among some of the advances in wood flooring by the early 20th century was the “tongue and groove” floor plank. This approach made for a stronger installation when compared to earlier “wood carpeting” hardwood floors, which were rolled out on a layer of cotton canvas in thin strips. The interlocking nature of these floors meant an additional structural benefit to properties which still holds true today.

Better varnishes for wood flooring also made this generation of hardwood floors a smart buy as well. This was particularly true in the 20s and 30s when linoleum and cork floors were becoming popular. By this time, polyurethane finishes allowed wood to survive into the modern era as a great choice for lower maintenance flooring. Times were changing – the era which assumed that teams of servants would take care of flooring was coming to an end. This meant that a lower-maintenance floor would be the one to win the average flooring buyer’s favor. Once a luxury item, hardwood floors would soon become a more practical choice too as a result.

Where do things go from here? Stay tuned for the next installment to find out how the history of wood flooring continues into the 21st century in part 3 of the history of hardwood flooring series . Same bat-time. Same bat-channel.

Hardwood image courtesy of Simonkoleznik.

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Rob