When it comes to flooring, we’ve made plenty of ground over the years.From prehistoric times when floors were just a patch of ground, to the exquisite marble still remaining in Ancient Rome, flooring has come a long way over the years.
And let’s not forget the infamous shag carpeting craze in the 1970’s. Additionally, the rebirth of hardwood and the popularity of renewable resources in flooring materials today indicate a rapid change in flooring over the years.
When it comes to flooring in the 21st century, one has plenty of options to choose from, including natural stone, bamboo, laminate, cork, carpeting, hardwood – just to name a few. Even with all the modern choices on the market today, ancient types of floors are still in use in different parts of the world, proving that our ancestors may have known a thing or two about durable, stylish flooring.
Let’s explore the evolution of some popular flooring materials.
View of natural Škocjan Caves in Slovenia
Dawn of the Man CaveTable of Contents [show]
While evidence exists that man did live with a roof over his head, there wasn’t much thought about what went under his feet.
It wasn’t until around 8000 BC that the concept of flooring was born. Instead of caves, many began to live in roundhouses that were simple tent-style structures comprised of branches and mud.
According to History World.net, “the floor of each house was excavated some way down into the ground; then both the floor and the brick walls were plastered in mud.”
Flooring In Ancient GreeceFast forward to Ancient Greece (800 BC to 500 BC), it was a sophisticated period in world history, including flooring, to some degree.
Homes made out of sun-dried brick on a foundation of stones have upgraded from simple huts. Yet, while Andron room floors were sometimes tiled, flooring in the rest of the rooms consisted of packed dirt, otherwise known as ‘earthen floors.’
The Birth of Carpeting & WeavingWhile the exact origins of carpet weaving is unknown, archeological research has determined that Egyptians of the 3rd millennium BC wove carpets of linen ornamented by sewn-on bright- coloured pieces of woolen cloth.
Early Chinese carpets comprised of knotted silk with backings of wool or cotton and nomadic rugs were woven on simple horizontal frames that could roll for travelling.
The carpet industry in the United States began in 1791 when William Sprague started the first woven carpet mill in Philadelphia. Others opened during the early 1800s in New England.
Over the years styles have changed, but one thing has remained constant – carpet lovers will always desire soft, comfortable carpeting that’s easy to care for.
Introducing Smooth-Surfaced FlooringIn 1863, an inventor named Fredrick Walton of Great Britain patented a process of making linoleum (often abbreviated to lino). Based upon the Latin Linum, flax or linseed, and oleum oil, it’s the first widely used smooth-surfaced floor covering.
Walton first conceived the idea for this flooring material after observing the plastic dried surface layer of a flaxseed oil-based paint. In his own words:
“There was a paint pot in the laboratory, and, as usual a skin or surface of dried oil had formed upon it…it occurred to me that…I could use it as a … waterproofing material, like India rubber.”
Before it became known as linoleum, Fredrick called his floor cloth Kampticon. But, once he realized that the name could be confused with the India rubber product, he changed the name to Linoleum.
To quote the patent document:
“…this invention has for its object improvements in the making of fabrics for covering floors and other surfaces…. canvas or other suitable strong fabrics are coated over their upper surfaces with a composition consisting of oxidised oil, coal dust and gum or resin, preferring Kauri or New Zealand gum, such surfaces being afterwards primed, painted, embossed or otherwise ornamented….’ Coal dust was soon to be replaced by ground cork but the basic idea for linoleum remained as stated in the patent.”
The History of HardwoodHardwood floors may be extremely popular now, but it wasn’t until the Middle Ages that the concept of wood flooring took flight, according to the British Columbia Floor Covering Association.
“Typically, floors of the common folk at that time were packed earth, stone or brick on the ground level and rough hewn oak or pine planks on the upper floor. Such wood was typically milled at the worksite using simple rudimentary hand tools (saws, axe, chisels, etc.). There was little standardization in sizing. These boards were planed by hand with no preference to equal width boards – just whatever could be made from material on hand. These were usually left untreated and regularly scrubbed with sand.”
Those who could afford the use of more elaborate/finer finished wood flooring were usually the wealthy – some upper-class homes even had hand-cut pieces inlaid into impressive patterns.
It wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution and resulting machinery that common sizing of wood flooring evolved.
Today, there are a plethora of new patterns, textured surfaces and new finishes to choose from. And in recent years, “engineered” hardwood flooring has also become a mainstay.
Modern-Day FlooringWith a variety of materials to choose from, flooring has never been so customizable for each individual home.
Today, homeowners can pick (specifically from Diverse Flooring!) from tile, bamboo, cork, carpet, laminate, hardwood, vinyl and more when deciding how best to floor their space.