A Visual History of Flooring Across The World
BEGINNING OF TIME
Earthen Floor: Hard-packed dirt, topped with a thin layer of straw for warmth and comfort.
In medieval times, almost all peasants housing had earthen floors. It was predominant in most houses until the mid-14th century in Europe.
Earthen floors have been developed and are now used as a part of the ‘green building’ movement. Linseed oil is used to seal the floor and protect it from wear and tear.
Where can you find it now? The Roman Amphitheatre, London
Stone: formed deep beneath the surface under intense heat and pressure. This heat and pressure created massive blocks of natural stones like marble, granite, limestone, slate, and travertine used then and now as flooring.
Enormous blocks of limestone and granite were used to construct Djoser’s Step Pyramid in Egypt, the oldest remaining structure created entirely out of natural stone.
Where can you find it now? The Great Pyramid
Concrete: A mixture of broken stone or gravel, sand, cement, and water, which can be spread or poured into moulds and forms a stone-like mass on hardening.
The ancient Romans used a material that is remarkably close to modern cement to build many of their architectural marvels, such as the Colosseum, and the Pantheon.
Where can you find it now? The Roman Pantheon
Carpet: a floor covering made from thick woven fabric
Carpets were primarily used to decorate walls or tables until Persian rugs became popular in Europe in the early 17th century.
A few hundred years later, the United States carpet industry came into being when William Sprague started the first woven carpet mill in Pennsylvania in 1791.
Where can you find it now? The Pazyryk Carpet
Ceramic tiles; a tile made from clay that has been permanently hardened by heat, often having a decorative glaze.
The Romans introduced tile-making in Western Europe as they occupied territories. However, that art was eventually forgotten in Europe for centuries until the 12th century when Cistercian monks developed a method of making encaustic floor tiles with inlaid patterns for cathedral and church floors.
Tiles were not made again in Europe until almost the mid-19th century.
Where can you find it now? The Vatican
Hardwood; the wood from a broadleaved tree (such as oak, ash, or beech) as distinguished from that of conifers:
Hardwood got its start as flooring in the often as unfinished planks supported by wooden joists over dirt or stone but developed style and elegance during the Baroque Era (1625-1714).
European parquet floors began to appear in the wealthiest American homes late in the Victorian era (1840-1910) when factories began mass-producing wood floors. The advent of tongue and groove construction in the Edwardian Era (1901-1914) allowed planks to be levelled before installation for a more polished, uniform look, and the look we are still familiar with today began to take shape.
Where can you find it now? The Winter Palace, Russia, Discount Flooring Depot
Linoleum; a material consisting of a canvas backing thickly coated with a preparation of linseed oil and powdered cork, used especially as a floor covering.
Linoleum flooring had its heyday before World War II but is steadily mounting a comeback.
Linoleum was invented by Englishman Frederick Walton. In 1855, Walton happened to notice the rubbery, flexible skin of solidified linseed oil (linoxyn) that had formed on a can of oil-based paint.
Where can you find it now? The Armstrong Pattern Book
Engineered Wood; A layered combination that combines a hardwood veneer and plywood substrates.
Engineered wood flooring started as ‘wood carpeting’ in 1903, involving wood strips glued onto heavy canvas. The flooring we now know began in the 1960s, and was quickly considered more versatile than solid wood flooring.
Where can you find it now? Typical family homes
Laminate; a multi-layer synthetic flooring product fused together with a lamination process. Laminate flooring simulates wood (or sometimes stone) with a photographic applique layer under a clear protective layer. The inner core layer is usually composed of melamine resin and fiber board materials.
Laminate flooring was invented in 1977 by the Swedish company Perstorp and sold under the brand name Pergo. Glueless laminate flooring was developed in 1996 by the Swedish company Välinge Aluminium (now Välinge Innovation)
Where can you find it now? Budget-conscious homes
Bamboo; A bamboo floor is a type of flooring manufactured from the bamboo plant. Bamboo has been used as an alternative for flooring because of its physical similarities to true hardwoods.
Bamboo floor manufacturers and sellers promote its strength, durability, its eco-friendliness and its natural resistance to insects and moisture.
Where can you find it now? Eco-friendly homes