When it comes to flooring, there is no clearer choice than classic hardwood, regardless of the style or age of your home. It has survived not only the test of time but has shown its various colors, textures, and patterns to outlast the most progressive trends in flooring fashion. In this blog post, we’ll not only discuss the types of wood flooring in old homes but also go back in time and look into the history of wood floors. As an added bonus, in the last part of this post, we’ll discuss what’s the best way to clean a wood floor.
Nothing beats peeling back the layers of linoleum and shag carpet to reveal beautifully preserved planks, particularly in antique homes where linoleum and shag carpet have left their catastrophic marks. Classic hardwood is still a worthwhile investment!
History of Wood Floors
Apart from its apparent aesthetic attraction, you might be curious why hardwood has remained enduring over the years. Why has hardwood stayed popular even as other types have come & gone? To do this, we must go back in time. Join us as we explore the history and evolution of this popular design element, as well as how to integrate its timeless beauty into the rooms of your home.
Since the dawn of time wood has been used as a construction material. Trees have long been a highly prized natural resource, starting from primitive constructs consisting of rams and branches to the well-constructed Longhouses of the indigenous peoples of North America.
Lumber acted as a valuable material for everything from boating, canoes, houses, storage, and equipment, whenever people lived in wooded areas. Timber had given these early people the resources to build and overcome even greater obstacles, including the daunting task of establishing larger permanent settlements.
They initially constructed villages and clusters of buildings as their design skills progressed. During this time period, beaten earth was the most common flooring material in most households. Dirt floors, obviously, had their disadvantages. Depending on the season, earthen or soil floors became cracked, muddy, or wet, not to mention incredibly dusty. They were difficult to keep clean and wore unevenly around the home.
The vast forested lands of North America were used by early American immigrants to build plank floors in most houses. These floors were designed without concern for design in order to have convenience and practicality. They were usually made of planks cut to arbitrary widths, left incomplete, and merely worn smooth from use over time.
While identical in style, these ancestors’ floors were very different from the polished wood beauties we build today. The older types of floors were raw, hand-hewn behemoths, in contrast to the clean, sanded planks we’ve come to expect. Builders relied on decades of booted feet to wear down the planks and opted not to mark, dye, or otherwise handle them. Because of the abundance of available forestland, wood was also a cost-effective option. Using some other commodity would have required importing it from somewhere else, which was impossible for the average man at the time.
In the early years, the constructors picked their materials from vast old-growth trees that meant planks were very wide and very long. We find very dense planks in historic homes. Various types of wood flooring in old homes measured from 8 to 16 feet in length and as large as 20 inches or more
These lavish proportions were not motivated by a desire to be fashionable; rather, they were motivated by a desire to serve a purpose. It was very difficult to down massive trees. Once on the field, the fewer cuts made to the tree, the better. As a result, extraordinarily large planks were clearly the standard.
The tradition of hardwood floors dates back to the 1600s. Wood continued to be used as floors more often, often as unfinished boards with wood joists supported by soil or pillar. It really became elegant and stylish throughout the Baroque period from the early 1600s until the early 1710s.
The types of wood flooring in old homes starting from 1625 on, were of designs of French artistic parquetry and marquetry. These floors consisted of hand-cut wood parts equipped with three-dimensional designs. They were then scraped by hand, brushed with grit, stained, and finely polished. This meticulous art was what the richest customers and royalty could afford.
Hardwood flooring tradition evolved through the Victorian period, from the mid-1800 wood floors to the early 1900 wood flooring, when European parquet floors started to emerge in the most affluent of American homes. Around this time, manufacturers started mass-producing wood floors. A “wood carpet” was marketed, which was basically rolls of thick fabric with thin 1 1/2′′ by 5/16′′ slices of wood glued on.
According to the advertisements, someone with simple carpentry experience could safely build the flooring. The installation method was to hold each strip down with a small counter-sunk and filled brads. During the installation, the ground was scraped and sanded with a 25-pound block with a natural-bristled brush. The paper was attached and the block gently moved across to the floor to ensure that the floor was smooth and uniform.
The floors were varnished, then polished with hot wax, and meticulously buffed. This less expensive option made elegant flooring more affordable, but the floors were squeaky, littered with splits and cracks, and lacked the longevity of the original handcrafted floors.
Amazingly, over 8 centuries later, some of the types of wood flooring in old homes built on higher levels that encountered less foot traffic still exist and can be seen. Less wealthy customers tried to imitate the high-end flooring designs by painting identical designs on their floors, but very few of these less costly options lasted and stood the test of time.
During the Edwardian era of the early 20th century, the introduction of tongue and groove architecture involved the construction of planks. This brought a sleek, consistent look to hardwood floors, and the style we know and love today began to take shape.
Floors were constructed on concrete slabs using hot tar as an adhesive. Each stage of the operation was carried out in tandem, with mainly low-wage laborers scraping, sanding, screening, and waxing the floors to a high standard.
At this time, the tongue and groove floor style of herringbones became popular, and many of these floors are still used or were refined for further use.
The stock market was not the only thing that crashed in the late 1920s. With the Great Depression starting in its entirety and the glittery visions of the booming 20’s a hazy illusion, when it came to looking for alternate choices, people looked away from 1920s wood flooring and 1930s wood flooring to inexpensive flooring options.
Because of its high entrance costs and the necessary maintenance, hardwood dropped out of favor. The wooden floors of the late 1960s had almost become a memory, largely due to the United States Federal Housing Authority.
Carpeting was agreed to as part of a 1966 mortgage plan of 30 years. This led to the pricey, labor-intensive hardwood being discarded by both homeowners and house-builders for cheaper, more easy and quicker carpet installation. This played an important role in the decline of the hardwood flooring industry until its recovery in the mid-80s.
It wasn’t until the 1990s that the interior design community rediscovered the allure of wood flooring. Modern designs adapted the classic look with a new twist: instead of using traditional planks like native oak or reclaimed pine, they used more tropical hardwoods and indigenous trees like maple and Brazilian cherry wood. Some of the types of wood flooring in old homes that consisted of these ancient materials are regaining popularity, with many shapes and types to choose from.
What’s old is new again — just a few tweaks, as with any template. The mid-century skinny boards and yellow hues have disappeared. Nowadays, homebuyers like to decorate their homes in a more modern way. The stain choices range in color from dark espresso to almost white. The color is the one thing that all modern floors have in common.
Nowadays, warm colors, such as browns, reds, and yellow undertones, and a preference for pure grey or brown undertones, are definitely prevalent. The stormy gray walls seem to pop everywhere to make this look amazing. In this instance, walnut and ebony do well, like oak, which has obvious grain. Even if they are harder to maintain, darker floors tend to expose dirt and scrapes more than their light counterparts. Still, with that said the payoff is substantially positive.
Some types of wood flooring in old homes such as antiqued and reclaimed wood are seeing a resurgence alongside the whitewashed, grey style. White or gray ash hardwood flooring seems to be being installed everywhere you look. Classic European floors are also making a comeback, with meticulous selection and hand polishing while respecting the timber’s natural figuring and characteristics. It is a distinct style distinguished by its meticulous, time-honored craftsmanship.
Sheen is the final element to consider, after color and wood. Matte and satin finishes are currently the most common, with excessive glossiness on the decline. Fortunately, matte and satin sheens are excellent at covering scuffs and bruises, making this a win-win situation for the majority of homeowners.
In general, classic hardwood is a safe investment, regardless of the kind of wooden floors you choose for your house. It stands the test of time, is still fashionable, and can even be finished according to shifting tastes.
Wooden flooring has been used for decades. With new technologies and a focus on affordable, durable flooring, we anticipate that this flooring trend will last for a long time.
What’s The Best Way To Clean Wood Floors
It’s never been easier to safeguard your prized wood floor.
Champion has items that are specifically formulated to clean and protect your prefinished wood floor.
The Champion Old Fashioned Dust Mop is made in the United States! Yes, you read that correctly! We went out of our way to make this dust mop right here in the United States! Isn’t it amazing? We’ve been doing so for over 40 years!
The multi-colored yarn that is hand-sewn on this long-lasting dry mop for hardwood floors goes through a special procedure. Each fiber receives a unique electromagnetic static charge as a result of this proprietary manufacturing process. Unwanted dust automatically adheres to the threads, demonstrating the dry mop’s magnetic-like influence on wood floors.
Spray a small amount of Champion Hardwood & Laminate Floor Cleaner onto a slightly damp Champion Yellow Mop and mop a portion of the floor in the same direction as the floorboard grains. Continue until the whole floor has been cleaned and completed
When maintaining your floor, never use a domestic house detergent, wax, concentrated wood cleaner, or oil-based soap to scrub your floor. These products may change the color and hurt the finish. Also, they may leave a greasy layer on the floor, making it slick and difficult to clean.
The greasy film can also ruin the application of a restorer coat. It is safer not to use a steam cleaner. Since vinegar oxidizes the finish, water-vinegar mixtures are not recommended for cleaning prefinished flooring.
Water And Wood
When wood fibers ingest water, they expand, which can ruin floors and their finishes. When water gets onto the floor, it will change the dimensions of the boards, cause discoloration, and contribute to mold growth between the boards.
Kitchen and entryway floors are especially prone to getting wet. Wood floors in these locations need special precautions to preserve recommended humidity and temperature levels and to keep water from getting on the surface.
Never use a saturated mop or huge volumes of liquid or water to scrub wood floors. Wipe off any leaking water, oils, or detergents so that they don’t soak the wood fibers.
Install floor mats in front of each doorway, as well as the refrigerator, dishwasher, and kitchen work areas. Place leakproof saucers underneath your plants to avoid accidental leaks. Waterproof glaze pots are superior to porous clay pots that cause water to flow through.
For over 40 years Champion has answered the often asked, “what’s the best way to clean wood floors?” Their unique, high-performance wood floor cleaning products get the job done.
No matter the types of wood flooring in old homes that are present, the Champion Old Fashioned Dust Mop is the finest dust mop that can be used to remove dust from any beautiful hardwood floor, regardless of whether the floor is ancient or new.