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History of Hardwood Floors

The History of Hardwoods

It has been discovered that the earliest hardwood floors date back to the Middle Ages. As late as the 17th century, most houses in Europe did not have wooden floors unless they belonged to nobility. For most of the houses, there was only a dirt floor. If there was a second story, those floors would be made up of a wooden joist system covered with rough oak or elm planks and smoothed out by rubbing them with stones or metal.

 

American Colonial Wood Floors

There was an abundance of timber in North America which led to the common use of wood floors during the Colonial Era, from about early 1600's to the late 1700's. These floors were used to add comfort, warmth, and resistance to the elements.

Early in those periods, the floors were not sanded or finished. Because they were typically made of slow growth pine, the smoothing and polishing of the floor was accomplished just by everyday walking on it. It wasn't until the American Victorian Era began in the 1850's that wood floors began to be produced on a large scale.

In the 1920's, the wood flooring industry began to see strong competition from other flooring materials. Linoleum, which was patented in 1860, was a much better choice due to its ease of installation and less maintenance.

 

Hardwood Flooring and the Housing Boom

During the housing boom after WWII, wood was a good choice but cost became an issue. Although wood floors were still being installed, even sometimes as the sub-floor, most builders and homeowners opted for wall-to-wall carpeting over the top of them.

When a new generation of home buyers began finding beautiful hardwood under their old carpeting, a new push into hardwood flooring began. Due to the lack of specialized professionals in the industry to install and finish new floors, manufacturers set out to make quality pre-finished flooring in their factories.

 

Hard Wood Floors and Popularity Today

Although the quality of the first pre-finished floors were very low, they were popular due to the ease of installation and absence of having to go through the sanding and finishing process on site.

Today there are many qualified professionals as well as some top pre-finished products. This allows for a huge choice for consumers who are in the market for hardwood flooring.