The History of Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood flooring did not become popular until end of the 17th century and at that time only people of great wealth like French nobles and royalty could afford to have it in their homes. The flooring was blocks of wood that were cut by hand and inlaid in intricate decorative patterns. This required a lot of labor and hand crafting so they were very costly. These were the first well designed parquet floors.

After the pilgrims came to America, plank floors became more common because they had unlimited access to an over abundance of trees in the new world. They usually consisted of wide raw pine planks that were neither sanded nor stained. 

In the 1800’s painted wooden plank flooring was popular among the common people. If you were poor you might have boards of different sizes nailed down for your flooring. If you had more money you could afford tongue and grove type flooring, which were harder to install but resulted in a more level floor, which was then painted. Among the rich, parquet patterned floors were more common.

During the Industrial Revolution of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, companies began mass production of hardwood flooring. This flooring was made by gluing strips of wood approximately 1 1/2 inches by 5/16 of an inch, to heavy cotton fabric and rolled onto a roll, which was then sold in catalogs as hardwood carpet. These floors still had to be hand sanded, hot waxed and buffed and were very time consuming to install, prepare and maintain.

Up until 1914, the most popular flooring was tongue and groove. They would install parquet flooring around the outside edge of carpeting because carpet was more costly than wood flooring. Linoleum and cork flooring gained popularity in the United States in the 1920’s through the 1940’s because they were cheap and easily installed. With the introduction of polyurethane as a wax free finish for wood flooring, it remained popular until about 1950.    

Hardwood flooring began to steadily decline in popularity after World War II. Wall to wall carpeting became popular and hardwood was installed only as a sub-floor, even though it was still sanded and finished. Eventually, builders began using plywood as a sub-floor and covering it with wall to wall carpeting, so the demand for hardwood flooring greatly declined for about 30 years. Hardwood flooring manufacturers were then forced to sell carpet to keep from going out of business.

Pre-finished v groove hardwood flooring became popular in the 1980’s but it was not well made. Then during the 1990’s with the rise of the housing market and building industry, hardwood flooring became a desire choice for flooring once again. In the modern era, engineered flooring has given customers a less expensive, versatile alternative to hardwood flooring. Due to conservation, the forests are replenished by planting new trees to replace the ones that are harvested for flooring, so that there is an ample supply of hardwoods. With today’s quality control standards, manufacturer’s are making a much better product that is very durable, hypoallergenic, easy to clean and maintain and very versatile. There is a type of hardwood flooring now that can be installed in almost any room, whether above grade or below grade, over existing flooring, wood sub-floor or concrete. With the introduction of today’s exotic hardwoods, the colors, grain patterns and custom design options are virtually limitless.   

Today, modern hardwood flooring goes through much greater manufacturing processes than hardwood flooring from times past, so that it is more beautiful and much more durable with protective, no wax finishes, that are more scratch resistant and more water resistant to improve the quality and endurance of the hardwood flooring.

At Woodwudy Wholesale Flooring, we are here for you! If you need any assistance or additional information, please call our trained flooring specialists at 1-877-966-3983.

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