Wall to wall carpet was king. Installation was still much more laborious than it is today; before the advent of the power sander, wood floors had to be scraped smooth by hand. Wood carpet was still in use, and was still extremely popular, and is in many of our homes today. The designs and patterns were woven into the rug, like a French Aubousson rug. Original wood floors are a prized feature—when they have survived. Most of our wood … Dan Cooper has written and published two books on architecture, a serialized novella about old house restoration and over 1,000 national magazine articles on the subjects of antiques, historic interiors and architecture. Paint adheres well to pine. This required two men: One stood in a pit beneath a huge log that had been squared with hand tools, while the other perched atop it. Carpet from this period was reversible, as the weave was not the tufted punched carpet that we are used to today. I like to go to open houses with friends who are looking to buy, or for myself, to satisfy my curiosity about places in my neighborhood that I’ve always wanted to see. Using wide-plank flooring can help a new addition blend with an old house. Although the wide floorboards were butted together on installation, gaps would open between them due to fluctuations in temperature and humidity, allowing damp, cold air to pass into the living area from the basement. Were the original owners cheap? By the 1890s, it was 3/8 thick, still glued to a muslin back, and then nailed down with finishing nails. The same is almost never true for tile, laminate, vinyl or even engineered wood floors. Patterns of Grilles, Mantels, Wood Carpet, From Pakistan to Brooklyn: A Quick History of the Bathroom, From Open Hearths to Open Plan: 350 Telling Years of Kitchen History, America’s Imitation Plaster: Tin Ceilings. The hardwood floors of this period were typically white oak, chestnut, maple, or black walnut milled into 2"- to 3"-wide boards. Maple was popular in kitchens due to its strength and resilience, since it had no open pores that might absorb spills. The introduction of engineered wood floors made wood more affordable, even if it is a less than stellar product. Did someone tear out the floors? Eastlake, in his widely read book Hints on Household Taste, was an influential proponent of area rugs laid upon hardwood floors. With tongue-and-groove installation, the nails are driven through the tongue, forcing the boards together; this also conceals the nail holes, creating an unmarred surface. But the Victorian and Craftsman revivals of the late 20th century saw a renewed interest in hardwood flooring, along with the use of reclaimed lumber to replicate early floors. This gave the appearance of a high-end floor with a much lower price tag, since homeowners only shelled out for the fancy border. We provide Antique Flooring in a wide range of reclaimed wood varieties, sizes, and styles ranging from rustic to elegant. Depending upon your selections, the total cost for hardwood … It had an attractive border, as well. In the space of a few years, the trend shifted from wall to wall carpet to hardwood floors and exotic carpets from the Orient, a trend which would carry well into the next century. The tile was expensive, but long lasting, and worth the expense, as it was easy to clean, and the patterns were very attractive. During the 1880s, the Decorative Wood Carpet Company of Warren, Ohio, carried over 50 patterns. Straw matting was still extremely popular for bedrooms, especially in the summer, and in warmer climates. In the middle of the room, which was originally a bedroom, was a large square space which was not parqueted, and was originally subfloor, although someone had taken up the carpet, probably long ago, and substituted vinyl tile. To clean these floors, they were usually scrubbed with sand and a wire brush, or sometimes bleached with lye. Oriental rugs were the new carpet, rugs made by the hand of craftsmen, not machines. By the last decade of the 19th century, and well into the 20th, hardwood floors became the norm for all new construction. With the exception of a handful of Colonial era houses, most of the oldest brownstones and frame houses in our oldest neighborhoods are from the 1830s to the late 1850s. Antique Wood Flooring. Reclaimed wood imparts the look of centuries-old boards. I have yet to come across a solid wood floor that couldn’t be repaired. Don’t cast pearls before swine. The history of wood flooring begins in colonial America when the first floors were wide, thick planks cut from the continent’s abundant old-growth forests. Early wood floors, like this one at the 1805 Woodlawn Plantation, were typically untreated. Before that time, wood was indeed the predominant material used in flooring, but its appearance was much humbler than you might expect. Converting the timber into usable lumber was an arduous process; the introduction of the circular saw was decades away, and the predominant method available to create dimensional boards was to pit-saw the logs into planks. Eastlake, Morris, and their American counterparts were adamant on this principle. The best parquet was 7/8 thick, put together with tongue and groove edges. Now, when the wood shrank and drew apart, the gap was concealed by the edge of the adjacent board. Photo by Susan De Vries. Gleaming tongue-and-groove hardwood floors might seem like the standard for old houses, but that wasn’t always the case, as a trip through wood flooring history illustrates. Parquet borders were popular for achieving a high-end look; similar treatments are available from modern manufacturers. The carpet could also be used as wainscoting, and the company also made floor medallions and borders. In this case don’t cover with parquetry. Structural-grade tongue-and-groove floorboards, typically pine or lower-grade oak, were typically a uniform 6" to 8" in width, much narrower than the wider pit-sawn planks of the 17th and 18th centuries.