As you might’ve imagined, hardwood flooring has not been around forever. Indeed, many of the decorative luxuries we enjoy today were not exactly commonplace centuries ago. Dating back to an earlier time, that shiny wood floor you now walk on everyday might’ve been a luxury only the noble could relish. So when exactly does the history of hardwood begin?
A Less Fortunate Era: The History of Hardwood Flooring
Historians estimate that wood flooring didn’t make its debut until as late as the 1600s. And at this time, most European homes didn’t have wood floors unless they were among the noble classes. Before this emergence, many homes had floors that were simply smoothed over with dirt, with second floor buildings often comprising a primitive wooden joist system. Still, even in these earlier time periods, wood flooring was not what it is today. As you can see, they held a few rather glaring contrasts:
- Wood floors were not sanded or finished
- Unlike popular oak and maple species, they were typically made of slow-growth pine
- Smoothing and polishing was accomplished simply by everyday foot traffic
It wasn’t until the late 1800s and early 1900s until hardwood floors went into mass production, although the glamorous parquetry wood styles were still reserved for the affluent. With the conception of “tongue and groove,” wood flooring became more widely available. With this development, boards were able to fit together like a puzzle, which eliminated wide gaps and made the floor more level. When a new generation of home buyers arrived, following the post-WWII housing boom, a new rush for hardwood flooring ensued. And thanks to a lack of professionals in the industry to install new flooring, manufacturers set out to produce prefinished flooring, en masse. Following a dormant hardwood period — when carpet and tile had a firm handle on the industry — wood flooring made a swift return. This was around the mid-1990s, when the industry began making more durable finishes and producing more quality prefinished hardwood.
Top 3 Takeaways on a Brief History of Hardwood Flooring
- Wood floors have been around for quite some time, but have only become commonplace within the past two centuries.
- Hardwood of the distant past was not sanded or finished.
- While the popularity of wood flooring has experienced many booms and busts over the decades, it is one of the most popular flooring choices today.
These days, homes are brimming with allergens and chemicals, with over half of the U.S. population suffering from one or more allergies. This is one reason why hardwood has been steadily on the rise over the past two decades. Find out more about allergy-friendly flooring at Just Around the Corner in St. Louis, MO. And while you’re at it, download your allergy-friendly coupon to save up to $1000 on your next hardwood purchase!