As I see it….nothing compares to original hardwood flooring in a century home. The charm of original flooring is hard to duplicate, although there are many wonderful options on the market today.
Hardwood floors are known for their beauty and durability, sometimes increasing the value of a home by as much as 6%,(according to some surveys). No doubt, hardwood floors are in the top five “must haves” with buyers in today’s market.
Hardwood evokes feelings of solidity, quality and warmth. Many older homes built in the early 20th century have hardwood floors, while many homes built in the 19th century feature the less valuable softwood floors. Over the years, your floors may have been buried by layers of varnish, linoleum, vinyl or carpeting. To determine what kind of floor lies beneath your feet, you’ll need to do a little detective work. If you are viewing a potential home for purchase which has wall to wall carpeting, linoleum or vinyl…. gently lift up a heat register or any other accessible area in the room to view what lies beneath….hopefully hardwood flooring. Luckily…the hardwood may have been preserved through many years of being covered.
Wood floors in the 1800’s were typically left bare and swept, scrubbed and sanded clean. By the turn of the 19th century, prominent rooms such as the living room/parlour, dining room and hallways, were brightened with a linseed oil or beeswax floor polish.
Flooring in Victorian and Arts and Crafts Homes (1837-1905)
Plain pine floors were used throughout most Victorian homes. During the Arts & Crafts period, wood and stone were the only acceptable forms of flooring. With pine being used extensively, oak and fir planks were considered acceptable.
During the 1860’s floors were covered with rugs and surrounds were stained or polished with beeswax and turpentine to create the effect of a better time. During this time frame, floors were also being painted in Indian reds and deep blues. In Arts & Crafts homes…oak was polished.
Tongue and groove or face nailing were the norm.
Flooring and wall panelling was being stained in similar dark tones. However, staining was reserved for inferior woods.
Flooring in Edwardian Homes (1901-1914)
Tongue and groove boards became the most popular form of flooring in homes. Entrance halls were normally tiled.
Pine boards were widely used, oak and teak were reserved for grand houses and villas.
Polished oak and teak were found in grander houses. Pine was varnish-stained around the edges to frame a carpet and rug. Wall-to-wall carpets were introduced, initially into the principal reception rooms. Parquet became popular. Parquet in suburban houses was usually constructed from panels of thinner blocks fixed to a cloth backing. The most common parquet style was herringbone, stained or polished and found in kitchens, hallways and living rooms.