Every day our feet walk on floors that we seldom consider a foundation of our history and progression. When one pauses to consider the evolution of the floor it’s quite a journey.
Many of us have pets, but centuries ago, peasants shared their shelter with their livestock. Usually, there was a petition that kept the family in separate quarters from the animals, however, animals often found their way into the family’s living quarters. Earthen floors had their place.
Castles boasted wooden floors though ground floors were mostly plaster or stone.
Regardless of whether it was peasant’s quarters or a castle, straw was placed on the floor to offer cushioning, warmth and keep the slate floors from being slippery in the winter. Sometimes they’d add an “air freshener such as fresh lavender. While we vacuum today, our ancestors swept up the straw and replaced with fresh straw on a regular basis.
America’s early settlers added sand, peanut and sunflower seed shells to the top of their floors. The nut shells would spread oil into the ground to help control the dust.
The native American Yokuts used their bare feet on the dirt floors of their homes. The oil from their feet eventually made the ground watertight.
In India, colored sand on the floors evolved to the art form, rangoli. A painting is formed from rice powder and flower petals on mud floors. Typically the “art” was created to mark important occasions or near the door to greet visitors.
The Egyptians are known for their stonework in the architecture of the pyramids. They also created stone floors in their homes, making works of art with colored tiles and patterns, known as mosaics.
Roman’s used stone floors for heat. Using a basement made of pillars, the floor had a vent at one end of the basement, where a fire burned on the opposite end, heating the stone floor. The Romans originated tile-making that was forgotten after Rome’s demise and didn’t become popular again until the mid-1800s when Herbert Minton brought it to the forefront of England’s population.
Wooden planks were used as flooring during the middle ages.
Sometimes flooring came as the result of trial and error. Vinyl chloride was mixed with a gas in the late 1800s when European researchers and found to create a rigid material that no one could think of a use for, until 1926 when American inventor, Dr. Waldo Semon, attempted to bond rubber to metal. After many attempts, occasional explosions PVC was discovered. Polyvinyl chloride was used as shock absorbers, synthetic tires, wire insulation in WWII and once the war ended became the must-have flooring.
Today floors range from inlaid wood, polished stone, carpet, linoleum and more. The evolution of flooring is an amazing journey. Flooring is an individual choice and options seem limited only by one’s imagination.