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The History of Hardwood Flooring

Believe it or not, hardwood flooring has gone through a lot throughout history. Before modern flooring choices, most homes had hardwood flooring or no flooring at all. At some points in time, it was a luxury statement piece, while other years it was a nuisance due to its maintenance. If you like to learn more about this flooring choice, we go over the history of hardwood flooring below.

Early Years

Hardwood floors have been around for hundreds of years. It all started with American colonists building floors out of wide, thick wood planks cut out of the abundant trees the newly settled country had. These unfinished floors were not uniformed and meant for comfort and practicality. Before modern technology or the invention of the saw, two men had to cut hardwood floors by hand. It was a long, hard process that could take months to finish. Due to the board unevenness and the weather, many colonial hardwood floors would split, gap and crack. It would take years before there were more suitable and efficient ways of installing hardwood floors. 


Hardwood started to take a creative turn during the Victorian-era. Just like other aspects during the time, art influenced wood flooring. Many homeowners were painting their hardwood with different designs and colors to bring new life to their homes. Other popular hardwood floor designs during the time were wood planks installed to mimic Medieval churches and cathedrals. Popular wood choices were oak, maple, cherry, ash and birch. Upper-class citizens would use multiple types of wood of different colors to create geometric designs while lower-class individuals used pine wood for their floors. 

End of the 19th Century

At the end of the 19th-century, hardwood flooring started to change. Countries like Britain and America were going through a second Industrial Revolution. During this time, steam-driven woodworking machinery helped the mass production of finished floors. Woodworking machinery also made it to where wood flooring had set widths and lengths, which made installation fast and easy. Floors during the 19th-century were shiny, polished and still reflecting the global arts. 

20th Century

The flooring industry saw many changes throughout the 20th-century, beginning with the Edwardian-era.


With the influence of the Victorian-era, many homes in the Edwardian-era had parquet hardwood floors. Many homeowners preferred oak or walnut parquet floors for cottage-styled homes. Area rugs and throw rugs placed on top of wood floors were super common during this era as well. The most notable thing to mention about hardwood flooring during this period is that it became easier to install. People were using the tongue and groove method, which made floors look even and polished.

The 1930s

During the 30s, new hardwood floor refinish hit the market — polyurethane. Refinished floors kept hardwood floors appealing and inexpensive until carpet arrived after World War II. After World War II until the 1980s, most homeowners stuck with carpet.

The 1980s

By the 80s, many people were looking for an alternative to carpet. That’s where hardwood flooring comes back to play. Homeowners wanted to return to the clean, classic look that prefinished wood gave off. There were still a few issues with installation and cutting, but modern technology would soon fix that. 


Today manufacturers can easily produce finished and unfinished wood planks for installation. Homeowners also have the option of many different types of hardwood including exotic woods. Now, there are also more options in hardwood floor refinishing include satin and matte finishes. 

As technology continues to advance, we guarantee that we will see more amazing features improve on hardwood flooring. If you want hardwood flooring in your Belleville, O’Fallon, Edwardsville or the surrounding areas home, contact Valor Home Services today.