Antique and hardwood floors have become the ultimate design signature in recent years, but their roots go back a long way. In Tudor and Jacobean times wooden floors mostly of oak and sometimes elm, were found on the upper stories of houses and cottages, cobbles would have been used on the ground floor where the animals were kept. Boards were much wider than the ones we see today, often as wide as 24 inches.
As we move into the Baroque period (1625-1714) the theme of using wood on the upper levels continues, except around the East Midlands where lime putty on laths (thin strips of wood) was used. More expensive wooden floors were laid in patterns using woods of several colours. A less expensive way of creating the same effect was to paint patterns on the floorboards.
In early Georgian times, the finish below stairs was stone paving. Wood plank floors, laid over joists were used elsewhere in the house. The most common was oak, and later houses used Elm and by late 18th century pine was more common. These planks were often about 12 inches wide rather than 24 inches, but mixed boards were often used. They were left untreated and often scrubbed or scoured with sand. Boards began to get narrower as time went on, down to 8-10 inches and in some large expensive houses they began to stain and polish the margins of the room to provide a framed carpet look.
Also by the 18th century the upper classes began to install wooden block floors such as oak, elm or yew in their houses. In the 1820′s tongue and groove boards were beginning to be introduced and were increasingly machine made and of a more uniform width using well seasoned wood.
In Victorian times, wood flooring was very popular in ‘masculine’ rooms, such as billiard rooms, libraries and studys. The wooden floors were often accompanied by wood pannelling on the walls or imitation leather paper. The masculine scene was completed by brown leather armchairs, bottle green velvet curtains and antique armour or stag heads adorning the walls. This was in complete contrast to rooms used by the whole family which appeared more feminine and elegant.
Chene Ancien is our traditional oak flooring and is indistinguishable from genuine reclaimed boarding. Carefully prepared over many weeks in deep ammonia vats, before re-kilning and machining to give a finish appropriate for listed buildings or heritage work, giving an old original look. We can also provide reclaimed oak floorboards when available.
In these modern times that we live in we’re looking at ways to increase the comfort of our homes yet keep the style and design. So engineered board has been introduced for those of us thinking of installing under floor heating. This board is resistant to swelling, twisting, warping , shrinkage and movement that comes with the constant change in temperature. It looks the same as the solid oak as most engineered boards have 4-6mm of oak on the top. Masco provides boards which have 5-6mm on top of the engineered. Below is an example of engineered board available at Masco.
Reclaimed boards, either in oak, pine or elm are very popular now as people start to patch wooden floors in renovation projects. Many carpets are being pulled up these days to reveal original wooden floors, which with a bit of TLC can be restored to a beautiful floor.
Download our pdf technical guide to wood flooring for some help and inspiration. Wood Flooring Technical Guide