Hardwood flooring made from pine was typical of the early Victorian era, but for warmth, carpets were often placed on top of the wooden floors. Wood flooring was used in the main rooms of a home, while tile was sufficient for other areas. The flooring was laid lengthwise and not in an elaborate style. Painting it with a decorative colour was considered normal for the era. Different wood flooring options were available for the different classes of the early Victorian era.
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In the early Victorian era, wood planks were customarily used for flooring. Most were laid by hand and then painted to conceal the wood look. The planks varied in widths and were not symmetrical in their installation. In better homes, tongue and groove planks of matching widths were installed, waxed and admired. Those who could afford it edged their plank flooring with inlaid parquet designs; others applied stencils to the wood, creating a border.
The Victorian Era and the Industrial Age (1840-1910) brought mass production of "wood carpets," essentially a piece of canvas with thin, 1½-inch strips of wood glued onto the canvas. These carpets rolled up for delivery. Installation, although touted in advertisements as easy, was actually difficult and time-consuming. The wood carpets looked good initially, but squeaks, splits and cracks soon appeared.
Parquetry came into fashion as an edging designed around a timber floor to create a border. Small pieces of wood were geometrically arranged in herringbone, chevron or basket-weave designs and laid from the walls inward. Those who could afford it used parquetry for the entire floor. A less expensive alternative was to use the designs as a border. A carpet could then be placed within the edging for a completed look. Inlaid designs and minute characterisations were incorporated into the parquetry, along with different wood types and colours. Parquetry became an art form highly regarded and admired.
Types of Wood Flooring
Pine was the essential wood flooring of the early Victorian era. It was stained and varnished to imitate the more expensive woods in the main living areas and left plain in bedrooms and secondary rooms. Oak and mahogany were used in homes of the upper classes and while they had a certain elan, these floors were also covered by lush Victorian carpets featuring grand designs. It is the oak and mahogany flooring that has withstood the test of time and is often found in Victorian homes built in that era and still lived in today.
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