We’ve come a long way since the only flooring available was dried mud and fresh soil. Of course, this was far from the ideal flooring as it became mud when wet. Later our mud floors were covered with reeds, ferns, straw and other plants. People and their livestock shared their living space, which was hardly hygienic, but the animal waste became compressed when it was trampled on and this eventually became as hard as concrete. You might think that our ancestors had no thought for hygiene, but they did use mint to neutralise the body smells of both humans and animals.
Stone flooring was next
Around 5,000 years ago, the ancient Egyptians had flooring made of natural stone, which is still used today. In fact, it is prized for kitchens whose owners are striving for the natural look. In the UK farmhouses traditionally had stone floors, and some still have them, although they are now covered with vinyl, tiles or water-resistant carpets. Now you can also get vinyl tiles and laminate that look like stone or slate from the range of Karndean Art Select vinyl tiles.
Mosaics and marble
The ancient Greeks made mosaics on floors and walls, and many people today pay to have mosaics set into walls and small floor areas. If you search, you can find artists who will install mosaics in your home, but it’s so much cheaper to have laminate tiles on your floor, such as the ones in the Quick-Step flooring range.
The ancient Greeks were very fond of marble, but when wet, this is very slippery. Perhaps they didn’t go out when it was raining, or maybe slaves carried them in litters. It would have been difficult to recover from broken bones in those days. At least today you can buy Karndean Art Select vinyl tiles which look like marble.
Solid hardwood wooden floors were next, and these lasted for centuries as you will know if you have visited old manor houses in the UK. If you have visited Shakespeare’s birthplace, for example, you will probably remember the ancient solid hardwood floors.
Solid hardwood floors certainly stood the test of time. Although they are susceptible to moisture, and wouldn’t fare well in a flood, they are very durable in the normal course of events.
Today’s natural flooring materials
We have many natural materials to choose from to use on our floors. Cork was popular in the late 70s and early 80s for bathroom floors. It seems to have gone out of fashion now even though it is sustainable.
Bamboo flooring is also sustainable, durable and can be manufactured so that they look like wood. These kind of floors in Europe are planks of compressed bamboo rather than the bamboo rods that you might associate with houses in Malaysia and elsewhere in Asia.
The problem with ‘new’ flooring materials is that many Europeans have conservative tastes. Although they purport to have ‘green’ credentials, trees are still being hewn to supply flooring materials.
Hemp is another sustainable material that can be used for indoor flooring. It’s growing in popularity now and could be a flooring of choice (as well as a floor covering) in the coming years.