Before we talk flooring, I need to thank all of you for giving Franchise and Follies such a friendly welcome. It is performing better than expected, and I’m elated. That should be enough to get me to start on that next book, but I will admit, my focus for this month continues to be on my family’s move. We are having some work done on the house before we move in, so we are in that awkward stage of spending time between two locations—meeting with contractors at one home and returning to pack at another. I grow frustrated by the challenges of living among so many boxes, but the end is in sight, and I have high hopes that all of this hassle will be well worth it.
Although I have done little writing, I read about the history of flooring. During our renovations, the contractor removed the wall to wall carpet, and in one room, he discovered a surprise—more carpet.
Lovely, isn’t it? The 40 years of dust gives off Miss Havisham vibes, don’t you think? Back to the point…
This older carpet was held in place with glued rather than tack strips. I hadn’t seen this installation method used in residential properties before, so I went on-line to find out if this was ever a common practice. I didn’t receive a satisfactory answer, but I learned some interesting facts.
During the Regency period, tile was gaining a foothold, but carpet was still the most popular flooring for those hoping to show-off their wealth. Originally produced on a narrow loom, they sewed together strips to achieve the required width. Carpet was rather expensive, so it was not uncommon for homeowners to protect their investment by covering it in floor mats or Dugget, the thick canvas you sometimes see underlining modern day rugs. When Dugget was intended as a more permanent part of the room décor, it was painted. I imagine it looked a bit like a patterned drop cloth laid over wall to wall shag.
Most people couldn’t afford carpet and just made do with their subfloors, which were made of a softer woods, like pine. These floors were sometimes painted or stenciled to make them look more like carpet. They too might be covered in Dugget or mats.
Thanks to industrialization, the price of carpet soon dropped, making it an affordable option for everyone. But, as is often the case, as soon as this luxury was available to all, it lost its luster. Charles Eastlake released a very influential book on home decorating during the Victorian Era, and it altered homeowner’s tastes.
Hardwood floors covered in oriental rugs became the hot new trend. To save money, homeowners with soft wood subfloors could install hardwood or parquet borders around the parameter of the room and use the rug to hide the lack of such flooring in the middle of the room. Alternatively, homeowners could buy wood carpet which was made by gluing strips of wood onto heavy cotton cloth.
While hard wood with rugs was the Victorian standard in common rooms, linoleum was the “go to” in work areas, like the kitchen and hallways. Invented around 1860, linoleum is made with linseed oil, gum, cork, and pigments. By the early 1930s, a linoleum alternative was available—vinyl flooring, which is a 100% synthetic material. Then, in 1977, laminate was introduced. The core of laminate flooring is made using wood byproducts and resin. A decorative layer (like a picture of wood) is placed over this core and then a protective layer is put over the top.
The more I read, the more I questioned our flooring choice. There are pros and cons for each option, but our choice doesn’t appear to fair well against the others. We selected our flooring based on price and the ability to find enough boxes in stock to allow our installers to begin immediately. But I take heart. If we chose poorly, I can get busy painting canvases and tell all visitors I’m just really into retro flooring.
On a side note, I have been terrible recently when it comes to marketing or promoting. This means I haven’t been very good about remembering to take advantage of some of the free or discount days Amazon permits authors to do every few months. I tried to rectify that by giving Assumptions & Absurdities away free last week, and this week, discounting Betrothals & Betrayals. Hopefully, you are/were able to take advantage of either of these offers, should you have had the desire.