Since the beginning of time, the history of civilization has been reflected in the type of flooring materials used for interior spaces. It has been a long time since floors were just composed of packed sod and sand, or the old adobe clay covered the floors of most housing. Today’s homes come in a variety of flooring materials.
In Ancient Rome, floors were adorned with inlays of ebony and fine woods or ornate mosaics utilizing the techniques and skilled labor of that era. Medieval Europe was accustomed to rustic floors that were damp pavements covered with rush and dried grass mats. Sand and rough-hewn planks later replaced the pavement. Throughout the south, tile floors were the norm to keep homes as cool and as clean as possible.
France and England were at the forefront of developing the wood parquet floors in geometrics patterns and chevron patterns that are used even today. The random planks of pine that were used in early American homes have been refined into regular planks or a beautiful uniform finish.
The most important characteristic in choosing a floor is its durability and appropriateness for the location. Whichever material is selected, the subflooring and underlayment play a great role in its installation and maintenance over time.
Stone or marble flooring have always garnered the accolades of the best flooring with an air of grandeur and elegance, which is why so many times they are selected for entry halls and foyers of public buildings as well as living rooms of houses of a certain stature. These stone and marble floors can be finished from mirror-like polish to matte honed finishes, making them quite adaptable to most types of decor.
Wood floors have come a long way from the days of random planks to fine inlaid woods. Today, wood floors are produced in mass for almost every budget, from solid wood planks to pre-engineered material to withstand changes in temperatures and humidity. Recent trends have wood-look floors made of ceramic and porcelain for a longer lasting product with ease of maintenance. These wood-look floors can be mopped or hosed down.
Another soft flooring material is cork. This is available in tile or in sheets. It’s great for areas that are dry and where one will be standing for along time. These floors will periodically need to be replaced as because of their soft nature they wear easily.
Clay products such as ceramic tiles, brick and mosaic tiles have been around since the beginning of time. Today’s products can emulate almost any material or pattern and print you like, thanks to the advances of digital printing. One can have tile that looks like a photographic image of water, of leaves or whatever one fancies under foot.
Laminate flooring is the latest product to hit the mass market. Many of these products are made from recycled materials or recyclable products. The surface can be made to look like wood planks, tiles or anything your imagination can dream up.
Avoid making decisions on flooring just based on looks. Think about the wear and tear over time. Things such as ladies high heel shoes, the dragging of chairs in and out of dining tables and exterior elements such as sand and grime will take a toll. Make an educated decision that takes everything into consideration.
Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Fla. To find out more about Joseph Pubillones, or to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.