The floors of many large Victorian homes were in oak, maple, cherry, ash, birch, Brazilian cherry, and walnut hardwoods. The more affluent homes had hardwood floors inlaid with variously colored planks arranged in geometrical patterns. This branch of decorative art was known as parquetry. Various designs of hardwood flooring and parquet floors borders were available since the 1860s. When the parquet hardwood flooring border projected two or three feet from the wall all round, the carpet did not need to be placed into the recesses and corners of the room, but was left square at the sides. This inlaid parquet hardwood flooring appeared more artistic and interesting than plain wood flooring.
Nineteenth century homes had splendid Tile Flooring. Entry ways, baths, porches and hallways often were tiled with encaustic and geometric tiles. The varieties of tiles are classed according to their manufacture, irrespective of form or use. Plain tiles were unglazed, glazed or enameled in various colors. Encaustic tiles were unglazed or glazed. The encaustic tiles were individually patterned, while the geometrics were small plain tiles that fit together to make a pattern of squares, triangles or diamonds. There were also Majolica tiles and decorated or painted enameled tiles. Like many Victorian decorative elements, Minton tile became a symbol of social position and good taste.
Floorcloths, or oilcloths, are hand-painted canvas rugs that came in a variety of patterns for antique flooring for the home. These floorcloths were available in different widths from one to two yards wide. This name of floor cloth is applied to a floor covering made of cloth painted over with oil colors, so as to be impenetrable to becoming wet. Floor cloths are very useful in some homes because of its impenetrability to water, and its drying so soon after being wet. They were commonly used in halls, foyers, and kitchens. There is a great variety of styles in the patterns of floorcloths. Some are made to imitate marble designs and some carpets of various kinds. Floorcloths which have several colors with small patterns are the most popular.
Carpets and Rugs
Antique decorative carpets and rugs are wonderful pieces for decorating antique flooring. Carpets were in general use for covering the floors of most homes. Before the use of carpets, the floors of the best houses were laid with oak flooring in the manner called parquetry and they were generally kept highly polished with wax, which sometimes caused them to be unpleasantly slippery. The best carpets were composed all of dyed wool, some had parts made also of hemp. They were made in fanciful patterns, varying in style according to the place of manufacture. In laying down carpets the most complete way was to fit them into all the recesses of the room, but this was also the most expensive. Where economy was an object, the carpet was square or oblong according to the shape of the room, but not fitted into the recesses. The hardwood floor was left bare or painted in oil. Hearth rugs were to save the carpet near the fire, where it was most liable to be worn and also to afford greater warmth and softness to the feet at that place.