Stripped floors – one of those ‘original features’ that homeowners long for and estate agents crow about - are as synonymous with contemporary interiors as open-plan living or Down Pipe grey paintwork.
They’re not new of course: wood has been used below British feet since Tudor times; oak, occasionally elm, later on Baltic fir from northern Europe and pine. The Georgians used polished oak planks in grand residences (and cheap pine for below stairs). But it was the abundant pine forests in colonial America that gave rise to the mass use of bare wood floors – and the Victorians in particular, who used them in domestic architecture (though they stained them to look like mahogany and covered them in rugs). Mass production and tongue-and-groove fixing gave an altogether slicker finish; by the beginning of the Twentieth Century, wood, both cheap and durable, was far and away the most popular domestic flooring.
During the 20thcentury, wood flooring has dipped in and out of fashion: out during the Thirties, when linoleum and cork arrived and then again in the 50s when the invention of nylon suddenly meant scratchy carpets had become affordable. Timber flooring was still laid but was covered up smartish; bare boards were a sign homeowners couldn’t afford more ‘lavish’ coverings.
The revival came in the 70s with the growing trend for building restoration and when central heating meant stripped floors could be an alternative to carpet. By the end of the decade, homeowners were madly hiring out sanding machines to have a crack at restoring their forgotten floorboards (before rediscovering their boarded-up fireplaces). The Eighties saw another minor hiatus (with the comeback of office-grade carpet, linoleum and vinyl) but this lasted as long as the trend for leg warmers, or until the trend for ‘loft–living’ made polished floors fashionable all over again. Now the pendulum is firmly back again to pure natural wood flooring - it’s still ‘now’ to tear up dog-eared carpets. But it’s not just stripped-and-sanded Victorian floors that are on trend; with polished hardwoods, high-quality engineered boards or extra-long planks, wood flooring has been re-invented for the 21stcentury.
Details:The Floor Sanding Experts will restore any existing floorboards, from £12 per sq m for sanding only. When buying new, always look for Forest Stewardship Council (or FSC) - accredited timber which denotes the material is envormentally sound.