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Floor Focus: The History of Hardwood

Few home-building materials have stood the test of time quite like hardwood. It’s been a building block for US homes since the 1700s, and for hundreds (maybe even thousands) of years prior in other places around the world.

2 min read
Published on July 01, 2022

Few home-building materials have stood the test of time quite like hardwood. It’s been a building block for US homes since the 1700s, and for hundreds (maybe even thousands) of years prior in other places around the world. Known and loved for its beauty, strength, and longevity, solid hardwood continues to be a go-to flooring selection for homeowners, whether they’re refinishing old flooring or laying new boards down to last for generations into the future.

Here, we’re taking a look at the long, impressive history of hardwood flooring, and exploring some modern choices you can make to bring natural warmth and history into your own home.


living room with solid hardwood flooring
Featured Floor: Virginia Mill Works Winter Solstice Hickory Solid Hardwood Flooring


From Egypt to Versailles

Though it hasn’t always looked (or felt) as polished as it does today, hardwood has been a go-to choice for flooring in structures dating back to 3000 B.C. There’s evidence that ancient Egyptians used timber, smoothed with quartz sand, to reinforce and protect stairs and flooring. Ancient Greeks and Romans are often credited with perfecting the art of veneer and wood inlays, pushing the envelope of innovation with adhesives and bonding agents made from materials like fish glue and egg whites.

Fast forward a thousand-or-so years, where the Middle Ages saw timber—largely oak—as a commonly harvested resource for flooring in castles and other major structures. With the construction of the Palace of Versailles in the 1660s came one of the most well-known parquet floors in history, stretching a length of 246 feet through the Hall of Mirrors. This marked a new beginning of wood floors being used in a decorative, luxurious capacity, according to Wood Floor Business.


close up image of winter solstice hickory solid hardwood flooring
Winter Solstice Hickory Solid Hardwood shown. See this and many more species, styles, and colors by shopping all hardwoods,
or a tremendous selection of unfinished wood flooring.


Hardwood in the U.S.

With the influx of European colonists settling in North America in the 1700s, timber, specifically pine, was a reliable, accessible material for homes as new communities were being quickly built along the East Coast. Completed in 1730, Stenton, a familial estate in Philadelphia, is one of the oldest remaining homes with its original wood floors. Long, uniform floor boards were a coveted mark of wealth, while boards varying in width and length were often found in poorer households.

Around the mid-19th century, the tongue-in-groove design that we know and love today became ubiquitous in high-end homes. It was uncommon to see high-gloss finishes or varnish, but it was fashionable to paint your floors in shades of yellow, brown, gray, or deep red, often in geometric patterns to mimic the look of marble flooring.


oak hardwood flooring
Bellawood Artisan Amherst Oak Solid Hardwood Flooring, 5 in. width.


Enduring Quality

Hardwood floors have continued as a cornerstone of American home building ever since, with today’s homeowners seeking to return older hardwood floors to their former glory, or install new hardwood to stand the test of time. The classic material is known and loved for its warmth, durability, versatility, and tradition.

Each of these qualities are on-display in LL Flooring’s Bellawood Amherst Oak, which suits a range of styles from historic, rustic farmhouse to modern Scandinavian escape. 

Visit LL Flooring's Wood Page to view all solid, engineered, and unfinished hardwood flooring choices and order free samples shipped to you with just a few clicks.

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