2 weeks ago

March 2018


ARROYO HOME & DESIGN SPECIAL ADVERTISING SUPPLEMENT PHOTO: Courtesy of Saxum Tile Design Studios THE FLOOR’S THE THING Old Methods Meet New Ideas In Surfaces Approximately 5,000 years ago, give or take a century, someone looked down at the dirt beneath their feet in ancient Persia. “Hmm,” said this unknown ancestor. “Dirt is nice. But what if we put something over the dirt?” History doesn’t record the name or any details of this person and their amazing insight into human comfort. But that small step for mankind spawned the fl ooring and surfaces industry, a multi-billion-dollar business that each day touches virtually everyone on the planet in some form. Whether it’s wood, tile, carpeting, vinyl, bamboo or some other exotic material - even dirt, in some parts of the world - the fl oors in your home provide comfort, cleanliness, warmth, style and a statement about your lifestyle. The fl ooring industry started out using items that were laying around the home. Hay, straw, even dried cow dung has been used for fl ooring in ancient homes. Once the materials were stomped down, they hardened to a consistency akin to cement. Because animals often shared the home with humans back in the day - and we’re talking livestock, not dogs or cats - it was not uncommon to just throw household waste on the fl oor and tramp it down. Of course, it gradually smelled, so one of the fi rst uses of BY BRUCE HARING mint was as a counter-agent to the smell of the fl oor. A few sprigs crushed on the fl oor fi lled the air with a minty freshness - mixed with dung, of course. Gradually, civilization evolved. The ancient Egyptians are credited as the fi rst to use stone and brick for fl oors, and the clever construction engineers of the period also made them into works of art, augmenting them with colorful tiles. Things evolved from there. The Greeks made pebble mosaics; the Romans used stone, and added a nice touch when they devised a method of warming the cold stone fl oors. As the Roman empire spread, so did the art of decorative tile, as the Middle East, Turkey and other locations picked up the empire’s lessons in fl ooring decoration. The modern era for tile arrived in 1843 in England, and became popular in North America as early as the 1500s. Wood fl oors also began making an appearance, although the rough planks needed smoothing before installation and were not nearly as durable as today’s wood fl ooring. In our world now, there are numerous choices, from wall-to-wall carpeting (lately out of favor) to colorful tiles with hidden heating, and, of course, the beloved hardwood fl oors. Trends in fl ooring move slowly, but they do arrive. Engineered wood options emerged in the 1960s, while laminate came into vogue in 1970. –continued on page 25 22 | ARROYO | 03.18

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