A brief history of floor sanding

November 9, 2015

The sequel Stephen Hawking never got round to write.


Part one.


The term sanding actually comes from the earliest practices of smoothing a wooden floor by rubbing sand over it by hand. Of course. It all makes sense now, right? In the 15th and 16th centuries, oak and elm were predominant and very easy to come by in this country. The upper-reaches of society would undoubtedly rejoice at the stone-and-wood-covered floors and congratulate themselves on their wealth, taste and power, sparing not a thought for the men who, on their hands and knees and for days at a time, nail each two foot wide board into the joists, would hand scrape the wooden boards clean and level, before rubbing with sand and returning to their humble dwellings to enjoy the feeling of cool earth under their feet.


Skip then to the Baroque period of the 17th and early 18th century. No longer was it enough for the well-healed to revel in their wooden flooring alone. The great artistic revolution that had started this classic period in Rome had filtered across Europe and anyone who was anyone wanted intricate, complex designs on their floors. Curves. Lots and lots of curves. Wood floors were still oak or elm, but cut into blocks and laid in interesting and intricate patterns-parquetry, or laid with thin pieces of veneer into patterns- marquetry. If you were new to all this, and a bit tight, you could have had your floors painted in a similar style, but people would have talked.


More to follow. Stay tuned.




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