Hand-painted flooring

The building my wife and I moved into the second story of last week was built in 1885, with an addition that basically doubled its size in 1895. We’ve been tearing up some nasty carpet upstairs, and underneath some of it lies this ~115 year old gem:


My father found something he believes to be this same flooring, or a description of this flooring, in a copy of an 1896 Sears catalog he has in his possession. Apparently it’s a handmade precursor to linoleum. Some sort of oil was applied to burlap — I caught a glimpse of the burlap when pulling up carpet in a different room today — and then the flooring is hand-painted. This particular design, in a building that was originally a bank, reminds me of a Piet Mondrian painting.

The photo above was taken in the only room the flooring seems salvageable. At some point it was painted brown and covered with carpet, but that paint seems to be coming off easily enough. We’ll see.


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at pcNielsen.com.

4 Responses to Hand-painted flooring

  1. Kcal says:

    I don’t follow how you are dating this with any certainty whatsoever. Just because this general sort of flooring was manufactured in 1896 does not mean your flooring was produced that same year.

    • pcNielsen says:

      Indeed, but I don’t know what the big deal is one way or the other. And I didn’t say that it was from 1896 if you read closely.

      From what I was told a more modern form of what we know of as linoleum was fast on the heals of this product. The value isn’t so much in its age anyway; it’s more in the handcrafted nature of the object.

  2. Amy G says:

    You might be looking at 1940s lino which had a very different surface than today’s lino. Your design comes up in Service Bond’s flooring guide, page 123 of this book: https://archive.org/stream/Sloane-blabonFloorCoverings/Sloane-BlabonCorporation0001#page/n125/mode/2up

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