The Art Of A Vintage Vinyl Floorcloth
Are you searching for a way to introduce something beautiful into a functional area of your home? Would you like to give your floor a new look?
Consider the vintage floorcloth.
These floor coverings are in vogue right now, but they can trace their roots to Colonial America. The first three presidents had them in their homes, which shouldn’t be that surprising: back in those days, everybody owned a floorcloth. Most modern floorcloths are made of heavy fabric which is then coated with several coats of gesso, before being painted with decorative motifs and patterns. They are then varnished to make them waterproof.
Floorcloths vs. Linoleum
Floorcloths were king the 1700s and 1800s. In those days, a floorcloth was a catch-all term for any piece of fabric – usually wool, linen or cotton — that stood in for a carpet regardless of its decorative value.
First manufactured in England, they were imported from Europe before American manufacturers started making floorcloths here. They went by a number of names: painted carpet, oil floor cloth, wax cloth and fancy-pattern cloth.
They were durable, easy to clean, resistant to insects and helped keep rooms warm in the winter and cool in the summer. They could also be quite beautiful, with intricate patterns, country motifs and bright colors.
An Englishman named Frederick Walton patented linoleum in 1860, and by the next decade, factories were mass-producing it and providing an alternative for consumers looking for ways to cover their floors. Linoleum was less expensive, resilient, and often featured the same sort of decorative patterns that you’d find on a floorcloth.
But eventually, floorcloths underwent a fashion resurrection. Designer Maya Romanoff helped reintroduce hand-made floor coverings in the 1970s, part of a floorcloth revival that caught the notice of The New York Times.
“These underfoot scenarios may be flowers painted freehand or quilt-pattern adaptations, stenciled geometrics or even resist-dye,” the newspaper said. “But all are direct descendants of floor cloths made by lean-pocketed 17th-century Americans in admiring imitation of the patterned carpets, opulent parquet or inlaid marble floorings they left behind in Europe.”
Caring for your floorcloth
Floorcloths have become a fashionable once again, with homeowners using them as an alternative to area rugs, which is why we’re pitching the idea of using a vintage floorcloth to decorate your space. They are particularly useful in areas where a water-resistant surface is helpful.
We carry vintage vinyl floorcloths from Spicher and Company, all of them inspired by either authentic floor designs from Colonial Williamsburg or the patterns you’d find in antique linoleum.
They provide a modern twist on vintage flooring and are available in a variety of warm colors with an aged, weathered look. They’re perfect for a country farmhouse kitchen, hallways, entryways and other high traffic areas of your home.
Here are a few other things you should know before you buy:
Floorcloths are perfect for floors made of wood, linoleum, concrete and tile. They will work on thinner Berber-style carpeting, but aren’t meant for more plush types of carpet.
Before installing a vintage floorcloth, clean the space well to keep dirt from getting under the cloth. If you’re placing the floorcloth beneath a table, use clear coasters to protect the surface, and place felt pads below the legs of your chairs.
Floorcloths may look like works of art, but they still serve the same purpose they did in Colonial America. Don’t worry about placing them in high traffic areas. A bit of wear can add some charm. Our floorcloths are easy to clean.
For more information on our floorcloths, visit Piper Classics’ website. There you’ll find vintage floorcloths in dozens of styles and a range of sizes.
With a vintage vinyl floorcloth you can decorate your home the way George Washington did, without having to wait as long for delivery.