Editors' Picks: Choosing Flooring - Restoration & Design for the Vintage House | Old House Online

Editors' Picks: Choosing Flooring

Get a leg up on old-house floors. Our editors highlight new and classic articles on flooring, and show us a way to fix a squeaky spot.
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English encaustic tiles

English encaustic tiles, here in a New York City brownstone vestibule. (Photo: Alan Weintraub)

There's no denying that flooring is essential to the allure of old houses. In contrast to the bland beige carpeting that often blankets new construction, the well-loved hardwood, tile, and linoleum floors of vintage homes hint at the thousands of footsteps that have trod their surfaces over the years. On the downside, all that wear and tear can make old-house floors a top-of-the-list maintenance item.

Whether you need to refinish your home's original floors or start from scratch to correct a previous owner's remuddle, these articles will get you off on the right foot.

wide-plank pine floor

Only a face-nailed, wide-plank pine floor, without gloss, looks right in a ca. 1690 bedroom.

Flooring Options for Period Homes: The flooring you choose sets the style, period, and tone for the room.

hand-painted floor

For a compass rose, paint reproduces the look of inlaid wood species. (Artist Susan Amons: susanamons.com)

Traditional Painted Floors: Produce artful floors with ages-old techniques and some paint.

Variable width wide-plank floors in this early dwelling were probably cleaned, when they were new, with a mixture of lye and water. They’ve been painted to help preserve their character.

Variable width wide-plank floors in this early dwelling were probably cleaned, when they were new, with a mixture of lye and water. They’ve been painted to help preserve their character.

Touching Up Old Floors: Floors may suffer indignities as they age, even as they develop patina. Refreshing a basically sound floor will keep it serviceable. Given care and respect, a wood, stone, tile, or resilient floor will last for many decades and beyond.

old-house bathroom

Old-house bathroom with mosaic tile.

Best Bets for Bathrooms: There’s a reason why resilient flooring types and ceramic tile are the go-to floorings for utility areas in the home.

Wood flooring has beautified homes for centuries. Today it’s available in many varieties.

Wood flooring has beautified homes for centuries. Today it’s available in many varieties. 

Hardwood vs. Engineered Flooring
Which type of wood flooring is best for old houses? The answer depends on where you plan to use it.

Drive nails into a hardwood floor to fix a squeak

Drive nails into a hardwood floor to fix a squeak

How To Fix a Squeaky Floor
Two easy methods for silencing annoying squeaks in your hardwood floors.

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Unico System

A central heating and cooling system using "aspiration" technology to warm and cool homes evenly and quietly with flexible small ducts that weave through ceilings, walls, and even floors.

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Nostalgic Warehouse

Classic-style door hardware, engineered for new construction or historic renovation, lacquer-coated, solid brass, patterned after original antique hardware, passage, privacy, mortise lock, or dummy sets and cabinet hardware and accessories.