Flooring Education and History
It’s important to understand what you’re standing on and how modern flooring came to be today.
3,000 B.C.: The Egyptians develop stone construction, and stone and brick floors begin to appear.
2,000 B.C.: Rugs are on the scene in one form or another.
1,000 B.C.: The Greeks create pebble mosaics for their floors.
400 A.D.: The earliest known wood floors are found during the Middle Ages. At first, rough-hewn planks are laid down. Eventually the wood is sanded and later stained or varnished.
1200 A.D.: Rubber floors first appear and remain popular until the
1600s: Rubber is known as a resilient floor, which also includes linoleum and vinyl.
1502 A.D.: Iran (once known as Persia) develops the art of rug weaving. The patterns are still used today in rugs around the world and are highly valued.
1791 A.D.: The carpet industry in the United States begins when William Sprague starts the first woven carpet mill in Philadelphia.
Early 1800s: Erastus Bigelow permanently reshapes the industry with the invention of the power loom for weaving carpets. Also at this time, tile floors become popular in Europe.
1863 A.D.: An English rubber manufacturer, Frederick Walton, patents linoleum after noticing how linseed oil forms a leathery skin on top of paint.
Late 1800s: The tufted carpet industry begins. A young Dalton, Georgia, woman, Catherine Evans Whitener, recreates a bedspread in a hand-crafted pattern to give as a wedding gift. Copying a quilt pattern, she sews thick cotton yarns with a running stitch into unbleached muslin, clips the ends of the yarn so they fluff out and, finally washes the spread in hot water to hold the yarns in by shrinking the fabric.
1926 A.D.: American inventor Dr. Waldo Semon creates what we now call PVC (polyvinyl chloride) or vinyl. Used to insulate wires during World War II, it becomes popular as a floor covering after the war.
1930s: As the demand for bedspreads increases, the first mechanized tufting machine, attributed to Glen Looper Foundry of Dalton, is developed. Mats and rugs are created with the same process, using cotton yarns and fabric. After World War II, volume increases rapidly for these items. The most popular bedspread pattern, outselling all other 12 to 1, is the Peacock – feathered birds facing each other and spreading tails over the breadth of the spread. During this time, machinery is developed to make chenille rugs and is then widened, creating larger rugs and broadloom carpet.
1946 A.D.: Star Dye Company, a small business that dyes tufted scatter rugs, is the “seed” operation that will eventually grow to by Shaw Industries, the world’s largest carpet producer and one of the largest flooring manufacturers.
1954 A.D.: Wool and man-made fibers – polyester, nylon, rayon, and acrylics – are gradually introduced by textile producers in Dalton. Most manufacturers will agree that the single most important development in the industry is the introduction in the 50s of bulk continuous filament nylon yarns.
1961 A.D.: The tufting industry blossoms into a $133 million per year business made up primarily of bedspreads, carpet, and rugs, with carpet accounting for $19 million.
Late 1990s: Laminate flooring finds a following in the United States. Laminate, one of the newer floors, was first used on countertops, tables and as wall paneling. As research grew, the relative strength of flooring laminate increased dramatically to at least 20 times that of countertops. Laminate’s ease of use, light weight and self-installation appeal set it apart from traditional flooring.
Today: Dalton is known as the “Carpet Capital of the World.” The area produces more than 70 percent of the total output of the worldwide $9 billion industry.
The Carpet and Rug Institute
North American Laminate Flooring Association