The majority of American floors during the first half of the 19th century was bare softwood boards, often laid in random widths, and never stained and varnished. Painting the floorboards was a step above leaving them plain and one that homeowners could undertake themselves. In kitchens, halls, and occasionally bedrooms, paint sealed the softwood, making cleaning easier.
In 1870 Parquet flooring became popular more so to properly show off the oriental carpets that became popular at this time. Most households built before 1870 had softwood floors and could not afford to replace the entire floor with parquet. The solution was using ornate "parquetry floor borders". Another alternative was wood carpeting. In 1894 an article in Household News reported, "wood carpeting is more and more coming into vogue, , as housekeepers understand its advantages in the matter of cleanliness and beauty". Wood carpeting could be laid over existing softwood floors in older houses using wire finishing nails.
Tiles- By mid-century, plain or patterned English tiles was marketed in the United States as "encaustic tiles". Use of encaustic and geometric tiles in vestibules, first floor hallways, and sometimes on verandas, increased during the 1860’s and 1870’s.
Matting-One of the most universally used floor coverings was matting, recommended for almost every room. The term actually included many different types of floor coverings manufactured of at least eight different types of plant material, both foreign and domestic. Matting came in strips, generally no wider than thirty-six inches- that could be seamed together and bordered to create a rug. Matting most often appeared in bedrooms for hygienic reasons.
Drugget-Another floor covering used was drugget. The term- derived from the French word drogue, meaning a "cheap article"-actually referred to an inexpensive, coarse cloth of wool. Drugget had several uses; it could serve as a cover for better carpets, particularly in dining rooms, or as the sole floor covering, or occasionally underneath better rugs. The last quarter of the century saw a decline in the use of druggets except possibly in the dining room.
Carpeting-There were three main types of carpeting. The first being broad loom which was made with rags and yarns colored in a variety of hues. The second and more common was Venetian which was a striped carpet. The third type was ingrain, a reversible, patterned carpet. The scale of the pattern should conform to the size of the room. 1870-1890-Oriental carpets laid over wooden floors formed an aesthetically superior floor. The critics preference for hardwood floors combined with exotic oriental carpets, started a new fashion for floor coverings. The last quarter of the century saw a great change in carpet patterns. Gone were the bold floral designs with the emphasis more toward mosaic and oriental patterns. Also the over colors were not as bright and bold.
Floorcloths, generally called "oilcloths" and linoleum by mid-century, offered an alternative to paint or carpeting. Linoleum in kitchens and halls became more prominent in that latter half of the century.