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History of Floorcloths

Floorcloths date back to Europe and Early America and originally designed by the Quakers as floor coverings that were popular in the 18th and 19th century.  Most designs were plain, geometric or marble.

At least three of our presidents had floorcloths. George Washington purchased them for Mt. Vernon. When John Adams left the White House, there was a floorcloth listed in the inventory. Thomas Jefferson had at least two floorcloths in the Presidential Mansion — one in the small dining room “to secure a very handsome floor from grease and the scouring which that necessitates” and one in the great hall.

Floorcloths were rather considered expensive. George Washington’s purchase of one in January 1796 cost $14.28 and took it with him when he left the presidency.

Because seamless floorcloths frequently fitted an entire room, floorcloth factories were built near sail making centers in seaports.  As time progressed, engine power replaced floorcloths with Linoleum, and other factory-made flooring.


Floorcloths are slowly resurfacing as many people are replacing carpeting for hardwood floors, topping the wood with an area rug, protecting the wood from dirt and water damage and adding to the decor.


Today’s floorcloths are made as they were centuries ago, with a heavyweight cotton canvas that is hemmed, primed, decorated and sealed with seven coats of varnish to protect and enhance colors.  The final product is topped with Butcher’s Wax to enhance the beauty.

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