Marbleized Canvas Floor Cloth

A marbleized canvas floor cloth at Colonial Williamsburg. In the 18th and 19th centuries, painted canvas floor cloths were used in hallways, kitchens, pantries, dining rooms, and other areas where a waterproof and easily cleaned floor covering was needed.

These forerunners of linoleum and vinyl sheet flooring could be homemade, or factory produced. Typically, they were made by covering thick canvas with several coats of oil paint followed by several coats of varnish. Several lengths of canvas might be sewn together to get the width needed, and the edges were turned under and sewn prior to painting. When fitted wall-to wall, several layers of newspaper were sometimes laid over the wood floor to provide a cushion under the canvas.

Some floor cloths were painted in solid colors, but the majority were painted with patterns or trompe l’oeil effects, such as faux marble blocks (as here) or imitations of carpet patterns.

Painted floor cloths are covered in Chapter 14 of “Restoring Your Historic House, The Comprehensive Guide for Homeowners,” along with a wide range of other historic flooring options.

Signed and personalized copies of the award-winning and bestselling 720-page hardcover book are available from the author in our shop, YourHistoricHouse.com/shop/.

Our shop also carries select preservation and restoration titles by other authors. Save on cost and shipping with our multi-book combo packs!

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