4.11 FLOOR SYSTEMS. Avoid installing manmade sheet flooring over
historic floors. The mastic damages the wood surface, and
removing it removes part of the wood beneath it. Wall-to-wall
carpet should not be used over fine hardwood or marble. Area
rugs are a better way to handle the design finish or sound
control. Baseboards are part of the historic floor system. They
should be preserved and repaired as necessary. Do not cut into
them to install electrical boxes and outlets, heating or air
conditioning vents, or telephone wires unless there is no
4.11.1 Wood Floors. Fine pine and hardwood floors may be
found in buildings dating from the 18th to the 20th century.
Floorboards range in width from more than 12" in the 18th century
down to narrow oak or maple strips in the 20th century. The
patina, or aged surface of the wood, is an important part of the
floor. Strip, sand, and refinish only if necessary. Do not
refinish with polyurethane. Remove any damaged sections and,
whenever possible, reuse the original boards. Supplement old
boards with infill boards available from lumber specialists.
(See Figure 4-22.) Be especially careful with decorative parquet
floors as the wood inlay is often loose. Reglue carefully with a
reversible wood glue. Restoring missing or damaged parquet may
require a specialist. Soft wood flooring is often found in 19th
century buildings. It is easily gouged and scratched and may
need protection in high traffic areas.
4.11.2 Masonry Flooring. Marble, stone, terrazzo, and
ceramic tile floors are usually very important design elements.
They should be carefully maintained and repaired. Marble and
other stone floors should be repaired or replaced piece by piece.
Do not use abrasive or caustic cleaning methods for stone floors.
Terrazzo and ceramic tile floors are often overlooked as part of
the historic building design. They should not be covered or
replaced with manmade flooring. Historically, concrete floors
were often intended to have a polished finish. However, many
rough cement or concrete floors were covered with linoleum. Some
linoleum in historic patterns is still available, but modern
vinyl flooring is almost always a better choice for all but
historic-house museum use.
4.12 DOORS. Like windows, doors are vital character-defining
design elements in a historic building. Whenever possible,
original exterior or interior doors should be kept and repaired
and/or refined as needed. If they are too badly damaged to keep,
they should be replaced with exact replicas. If old or original
doors must be removed, save them to be reused at a later time or
another place in the building, or to replace identical missing
historic doors in another building. Unused sliding pocket doors
are sometimes found between parlors and other rooms in Victorian
houses. They should be returned to use if possible, or left
unused in their pockets. Other historic doors that are not
currently in use should not be removed; lock them in place and
treat them as solid wall surfaces if necessary. New doors and