Floors are made to be walked upon and are subject to hard usage. They should, therefore, be durable. Floors cannot be easily changed; therefore they should be permanent in material and finish. Since they contribute to the color scheme of the room, they should be finished accordingly. Floors continuous in color as far as the eye can see have a unifying effect. Wood is the material most used for floors. Wood that is hard, of inconspicuous grain, and responsive to color treatment should be chosen. Well selected oak is probably the best. Maple and birch are very durable, but light in color; hard pine is also possible and relatively inexpensive. The matter of color and finish can be regulated to some extent to suit the character of wood selected and the color scheme of the room.
Hardwood floors should in general be finished like hardwood trim, except that caution should be observed in attempting dark stains, because all floors through usage tend to wear back to the natural color of the wood. Since all wood floors tend to darken in time, the rather light appearance of a new floor should be endured with patience. If after a period of time the tone of the floor still appears too light, it is easier to darken it slightly than to remove a dark mussy stain. Furthermore, rugs can always be relied on to remedy the color effect of the bare floor.
Softwood floors of pine, such as are often found in old houses, can be finished by filling the spaces between the boards with either a standard or home-made crack-filler and then applying two or more coats of good hard paint, such as the ordinary deck paint. Some housekeepers have had success with a crack-filler made of flour paste into which a pulp of damp newspaper is beaten. Under all conditions, however, a painted floor is a compromise and will require frequent renewals.
It is more difficult to regulate the color of wood floors than that of ceiling or side wall, because while it is desirable to relate the color of the floor to the side wall, there is a distinct limit to the range of color in wood floors. Floors are often too light in value, but for practical reasons this cannot always be avoided. Whatever has to be accepted in the color of the floor, however, may fortunately be corrected by a good choice of rugs.