A floorcloth, or floor-cloth, is a cloth, normally of flannel, used for cleaning floors. The term was previously used also for materials used in place of carpeting or to protect expensive carpets, such as oilcloth, Kamptulicon, linoleum or other materials. This use is considered somewhat antiquated today, though do-it-yourself decorators still use floorcloths as a customizable alternative to rugs. Some artists have elected to use floorcloths as a medium of expression. Most modern floorcloths are made of heavy, unstretched canvas with two or more coats of gesso. They are then painted and varnished to make them waterproof.
Area canvas rugs, today known as floorcloth, had their start in 18th century England. Initially used by the wealthy, the designs and patterns mimicked parquet flooring, tile and marble. As these useful furnishings found their way into middle-class homes, the variety of patterns grew. When American colonists became independent from England, they also began to create their own floorcloths. Eventually the development of linoleum eliminated the interest in these rugs. However, in the past few decades, the desire to decorate homes in a more personal way has stimulated their popularity. Unique designs are made in a variety of styles and colors, using many techniques. This gives today's floorcloths the ability to be created for any style interior.
- Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). 1911. .