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From Mud, Mint to Magnetism… Floors Have Come a Long Way in the Past 5,000 Years!

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PHOENIX, AZ. True humans have been sheltering themselves for hundreds of thousands of years, so it is not surprising that their habitations have not only been varied due to climate and vegetation differences, but have also been heavily influenced by cultural and technical advances.

Today, there are still cultures whose living conditions probably have remained largely unchanged for the entire period, with earth still forming floors, and local vegetation the walls and roof, often supplemented with cattle dung to reinforce them as in parts of Africa today.

Major change came when Man first learned to create bricks and cut stone. Five thousand years ago, the Egyptians were making brick and stone floors and we are all familiar with those huge stone structures, pyramids with their intricate passages and chambers. The Egyptians later got into mat and rug weaving from about 4,000 years ago which was likely prevalent throughout the rest of what we now call the Middle East.

Three thousand years ago, the Greeks were decorating their floors with small stones in mosaic patterns and their great rivals the Romans were very ingenious with stonework, creating large under-floor gaps so hot fire smoke could warm the rooms above.

Europe, as the cultures evolved, got into wood flooring and then sail cloth found a popular use covering mud floors, often decorated. Tiles became popular too. Of course, the merchant classes and the gentry were able to afford skilled labor to produce high quality flooring, especially wood, where planks fitted perfectly instead of being just laid down like a rough walkway.

“But, for the vast majority of humans on the planet, even today, flooring remains very basic with vast concrete high rises housing many millions with crude, uncovered concrete that might have some mats or pieces of carpets,” commented Peter Roosen, a veggie-plastic flooring pioneer whose company is Castagra Product, Inc., based in Phoenix.

“For many thousands of years, lives were much shorter than they are today with very high child mortality. Hygiene was always a problem and I am sure they shared their accommodation with more than a few unwanted guests.”

Roosen said there was even evidence of mint being used to combat odors. “For me, mint is for mint sauce on lamb, but the thought of laying down bunches of it on a floor to be walked on and create a vapor of mintiness makes eminent sense. We have mint toothpaste so why not minty floors.”

Where he finds the history of flooring particularly interesting is the early use of natural products such as rubber. It was first used in the 12th and 13th centuries to make tiles, but did not become widespread in use until closer to modern times.

“Then, in the early 1860s an English rubber manufacturer, Frederick Walton, noticed how linseed oil in paint would form a skin on top of the liquid like a primitive plastic. “Of course, plastic did not really exist then except for those who might had the privilege of roast potatoes. Bioplastic acrylamide is produced when starchy foods are cooked for long periods at temperatures above 120C.

“Anyway, this clever fellow Walton mixed linseed with sawdust, resins, pigments and some drying agents to produce what we know today as linoleum or ‘lino’ that today is in millions of kitchens and bathrooms, where it durability and ease of being cleaned, has kept it popular.”
Then, in the 1930s, the first of the vinyl tiles appeared with similar hard-wearing qualities, but many samples also included notorious asbestos.

“Ironically, we seem to have come full circle historically. The rise over the past three decades of concern over Volatile Organic Compound emissions (‘VOCs’) has meant a huge, dynamic shift in the direction of so-called green coatings for floors and building fabric in general,” stated Roosen.

“I invented a zero VOC veggie-plastic material some 25 years ago. Initially it was used in flexible architectural mouldings, but it went on to be used as a major protective coating for tank bottoms in the fracking industry, and coating water and wastewater facilities, food facilities as well as innumerable floors and roofs in commercial, residential and institutional buildings.

“Ecodur, as we call it, is made of castor oil, a renewable resource, and naturally occurring soft rock gypsum. It is not only rated for use in contact with drinking water, it bonds molecularly with natural fibers such as straw and wood those two very early floor coverings. I am hoping one day that it will find a use in less developed countries to make simple homes more robust and accommodating,” envisions Roosen.

“But the here and now has one more exciting development, magnetic flooring. This is a breakthrough area in flooring that is as modern as it gets. I cannot divulge the very precise nature of how we make it all work with various patents and patent applications still in the works, but, needless to say, it does.

“The versatility provided by solid and carpet magnetic floor tiles, is a no brainer for commercial and retail, institutional, industrial and even residential applications where down-time minimisation is an absolute must when it comes to either applying the initial covering or changing out. We see a great future for Ecodur in this particular application,” concluded Roosen.

Castagra Products Inc., has its registered office in Reno, Nevada, USA, and headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona. It has its main toll production facility in Houston in Texas. The company is focussed on providing ultra-protective VOC-free, BPA-free, non-toxic coatings for flooring, roofing, water and waste water industries and oil, gas, frac production water storage tanks and pipes.