End grain blocks are a much undervalued flooring which seems to
have inexplicably fallen out of fashion and favour. They have been
used for many centuries in a wide variety of situations.
Cobble blocks as large as 9" x 6" x 6" were widely used by the Victorians
as a substitute for granite cobbles. You will find end grain blocks
at railway station entrances and in the carriage porticos of grand
houses like Waddesdon Manor. In these situations they were employed
because the horses' hooves, shod with iron, and the wheels of the
carts and carriages, rimmed in steel, made a lot of noise over stone
cobbles. This noise is amplified and reverberated by the cavernous
railway halls and the only slightly less cavernous hallways of grand
houses. End grain blocks muffled these noises.
In heavy engineering factories end grain blocks are similarly used
for their sound reduction qualities, but also, just as importantly,
to provide a soft landing for valuable heavy castings which must not
be cracked or chipped by bumping against a hard floor. Such blows
are absorbed by the end grain block. Most indentation damage recovers
when the block is wetted. Severe damage is simply repaired by replacement
of the blocks with little or no down time - as there would be whilst
waiting for concrete to dry.
In commercial areas, end grain block provides a quiet, highly durable
and visually attractive hardwood flooring.
To the right is a photograph of a Mesquite end grain block
floor in a commercial setting. Click on it to see a larger version.
Another end grain block flooring in a commercial setting.
This engineering factory is floored out entirely with bitumen impregnated
softwood end grain blocks.