oilcloth, originally, cloth treated with oil or other substances so as to be waterproof and used for fishermen's and sailors' wear, for coach robes and covers, and later as a floor covering, called floorcloth. Subsequently it was made of heavy canvas, jute, or burlap, sized with glue, and coated with a thick oil paint, several coats being used and successively rubbed down with pumice stone. It was machine printed, dried in a drying room, varnished, and rolled. Linoleum and various kinds of vinyl products have superseded oilcloth as a floor covering. A variety of oilcloth fabrics is now produced for wall, table, and shelf coverings, for raincoats, and for many small wares.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.