Repairing Parquet Block Floor


We have moved into a 1930’s property and have discovered that the lounge and dining room floors have what appear to be original solid oak herringbone style block floors. Some of the outer edge blocks by the skirting boards are loose and some are uneven in the middle of the floor. I would like to restain the wood a darker shade. I would appreciate your guidance on the following:

What is the best method of removing the top surface, if sanding, what about the different directions of the grain?

What is the best material to use to stain?

What materials should I apply as a finishing coat (I have two young children!) and how best to apply it/achieve the best results.

What should I use to re-lay the loose blocks – pitch or Nonail?

I would very much appreciate any help you could give

Many thanks



Dear Paul

These days we repair any parquet block floor with a modern roofing cement. The reason being that you can never really remove all the old tar (originally applied hot) from either the wood or the subfloor, so this black roofing cement will dry in all conditions. We have a product called Wet Patch (meant for applying to wet leaky roof) here in Canada, and I’m sure you can find something similar over in the UK. Let this stuff set up for 7 days before you start sanding the floor.

If you find that you can clean the wood and subfloor perfectly, use a rubber based adhesive, that has flex to it when it is dry. A normal PVA adhesive won’t work.

As for the stain, I always use a furniture quality fast dry pigmented wiping stain (a local Toronto company), followed by 3 coats of Oil Modified Polyurethane. A good wood floor mechanic will know what I mean.

Now let’s get to the sanding. How can I talk you out of doing this rather tricky job, on this very elaborate wood yourself. I cannot by email easily give you a sanding lesson, and if you intend to rent a floor machine you won’t get much of a chance to practice except on your own floor. It is very difficult to sand a herringbone floor and not leave long sanding in the floor, when the stain is applied. And even most pros cannot do a decent job of it, unless they have years of experience.

So my best advice is to hire a seasoned pro to do the sanding stained and finishing. You should be able to find someone who is willing to do this highly skilled job, with little or no deposit. I take no deposits for floor sanding, it just depends on the honesty of my customers and my good work.

There may be an alternative to sanding if the floor is not in bad shape, and that is chemical stripping, as described in my article. This IS something you should do yourself. And by the way, just in case the finish is worth saving, read the second half of my cleaning article, which you can find by searching at the top of the web page in the search box.

But if you really insist on doing the whole sanding and finishing job yourself, I will have to write a long dissertation on the matter. I just completed a stain job on a plank floor and have some pictures, and we do have an article on the OMP.