Why Choose Parquet Flooring and How to Install it:

A parquet floor literally means a patterned floor. Parquet flooring is a mosaic of wood used to decorate a room, commonly using geometric designs. There are two types of parquet floors: there is solid parquet and parquet panels. Solid parquet is made up of wood blocks that are glued down in geometric patters like the herringbone pattern one of my personal favorites. In contrast, parquet panels are veneers of hardwood (similar to prefinished flooring), glued in geometric patterns to a base of cheaper wood or plywood. Parquet panels typically lock together using tongue and groove joints.

Parquet is also available in the engineered flooring variety. An engineered parquet floor simulates a solid wood parquet floor. This type of flooring uses face veneers made from various different species of wood. These face veneers are laminated to supporting plies.

There are numerous ways that you can install a parquet floor. Parquet flooring can be laid to suit a particular lifestyle or surroundings. With numerous styles and materials, if you decide to go with a parquet floor, there is a lot to choose from. One of the key benefits to parquet flooring is that it is easy to maintain.

If maintained properly, it is a very durable, long-lasting floor. This is why parquet is a very common choice in apartment buildings and in ballrooms, not because it is cheap per square foot. I’ve installed lots of these floors in co-ops across Toronto over the past 30 years and I’m sure if you could see these floors today you’d be surprised at their longevity. But it is this connection that makes people think these floors are low quality, most people’s first apartments had parquet floor when they were a student or just moving out of their parents’ houses. If you are considering a hardwood floor, I think you should really think about parquet. Besides, it is arguably a more attractive floor style.

All parquet flooring, just like all wood flooring, is influenced by the atmospheric climate that it is placed in. It is subject to change if the level of humidity fluctuates. This will cause slight signs of movement in the parquet flooring. This process is known as the “movement of the wood”. Noticeable swelling and shrinking of the parquet flooring will occur if there is a humidity of more than 65% in the summer and below 40% in the winter.

Parquet Styles

The most common parquet flooring is the style that is laid like wooden tiles in a geometrically uniform way. This is referred to as “block parquet”. Block parquet is a set of uniform blocks of wood that are laid on the floor butt-joint. The thickness of these blocks usually ranges between 15 to 22 millimeters.

Multilayer parquet is a much older technology than the block technique. Intricate combinations of narrow wood strips would be placed in the form of ornaments. These wood strips were usually cut in wood underlayment. Today, they are glued. Two or three layers of wood are laid so that the grain of one layer is directed along the length of the second layer. This solution is much more stable when the humidity fluctuates.

Face wood layer is another kind of parquet made from prime wood. The planks are relatively thin, typically between 3-5 millimeters for their thickness and between 150 -200 millimeters in length. The lower layer is comprised of thick blocks that can sometimes be made from wood waste as long as it is all comprised of the same wood species. These floorboards require a strong varnish. Ideally, you want to have five coats of varnish because the face layer is fairly thin.

Panel parquet uses a very similar technology to the parquet board but it characteristically has a square shape. The most common dimensions of panel parquet are 400×400, 480×480, 520×520, 600×600, 650×650 millimeters, but there can also be other sizes. Panel parquet is significantly cheaper than block parquet.

Glued-laminated parquet is a multilayered style. The upper layer is glued down to the multilayer underlayment. This is done on site when the floor is being laid. There are no joints between the large wood panels. This is the most inexpensive variety of parquet.

Artistic parquet is usually the same as the glued-laminated variety. However, artistic parquet is sometimes made using parquet panel technology. This type of parquet typically has a complicated shape to it. Artistic parquet is comprised of various wood species that have different colors. There are numerous ways to lay artistic parquet. The floorboards can even be positioned to create a picture.

Installing Parquet Flooring

There are many different things you need to know before you decide to install a parquet floor. Please read what I am about to say carefully. It will ensure that you do your floors properly in a way that you will be happy with the results. The climatic conditions and the relative air humidity need serious consideration. When installing parquet flooring, the temperature of the room should range between 18C/64F and 22C/72F. The relative air humidity should range between 45% and 60%. The relative humidity of the subfloor cannot exceed more than 12%. A very common mistake with parquet is choosing a subfloor that is thinner than the parquet itself. The subfloor should always be as thick or thicker than the parquet. I like to use 3/4 inch plywood, this thickness will ensure a solid floor. Do not use chip board or particle board or OSB, yes it’s cheaper, but you get what you pay for.

If you are installing parquet flooring directly onto concrete slab, the concrete foundation needs to have a relative humidity of no more than 3%. If you are doing this, make sure that the concrete is solid and perfectly flat. There are glues available that contain very little water that are designed for parquet floors on concrete slab. To ensure that your concrete is dry, clean the concrete thoroughly and cover it with polythene. Leave it for one or two days. If when you uncover it, the concrete does not look darker, then it is dry.

When you lay your parquet floor, it is important to leave a gap of between 15 to 18 millimeters in width along the entire perimeter of the walls and around any pillars in the room. This gap will compensate for any expansion of floorboards. The small gap should be covered with baseboards. If you don’t leave a gap, you will be very sorry in the future! I highly recommend not skipping this step! I get all kinds of questions from homeowners that have floors that are buckling. Many floor contractors want to get the job done quickly and may forget important steps like this one!

Like all hardwood floors, parquet needs to acclimatize before it is installed. It should sit in its packaging for 2-3 days. This will allow the floorboards to reach the temperature in the room. When the parquet is unpacked, it should be done in the order that it will be laid. Within a 24 to 72 hour period, the parquet will be affixed and will resist tensions and strain. The polishing and varnishing stage of the parquet floor should be done after 4 to 10 days. This timeframe obviously depends on the parquet type and the environmental conditions of the room.

When it comes to parquet, you want the floor to look as even as possible. That said laying parquet flooring so that you get a perfect surface is basically impossible. It requires complicated work. However, the key to a beautiful parquet floor is a perfectly prepared foundation.

A long time ago, people would do what is known as “parquet scraping”. This is actually an obsolete method of evening the surface of your floor using a cutting tool. These cutting tools included a hand scraper or a grinding machine with knife drums. Today, the most superior technique of evening your floor’s surface is by polishing your parquet with abrasives. Often, belt sanders and flat polishers are used to polish parquet.

Sometimes, technological operations can be performed. For example, you can remove old lacquer and minor scratches using a belt sander to do the preparatory polishing or scraping.

Polishing a parquet floor requires several steps where you use grinding equipment with dust collectors. Typically, after you have scraped your parquet floor, spackling or filling cracks between parquet blocks is done with special pastes. Prime coating is the stage where you are preparing the parquet surface for the lacquering stage. Lacquering follows and its purpose is for the surface of the floor to get certain esthetic qualities and also to add to the wear-resisting properties of the parquet floor.

Polishing the floor should occur in three stages: the first stage is referred to as “rough” polishing. The rough polishing is done with a belt sander and abrasive sandpaper. This rough grinding will even out the floor. The second sanding stage is the transitional polishing stage. The final sanding stage is the clean polishing stage. When you perform the last polishing stage, you are doing the final evening ad smoothing of the floor surface. Please read our article called “HOW TO SAND WOOD FLOORS WITHOUT LEAVING MACHINE MARKS ” to get the full scoop on sanding. All the information in this article applies to parquet floor as well as strip floor.

Finishing Parquet Flooring

Next is the varnishing stage. To get the full scoop on finishing a floor, please read our article, “CUSTOM STAINING WOOD FLOORS WITHOUT THE BLOTCHY EFFECT “. Any dust that remains from the sanding must be vacuumed up perfectly. Then it must be covered with an undercoating. When you prime coat or apply an undercoating to the polished parquet, the undercoating is getting deeply soaked into the wood. This means that you are reducing the amount of varnish that will get absorbed. Make sure that the undercoating and the varnish work together with regard to their chemical composition. It will also preserve the natural wood color as much as possible. Usually just one coat is enough of the prime coating. Typically, one liter will do an area of 8 to 10 square meters.

When the undercoating has dried – about 10-12 hours after, the floor must be polished again because the surface will be rough. Again, you will need to do a very thorough vacuuming. It is recommended to do a smooth polishing yet again after you have applied your undercoating and finished the second polishing. This can only be done when the floor has completely dried out. This will ensure that you attain a very high quality looking surface. You want your varnish to look as good as possible. You need to clean again and do a second coating of varnish.

If you are going to spend the money and time on a beautiful parquet floor, I think it is imperative that you go with a high quality varnish. The varnish will highlight everything in the wood – the beauty as well as the flaws and imperfections. If you go with a low quality varnish, no matter how nice your parquet floor is, it is almost guaranteed that you will be disappointed with the final results! I always recommend polyurethane.

If you decide to go with a tinted varnish, you can also get the same results. It is necessary to do multiple varnish coatings in order to protect the surface of the floor from moisture. Typically, three coats will give you a good finish. Some manufacture recommend up to seven coats of varnish are applied with intermediate interlayer polishing. All manufacturers are different when it comes to the drying time in between coats. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for best results. You need a dust-free room or else the quality of the varnish application will be compromised. It is best to frequently vacuum. At some job sites, it is best to separate the surface of walls and ceiling with polyethylene film. Any airflow or draughts can also cause problems when you are varnishing.

The three types of varnishes available are gloss, semimatt and matt. Varnishes can be either clear or tinted. For parquet flooring, varnishes can be comprised of polyurethane, acrylic and water-based.

It is important to mention that not all parquet types are suitable for a hydronic heating system. If you want to have a hydronic heating system, the wood species that are not recommended for parquet flooring are beech, mountain maple and Canadian maple. It is much better to use a wood species that performs well with swelling and shrinking like oak. The ideal temperature in the room for your parquet floor is approximately 20C/69F.

Herringbone Floors

Now that we have looked at the techniques for installing parquet, lets look at herringbone floors. Herringbone is a classic European parquet style that is now considered to be a very contemporary and elegant look. The herringbone pattern is named after the herring fish. This fish is known for being quite densely bony. This is my favorite style of parquet by far. It is intricate and beautiful.

These floors will often have a boarder. Typically, a herringbone floor is a solid, unfinished floor. It is comprised of right angels and it can look like a woven basket. A herringbone floor is made from very short rows of slanted parallel slats of wood. The rows are oriented in opposition to each other. This causes the slanted lines to form a dense pattern of chevrons. Each slant meets up at the end with a slant positioned in the opposite direction.

Herringbone patterned floors may be finished with two alternating stains to make the lines stand out or it may be left simple. Sometimes, you will see a prefinished herringbone floor. In this case, the stain of the wood is a factory finish and the homeowner will not be able to alter it.

Herringbone floors are generally glued to a wood or concrete subfloor. Considering the length of time they require to be installed, herringbone floors typically take between three and four times longer than your standard 2 1/4″ strip floors. The reason why these floors take so long to lay is because they require the installer to insure proper and constant alignment at all times.

Another style of herringbone floor is typically done with smaller designs and patterns with narrower finger jointing. This is paper faced or cotton-mesh backing herringbone patterns. This type of floor comes in sheets or blocks. These are factory assembled and they are adhered to a paper facing or cotton mesh-backing. Paper faced herringbone blocks can be glued directly to subfloors. These are unfinished blocks of wood. These blocks are not necessarily square or rectangular. This flooring will get sanded and finished on site after the adhesive cures.

Laying a herringbone is quite tricky, especially if the room is not perfectly perpendicular. The smallest mistake will be rather glaring because of the way the pattern lines up.

In the end, like all hardwood floors, parquet floors should be vacuumed regularly to remove dirt. If you are going to use area rugs, it is good to rotate them every so often so that the color stays even. Otherwise over time, the parquet floor outside the carpet will fade and you’ll have carpet marks forever! It is important to use felt protectors under legs of tables and chairs so that you don’t have to worry about scratching your surfaces. If you aren’t sure what to go with, be it a strip floor or a parquet floor, the parquet is known for its durability and beauty. Not enough homeowners consider parquet. It is really worth considering parquet!

As a side note, there are multiple ways to spell ‘parquet flooring’. You may use or see parquet flooring, parquet flooring, parqet flooring, parkett flooring, parket flooring, parque flooring and parqu flooring. This article will only use the most common spelling: ‘parquet flooring’.