Parquet flooring is among the most distinctive types of wood floor due to how it is created. Instead of being installed in planks, small slats of wood with the end-grain facing up are arranged into tiles of various sizes, for example 600mm by 120mm. The thickness of the tiles ranges from 15mm to 21mm.
The Production of Parquet Flooring Tiles
The wood pieces are arranged into distinct patterns, often repeating, but sometimes linking with adjoining tiles to form a larger pattern. Wood pieces are bonded to a substrate for easier installation. Thin plastic or metal frames may be used to hold the shape of the arranged wood pieces. The manufacturing of this flooring type is known as parquetry.
In some tiles, more than one wood type or colour is used, and this provides an attractive contrast within each tile. Oak is the most common wood species used in parquetry because it is the most affordable. Walnut is also popular; more exotic wood species are used, but the cost of the flooring is significantly higher.
It should be noted that parquet flooring can also be created by nailing or gluing individual pieces of wood directly to the subfloor to create the patterns. However, this is a time-intensive process that dramatically raises the cost of installation compared with installing pre-manufactured tiles.
Note on shopping for parquetry flooring: There are dozens of parquet patterns and pattern names, and two distinct patterns are often given the same name by different manufacturers and retailers. To know that you are getting exactly what you want, it is essential to see any flooring before you purchase it.
Unfinished vs. Finished Parquet
You’ve got two options when buying parquet flooring—unfinished and finished, also called pre-finished. There are pros and cons of each.
Unfinished parquet flooring: The advantage of installing unfinished flooring is that you can select the exact color of stain, type of sealer and additional finishing treatments that will give you the custom look you desire. Beware, however, that unfinished flooring is susceptible to staining and water damage, so finish the flooring immediately after installation.
Finished parquet flooring: The total cost of flooring is reduced when tiles are built in a factory setting and sealed with industrial-grade products with fantastic wear durability, something not always possible at home. Factory finishing also means less work on site without the mess and odour finishing flooring causes. The downside is that pre-finished flooring reduces your options for custom styles and stain colors.
Where to Install Parquet Floors
This flooring can be installed anywhere, but it doesn’t work equally well in all spaces.
Ideal for formal areas: Parquet floors are stunning, a gorgeous complement to the most elegant space in any home, hotel, conference center, event hall or office building. No other flooring combines the natural warmth and beauty of wood with artisanal craftsmanship. It’s uniquely handsome design makes it the perfect choice for entryways, dining rooms, living rooms and open spaces in upscale settings used for formal occasions.
Not suited to small, confined spaces: The artistry of parquetry requires space to be fully appreciated since the whole floor is more spectacular than simply the sum of the individual tiles. In a kitchen, for example, where there is an island, table, chairs and cabinets, the beauty of the design will be lost. In fact, parquet is too busy for confined spaces, creating a feeling of clutter that can be disconcerting while drawing the eye away from tasks at hand.
Parquet Flooring Installation
Parquet tiles are rectangular with straight edges, rather than tongue and groove or other common edge design, and made to butt up to one another in the flooring field. A small expansion area of 4-8mm should be left around the perimeter of the room to be covered by trim. Most parquet flooring is glued to the subfloor, though some thicker tiles are nailed down. If you find that nailing the tiles splits the wood, then installing them with glue will be necessary.
Installation note: Most parquet tile patterns must be installed in a specific direction to complete the larger flooring field pattern. Paying attention to installation direction will result in a floor that blends harmoniously. One tip followed by DIY installers and professionals is to lay out the flooring tiles to make sure their arrangement is correct before attaching them to the subfloor. This is known as a “dry layout.”
Water and Your Parquet Floor
Water is the enemy of wood flooring, though parquet handles moisture slightly better than wood plank floors. However, it still makes sense not to install parquet in bathrooms, laundry areas, basements and other high-moisture areas where water might cause it to swell, warp, pull apart or develop mould. Any time your parquet gets wet, dry the moisture quickly to prevent problems.
Parquet Floor Refinishing
Parquet can be refinished at least as many times as solid hardwood of the same thickness. Parquet is not produced with a tongue and groove design that limits the number of times hardwood planks can be refinished, so more of the original flooring material can be removed before the flooring is replaced.
Refinishing parquet flooring is more challenging than refinishing wood plank flooring. This is due to the grain end facing up and not being directionally consistent within each tile or the floor as a whole. Using a power sander on the floor might leave an inconsistent finish in which grain scratches appear. You might need to sand these out by hand to create a consistent, smooth surface ready to be sealed.