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What is Parquet Flooring?

Posted: 01 JUL 2002

 

Parquetry is a process that involves is a specific type of flooring, called

parquet flooring

. Parquetry is the creation of wood mosaics commonly used in hardwood flooring. Once used exclusively in the royal houses and high class estates of French nobility, this ornamental flooring has become a hardwood floor standard in many homes today.



Parquet floors

are similar or contrasting woods, such as oak, walnut, and cherry, and are placed in angular, geometric formations to create the floor. The more expensive parquet floors use richly colored tropical hardwoods. Curved and irregular forms are available, but are usually avoided because it is difficult and expensive to fit them together.

 

There are a wide variety of patterns including rhombuses, triangles, Monticello, and Monaco (Baroque-style patterns). Parquet flooring is especially beautiful when the patterns are enhanced by stains and smooth finishes that bring out the lustrous three- dimensional effect.



Parquet Laminates, Veneers, and Solids

Parquet laminates are the most inexpensive form of parquet flooring. Parquet laminates are faux-wood pieces attached to a base such as particle board. A clear, protective coating of plastic is applied to both sides. The floor is then sealed with heat and/or pressure, which completes the process of lamination.

 

Veneer parquet is a layer of solid wood between three and five millimeters thick. This veneer layer is glued and pressed onto a core panel of a different material, like plywood, and attached to the materials base. Veneer parquet floors can be finished and sanded with the usual techniques. They are easily repaired by light re-sanding.

 

Solid parquet is composed of completely solid wood, and is more expensive than parquet laminates or veneer parquet. The standard thickness of a solid parquet board is usually 1.5 cm or more. This thickness ensures that your solid parquet-based hardwood floor can be sanded repeatedly throughout its lifetime. The most common type of solid wood parquet is 5/16" thick in sheets 2' by 2' containing a repeating pattern. It's held together with a linen mesh backing or a removable paper facing.



Baroque Patterns

There is a wide variety of patterns including rhombs, Monaco, and Monticello all imitating some of early Baroque floors. The patterns look particularly stunning when stained a dark walnut color and a silky smooth finish is applied to bring out the 3D effect of these floors. Solid wood parquet lends it self well to a do-it-yourself operation, at least for the installation. It's similar to laying tile, but the sheets are 2' by 2' and leaving little gaps is quite acceptable.



Block Patterns

Block flooring is really the pre-runner of modern parquet. The most basic pattern is made from 2 1/4 " by 3/4" strips, 9" long, and four strips being held with a metal band on the underside. This makes a neat 9" square tile with an interlocking tongue and groove on all sides. Even when the adhesive fails, gravity will keep this floor in place until someone comes along and removes it, cleans it up and re-installs it. Block flooring wears as well as strip flooring.



Herringbone Patterns

Herringbone in the traditional 2" by 9" by 3/4" or larger patterns are the most elegant of all the glue down hardwood floors. Reasonably priced material, it is very labor intensive to install. When this floor is sanded and stained it produces a stunning light-dark effect as you site down the rows. A miniature version of this is the square edged parquet using 1" by 4" by 5/16" slats to make the herringbone pattern. It comes with a mesh backed and is simple to install. Avoid the larger 3/8" by 9" square edged material; it is prone to warping and twisting in place. I've also yet to see an acceptable pre-finished parquet except beveled edged versions of the block floor.



What to Avoid

Avoid perforated paper backing. Only half the wood will contact the glue. Avoid the 5/16" tongue and groove parquet, even though it comes pre-finished. When that finish wears out you only have 1 or 2 sanding cycles at best. Avoid the 6" by 6" squares because they do not contact the sub-floor as well as the smaller 4" by 4" square edged material.



Longevity

Parquet flooring longevity depends on a good adhesive. PVA flooring adhesives (similar to the white carpenter's glue) will start to fail 15-25 years or sooner depending on the indoor humidity swings. A rubber based mastic like Dri-Tac® has the ability to stretch along with seasonal movement of wood and stays tacky throughout the life of the floor. I've used it for about 3000 square feet of new floor in the past 4 years and not one piece has come loose.

 

Parquet flooring, no matter what type, is a lovely choice for your hardwood floor. There are many enhancements, like finishing and staining, which can make it stand out in a house or apartment. It’s simple, beautiful patterns, ease of installation, and excellent pricing make parquet flooring a popular choice for many hardwood floor owners.