Parquet Flooring – The Definitive Guide

Here at Home Flooring Pros we’re big fans of parquet flooring, especially a modern herringbone pattern. And you might think, from looking at all the parquet floors that pop up in designer magazine or interior decor websites, that finding and installing a parquet floor would be relatively simple. However when you search for parquet flooring online it becomes apparent pretty quickly that your options, certainly in the US, are actually quite limited.

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So if you do have your heart set on a parquet floor we’ve put together this definitive guide to parquet flooring where you can learn what exactly it is, the different kinds of traditional and contemporary parquet patterns available, DIY installation tips, materials and options available, both from custom retailers and commercial outlets, and tips for cleaning and repairing your parquet flooring once installed. If after all this you still want more we have an article dedicated to modern trends in parquet flooring.

What is Parquet Flooring: Its Origins

Also known as parquetry, this flooring type dates to France in the late 1600’s. The word means “small enclosed spaces,” referring to the regular geometric patterns of inlaid wood that make up parquet flooring. Its popularity spread quickly, and wood parquet floors became the choice for many of Europe’s finest homes.

Thomas Jefferson visited France in 1760 and the popularized parquet in the United States. He chose a parquet flooring pattern known as Monticello (“little mountain”) for his mansion in Virginia and was so enthusiastic about the flooring, he named his home after it.

When shopping for parquet wood floors, you’ll find two types:

  • Solid parquet features solid wood from top to bottom. It is the equivalent of solid hardwood flooring.
  • Parquet veneer flooring is made with a layer of parquet over an attached subflooring. It is the equivalent of engineered hardwood flooring.

Parquet Flooring & Styles it Complements

Historically, parquet has been a traditional style of flooring. Parquet flooring featuring large squares and right angles is used when homeowners desire a traditional look.

Flooring with smaller squares or rectangles and non-right angles fits beautifully into contemporary designs, even if the style, such as Herringbone, is hundreds of years old.

Popular Parquet Patterns

While you’re the final judge of what style will look best in your home, here is how the most popular patterns are usually divided:

Traditional parquet flooring: D’Aremberg, Monticello, Chantilly, Chantreuse, Soubise, Fountainbleu and Gaujacq

Contemporary parquet flooring: Herringbone (with single, double and diagonal variations), Chevron and Hexagon

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Unfortunately, there are very few parquet floor styles mass produced in the United States, so your options are quite limited when shopping at large home improvement stores. You’ll typically find one or two patterns in a handful of finishes ranging from light to dark.

Your best sources for a wider range of parquet are specialty flooring stores in the US and Europe, and this means that prices for parquet flooring are higher than for most types of hardwood flooring. Parquet specialists like www.woodflooringusa.com are few and far between but they can be found.

Parquet Flooring Materials and Options

When working with a custom flooring retailer, you’ll have these options to select from in order to get the exact look you desire for your home.

  • A wider range of styles including those listed above and many more, some unique to the floor manufacturer/retailer
  • Tile/module size: 12”x 12” up to about 36”x36” (most parquet flooring tiles are available in just one or two sizes)
  • Thickness from about 5/16” to 1/2″
  • Wood: Red or white oak, hickory, poplar, ash, maple, American cherry, walnut, red birch, mahogany and several exotic wood species. Oak parquet flooring is far and away the most common option available.
  • Solid hardwood parquet (more expensive) and parquet veneer over engineered wood (more affordable)
  • Finish: Unfinished or prefinished in one of many choices, weathered, scraped and textured wood
  • Leather inlay on some styles

When buying mass-production parquet flooring, here is a sampling of who sells it and what is offered:

Home Depot: A small selection of flooring from Armstrong, Bruce and other producers – most must be ordered

Lowes: Similar selection as Home Depot, and most must be ordered

Build Direct: Armstrong parquet plus, a few unfinished parquet flooring products

Armstrong: 5-7 basic styles, all oak and quite similar, with each offered in 2-4 finishes

Vinyl Parquet Flooring

Armstrong, Karndean and Nexxus are among the leading producers of vinyl parquet floor tile that mimics the look of real wood parquet. Most products are peel-and-stick flooring.

Max Tile makes interlocking vinyl tiles in parquet styles. They are thicker and more durable than standard vinyl tiles, and they create a floating floor that is quite easy to take apart and move.

Parquet Flooring Installation

This isn’t a step by step parquet flooring installation guide, but it serves to give you an overview of the process to help you decide if doing it yourself is an option. It is considered a moderate DIY project suitable for those with some experience with similar projects. For more on hardwood floor installation click here.

Subfloor preparation: Getting the subfloor right is essential to flooring that looks and performs as it should. Pay careful attention to these requirements, and you’ll succeed:

  • Suitable: If the subfloor is not in good condition, replace pieces that are visibly warped or rotted. Cover it with plywood underlayment screwed to the subfloor leaving small expansion gaps. Walk the floor to find loose or squeaky spots, and screw them down tight.
  • Clean: Remove nails, wax, debris, oil and adhesives.
  • Level: The floor must be within ¼” of perfect per 12 feet. Sand high spots, and fill low spots with leveling compound or latex patch.
  • Dry: Use a reliable moisture meter to make sure the subfloor meets the flooring’s requirements for acceptable moisture.
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Flooring over concrete subfloor: Most parquet tiles can be glued to concrete – check the manufacturer’s specifications to be sure. Seal the concrete with a product that can be used in conjunction with the adhesive you’re going to use.

Flooring over wood subfloor: As noted, make sure the subfloor is tight. Remove any existing wood flooring product that has been glued down, sand off the adhesive and install new parquet directly to the subfloor. Existing hardwood floors with planks wider than 4” should be covered with plywood underlayment.

Flooring with radiant heating: The heating system should be operational for several days prior to installing the floor, and it should be turned off a few hours before installation. Make sure the system is designed and set for use beneath wood flooring or damage from overheating the wood is likely to occur.

Installing the parquet floor: These steps will ensure a job you’re proud to call your own:

  • Use a chalk line to divide the main portion of the room into four quadrants
  • Work in one quadrant at a time
  • Dry lay the parquet tile flooring to make sure the tiles at the edge of the room will be cut to the same width on all sides of the room
  • Use a notched trowel to apply the adhesive, and only cover an area you can apply flooring to in 60 minutes
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully during each step of installation
  • As you place each tile (also called a module), move it back and forth slightly to ensure good adhesion before aligning it permanently
  • The first row of tiles can be held in place temporarily with finishing nails at the edges
  • Work from the subfloor rather than from on top of tiles you’ve already set in place
  • Leave a ½” gap at the walls for expansion – the gap will be covered by trim
  • If the parquet is not finished, give the adhesive 36 hours before staining or sealing

How to Clean Parquet Floors

A vacuum cleaner is the best tool for cleaning parquet flooring because dust and dirt settle into the many crevices in parquet. A vacuum lifts it up and out. Keep these parquet floor cleaning tips in mind:

  1. Always turn off the rotating brush to avoid damage to the floor
  2. When possible, choose a lightweight machine designed for use on hardwood
  3. Avoid pulling the vacuum sideways, causing its wheels to skid across the floor and potentially scratch/mar it

A few of the top hardwood flooring vacuums are made by Dyson, Bissell, Prolux and Black & Decker. Click here to see our top rated Dyson vacuum for hardwood floors.

Spot clean the floor with a soft cloth only very slightly dampened with warm water, and dry the area after cleaning

If you choose a cleaner, select one that is designed for use on hardwood. Armstrong and Bruce are among the hardwood flooring manufacturers that make cleaner for this purpose. Most of these cleaners are not designed for use on waxed parquet flooring.

If your parquet has a wax finish on it, periodic buffing with a wax paste recommended by the flooring’s manufacturer will keep it bright. Use a slightly damp cloth for spot cleaning. You can find more solid hardwood cleaning tips here.

How to Repair and Refinish Parquet Floors

When you need parquet flooring maintenance, these tips will help.

  1. Entirely remove damaged parquet flooring tiles and the adhesive from the subfloor. Apply new adhesive, and carefully set the new parquet tile or module. Immediately wipe away any excess adhesive. Hopefully, you’ve got extra tiles left over from the job. If not, contact your retailer about getting more.

If the flooring is in the form of blocks, remove the damaged block and take it to a flooring store to locate the best match for both the wood block and the finish. Sand the new block, if necessary to make it smooth, and dry-place it into the gap. If it is the same height as the surrounding flooring, then stain it before installation. Wait 24 hours before installing the new block as suggested above for replacing tile.

If the new block sticks up above the surrounding flooring, the best option is to install the block and then use a belt sander to sand it down to match the height of the surrounding blocks. If the process removes the finish of those surrounding wood pieces, you’ll need to apply stain to refinish them as well.

  1. Solid parquet flooring – flooring in which the parquet is not simply a veneer – can be refinished. Gentle sanding using a belt sander is the preferred method.

As mentioned above, finding parquet flooring resources in the US takes a bit of detective work. Here are a few websites you mind find helpful/inspiring.

www.czarfloors.com – Designer and producer of hardwood custom flooring including parquet

www.gaetanoinc.com – Custom hardwood flooring company based in California

www.rare-earth-hardwoods.com – Supplier of domestic and imported hardwoods including wood inlays.

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