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Guide to Parquet Flooring

This type of flooring first showed up in the Baroque Period (1625-1714) in France's most Royal of homes and palaces. This is where they first experimented with the most intricate of patterns and 3D effects. These days parquet flooring is found in the most humble of apartments, as the basic mosaic pattern is quite affordable to the rest of us plebeins.

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. Avoid perforated paper backing as only half the wood will contact the glue. Avoid also the 5/16" tongue and groove parquet, even though it comes prefinished. When that finish wears out you only have 1 or 2 sanding cycles at best, and the 6" by 6" squares don't contact the subfloor as well as the smaller 4" by 4" square edged material.

There is a wide variety of patterns including rhombs, monaco, monticello all imitating some of those early Baroque floors. These look particulary stunning when stained a dark walnut color and a silky smooth finish is appied 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. But it depends on a good adhesive for it's longevity. PVA flooring adhesives (similar to the white carpenter's glue) will start to fail 15-25 years or sooner depending on the indoor humitity swings. A rubber based mastic like Dri-Tac ® has the ability to stretch along with seasonal movement of wood and stays tacky throught 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.

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 , 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 puppy in place until someone comes along and removes it, cleans it up and re-installs it. It wears as well as strip floor and I have yet to see one toasted yet.

Herringbone in the traditional 2" by 9" by 3/4" or larger patterns is the most elegant of all the glue down hardwood floors. Reasonably priced material, it is very labour 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 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 prefinished parquet except beveled edged versions of the block floor.