Parquet Floors: An Overview and Some Pointers for Installation

Parquet floor

An overview of parquet floors

Parquet is a decorative pattern that consists of flooring arranged in a geometrical pattern such as a triangle or a square. The herringbone pattern is one of the most popular forms of parquet.

The word “parquet” has its origins in French, and the first recorded parquet floor was installed in 17th century France. Parquet floors were subsequently installed in palaces throughout Europe, and they are still known for their ability to bring an old-word, distinguished charm into any space.

Parquet floors were especially popular in American households during the 60’s and 70’s, and they remain a more interesting alternative to strip flooring and ceramic tile.

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The Boston Celtics play on an iconic parquet floor from 1946 to 1995, first at the Boston Arena and later at Boston Garden.

If your clients want parquet installed, don’t fret: it’s really not too different from installing a glue-down strip floor.

How to install parquet floors

Gluing down the parquet tiles is the most crucial part of the installation process. Since the pattern is geometrical, a piece of flooring installed at the wrong angle can throw off the appearance of the whole floor.

You can glue parquet floors down on either a plywood or a concrete subfloor.

The prep process for parquet is just about the same as the prep for strip flooring. Make sure the flooring is properly acclimated and that the moisture content of the wood and subfloor are acceptable for installation.

Measuring the moisture content of a concrete subfloor to prep for installation using a Wagner Rapid RH

You might want to install a vapor-retarding subfloor covering to prevent extra moisture from seeping into the floor, especially if you’re installing over concrete.

If you’re gluing down over a concrete subfloor, be especially diligent about checking the moisture content of the slab. Take multiple readings from different areas of the concrete. If the slab was poured less than six months ago, it is not ready to accept a wood floor.

To make sure the placement of the parquet tiles comes out perfect, you have to square the room before you begin. Snap a chalk line through the center of the room, and snap another at a 90 degree angle to the first line.

When gluing the flooring down, it’s important to work in small sections so the adhesive doesn’t dry before you set the tiles in place. Apply urethane adhesive to the floor using a square notch trowel. Set the tiles into the adhesive and gently lock in the tongue and grooves of the planks.

Gluing down a hardwood floor

Wipe up any excess adhesive as you go along to prevent it from drying on the wood.

As you lay the tiles, avoid kneeling on the parquet to prevent the tiles from shifting. Instead, kneel on the subfloor.

Continue working in small sections until you’re done gluing down the floor, and allow the adhesive to dry before moving on.

How to sand parquet

Sanding a patterned floor like parquet is a bit different from sanding a regular floor, but it’s nothing to lose sleep over.

It’s a good idea — but not necessary — to use an orbital sander like the Clarke OBS-18 or a planetary sander like the Lagler Trio because you’ll be going against the grain of the wood, and these machines will reduce the appearance of cross-grain scratches.

The Lagler Trio is perfect for sanding parquet floors.

A three-disc sander like the Lagler Trio is perfect for reducing cross-grain scratching while installing parquet floors. Click to watch our video on the Trio.

If you’re just looking at one installation of parquet for now and don’t expect to do too many more in the future, consider renting an orbital sander for the job. Make sure you’re getting the best deal possible by reading our blog post on buying vs. renting floor sanders.

Here’s the process for sanding parquet the right way:

  1. Make your first pass with the big machine using a 40-grit belt, moving diagonally across the grain at a 45 degree angle.
  2. Make your second pass with a 60-grit going in the opposite diagonal direction, again at a 45 degree angle.
  3. Make your third pass with an 80-grit belt along the longest part of the room, cutting across the grain directly.
  4. For an exceptionally flat floor, particularly on a mis-direction installation like parquet, the use of the planetary sander like the Lagler Trio after the belt machine is ideal.
  5. Start edging the perimeter of the room with a 40-grit, following the same grit sequence as you did with the big machine but moving with the direction of the grain. This will remove any scratches from the sander.
  6. If necessary, apply filler to make the floor’s appearance more uniform. Allow the filler to fully dry.
  7. Buff the floor using the same pattern as you would with strip flooring. Begin with a 120-grit disc backed by a hardplate. For your next pass, use a 120-grit screen backed with a white pad and a hardplate.
  8. Apply stain, if applicable. If the parquet floor consists of different species, staining the floor is not recommended because different species accept stain in varying degrees. If the parquet tiles consist of only one species that stains well, like white oak, staining is acceptable.
  9. Finish the floor. Refer to the manufacturer instructions regarding application.

Parquet looks daunting from an installer’s perspective because of all the misdirection and patterning, but it’s really not too challenging. If you follow these tips, you’ll create a floor that you can be proud of!

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