Parquet flooring is believed to originate from Versailles in 16th Century France, which makes sense as to this day Versailles panels are re-created using a number of different woods cut into shapes to form stunning patterns. It’s thought that early parquet floors, made from solid timber, started to replace marble as a high end option for the wealthy at that time. This was a very expensive choice and to some extent continues to be today, though this depends largely on the choice of material and design. Wood from different species of tree can be used to achieve different effects from their contrasting colours, such as oak, cherry, maple and mahogany among many others. Parquet floors started to fall out of fashion in the 1930 with the introduction of carpets and lino, but have recently seen a renewed surge of interest due to their versatility and stunning appearance once finished.

Parquet flooring refers to patterns created by affixing hardwood blocks (cut into shapes with straight edges; such as diamonds, triangles, rectangles and squares) to concrete or other sub floors. If a mosaic is created from curved shapes or natural forms, the craft is referred to as marquetry. The type and styles of parquet flooring available are virtually limitless, from the pattern itself to the size of blocks, solid, engineered, grade of wood, textured, scraped, wood species and the type of finish.

Traditionally, the most common pattern was the three finger block (three slats of wood making up one square block, tiled in an alternating pattern), but these days the most commonly recognised design is herringbone parquet; a staggered zigzag pattern formed from rectangular blocks with either a one or two block border, often of a contrasting colour for a striking finish.

Parquet floors were traditionally bonded to the floor with hot bitumen (a tar like substance) but this often fails over time and leaves the floor loose. Instead, we use a cold adhesive which is far more effective and results in an extremely stable surface. We’ve seen several examples of people instead trying to lay parquet directly over floorboards, nailing down the corners of the solid blocks, which leaves the floor prone to moving, creaking and having gaps appear. It’s one of many reasons we’d advise to get the professionals in for this type of floor.

Designs of parquet wood flooring are often found in Edwardian houses, however we have seen much earlier examples crop up from time to time. We’re often being called to houses to fit a new floor, only to pull up the carpet and find an original parquet nestled below. These will generally need repairs, but with a good sand and a bit of love, they can often be returned to their former glory.

Installation of solid hardwood parquet flooring is a job best left to professionals and we really wouldn’t recommend it as a DIY project, but if you’re working on a budget it’s possible to buy engineered panels with parquet laid on top of the ply core. In this case, it should be straightforward to install much like any other engineered wood flooring, as long as all the usual precautions and advice are followed, though the quality of the finish will be sacrificed for the ease of installment. In any case, a parquet floor, once laid, is a truly beautiful addition to any home and should inspire both awe and envy in your peers.

For any more help and advice, or if you require a parquet floor for your home, please feel free to call us on 01962 733016, email info@alresfordinteriors.co.uk or pop into our workshop and we can get your flooring project started today!