Parquet Hardwood Floors Installing a wood Floor how to flooring how to hardwood floor

Parquet Hardwood Floors Installing a wood Floor how to flooring how to hardwood floor

Parquet Hardwood Floors

Parquet Hardwood Floors

If we wish to add beauty and value to our homes, replacing old carpeting or vinyl floors with hardwood is a sure way to do just that: although not the cheapest upgrade, hardwood can actually be cheaper to maintain over the long term, as properly installed hardwood floors can last for generations, while carpeting or vinyl floors need frequent replacement.

Most hardwood floors are laid in standard boards, various sizes end-to-end. Hardwood strips are narrower, generally from 1½ to 3 inches wide; planks are generally wider than 3 inches. However, if you want a different effect for your hardwood floor, another option is parquet. A parquet floor is made from many pieces of wood fitted together into a mosaic pattern; usually, it is made from different kinds of wood with different grains, to create diverse and eye-catching patterns.

Parquet floors have historically been used in elegant settings such as the Palace of Versailles outside Paris; the inlay technique has also been used in floors and furniture in the Middle East and India. Originally, it was intended as a decorative alternative to the lavish stone floors that were found in wealthy homes; these stone floors, whether marble, limestone, or slate, tended to trap moisture and rot the joists and subfloors underneath, whereas hardwood parquet is breathable, allowing moisture to escape.

Just about any kind of hardwood can be used in a parquet floor, whether standard flooring woods such as oak, maple, cherry, or walnut, or more expensive tropical woods such as mahogany. The wood pieces are usually solid hardwood cut in tongue-and-groove fashion, and thus your parquet floor can be sanded and refinished several times as necessary. Sometimes, parquet is sold as veneer — a thin layer of real hardwood on top, mounted on an underlayer of particleboard. Depending on the thickness of the top layer, veneer floors can sometimes be refinished, but only a limited number of times. Even cheaper is laminate, a wholly synthetic material that simulates real wood in a parquet or other pattern.

Installing a parquet floor can be labor intensive, so carefully consider whether you’re up for the task or wish to hire a contractor to do the job. Also, especially for larger rooms, some thought has to go into the pattern you wish to create. Building supply stores will offer several standard patterns and sell herringbone and other kinds of pieces to match these patterns, but you may wish to experiment with a custom pattern. In general, darker colors are more appropriate for formal settings such as living and dining rooms, but there should always be some mixture of darker and lighter pieces.

Before installing the parquet, make sure that your subfloor is level. Also, the subfloor should not be glued down; if necessary, lay new sheets of ¼-inch plywood and secure it with screws, not nails.

With your subfloor in place, determine the exact center of your room with chalk lines, ensuring that the chalk lines are exactly perpendicular to your walls. Then nail 1x2s along the chalk lines. When you are ready to begin laying the parquet tiles, begin in the very center of the room; first apply a layer of adhesive glue for your initial tiles, which your floor dealer will supply you with, with a trowel, and begin laying the tiles in place, butting them firmly against the 1×2. The first tile must be perfectly square to your walls; if it’s not, your entire floor may appear askew. Once you have laid down sufficient tiles in the pattern that you have selected, you can remove the 1x2s. Once you work your way outward to the walls, you may need to cut pieces to fit.

Maintaining your parquet floor is not difficult; you can brush and lightly vacuum your floor, but heavy upright vacuums can damage your floor, especially vacuums with spinning brushes. These brushes often contain embedded particles of grit, which can scratch your floor. You can also use a clean damp mop on your parquet floor, but do not use abrasive detergents such as chlorine-based detergents or vinegar solutions. Any liquid spills should be mopped away promptly; dark spots can often be removed with a spirit-based solvent. Occasionally, you can use a floor polish to bring back some of the shine, but make sure the polish is designed specifically for parquet floors. Apply a water-based acrylic wax to the floor that does not require any buffing, and let this dry.

Also, use area rugs and mats with non-slip pads in high-traffic areas, or areas that are prone to splashing water. Vacuum or shake out these rugs frequently.

Occasionally, parquet tiles may come loose; these can be reglued as necessary. If you are repairing a preexisting parquet floor, it may have been glued in place with bitumen (black tar), an adhesive that is no longer permitted. Since modern parquet adhesives will not stick to bitumen, you will need to completely remove the layer of bitumen first, both from the tile if you can reuse it and from the subfloor. You may wish to consult with a professional.

With proper care and maintenance, your parquet floor will add warmth and elegance to your home, and will last for generations

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